Yes, it really does start with you
From economic growth to growth in wellbeing
Over the last century, humanity has revolutionized both science and technology at a rate never before seen in history. We’ve conquered the world, and engineered technologies and physical developments as much as we felt was ‘humanly’ possible. Up until now, this progress has been largely focused on growth and consumption and, as a result, we are now more materially comfortable than any generation before us. Yet, despite most of the material needs in the Global North having been met, life does not feel any easier.
We are increasingly lacking a sense of inner wellbeing. We find ourselves in the midst of depression and addiction epidemics, with mental health problems being the top contributor to disabilities globally. Obesity kills three times as many people per year as do famine and malnutrition, and presently we are on track for half of humankind to be overweight by 2030. It appears our economic deficit has been replaced by a mental one.
Indeed, we are not equipped to live in a world of chaos, complexity, and unprecedented extremes, such as is presented daily through mainstream media with news of climate change, pandemics, unemployment, natural disasters, war, and varying types of community-level conflicts, often fueled by competition over perceived resource scarcity.
And yet, this is all considered normal. We embrace competition and struggle as natural, and instead of thriving, we increasingly feel that we’re – still – only just surviving.
The New Normal
GNP has long been used as the primary measurement of progress without questioning whether increased production actually benefits society as a whole. Rather, production became the goal in itself, instead of a means to serve humanity.
In believing only in the physical world around us, we’ve surrendered to a materialistic philosophy that keeps us searching for happiness in our external lives. We are driven to obsessively improve our outer conditions, typically through consumerism and the accumulation of more possessions and titles. As a direct result of this worldview, humankind has come to unconsciously accept that our existence on this planet is valued according to our monetary worth.
We try to outrun our discomfort by plunging compulsively into work, in an attempt to become what society regards as successful, so we can receive praise and approval. When this doesn’t fulfill us, we seek release from the unease and emptiness we feel inside, reaching out for anything that makes us feel better; diving into the vast fields of pleasures which include addiction to food, drugs, pornography, shopping, social media, and more.
In our certainty that we are all separate, we have cultivated a deep ethic of individualism which so values independence that it places the interests of the individual before the community. This ethic holds anyone who has accumulated personal wealth and power in highest esteem, leading us to define ourselves by our net worth instead of wellbeing.
But conventional success doesn’t make the world a better place, and it doesn’t bring us true joy. We’re now more stressed and less happy than any previous generation. Whilst we tell ourselves that we are making free, conscious decisions, we are in reality stuck in the status quo – trading independent thinking for collective agreement, too scared to disagree for fear of rejection.
New times require new guides
Whilst disruptive change affects every industry and every corner of the planet, we can however still glimpse a new era of human potential, unlike any we’ve seen before. Phenomena, such as distributed cognition, neuro-hacking, a wellbeing economy creating value for all, and systemic change on a global scale, point to a new world ready to emerge from the ashes of the old.
We have the knowledge and the resources to overcome addictions, eliminate hunger and end poverty.
The problem is not a lack of solutions or technological capabilities, rather it is that we as human beings have not evolved accordingly.
What we lack is a mindset revolution and a critical mass of transformational leaders who have the courage, emotional maturity, and global vision to conceptualize second-order changes for the good of all, and write a new history for humanity.
A new transformative story
The true crisis in today’s world is not social, epidemic, political or economic, but a crisis of consciousness; an inability to free ourselves from outdated mindsets and directly experience our true nature. It is our very thinking – driven by notions of fear, competition, scarcity, fragmentation and individuality – which is at the heart of the challenges currently facing humanity.
What’s more, these symptoms, and the frame of mind which drives them, keep us feeling powerless, believing that we have a limited ability to affect peace in ourselves, our lives, our families’ lives, and the wider world.
Clearly, we’re following a blueprint that doesn’t deliver what we’re longing for. The strategies we currently employ in our attempts to alleviate the world’s crises address symptoms with solutions born from the same paradigm that created them, rather than addressing the underlying root-cause.
It’s time to elevate global consciousness; to re-evaluate both our capacity to act upon issues of global significance, as well as our understanding of ourselves and others within the broader perspective of the modern world. It’s essential to develop a new transformative story for humanity in the 21st century; a new worldview that describes the reality in which we wish to live as human beings – a new kind of humanism.
Historically, we have relied on economic growth to solve our social and political problems. But economic growth has no answers to ecological collapse, conflict or depression. The next few decades will therefore be characterized, not by technological advancement, but by intense soul-searching and the formulation of an altogether new socio-political model. They will be about defining how we move from an economic era into an era of consciousness.
What we need most is to change ourselves and the way we think. It requires a paradigm shift as profound as when we first re-imagined the universe based on the discovery that the world was round, not flat.
The goal is more profound than simply changing beliefs or behaviors. It involves a fundamental transformation of our very way of being from a focus on the individual to an understanding of deeper interconnectedness, and a realization that we are inherently part of something bigger than ourselves.
When we accept that we are all connected and we feel compassion for ourselves and others, we can begin to develop a greater sense of collective responsibility, and with it nurture humanity on a global scale.
It requires an acceptance that It is not only that we can bring about world change by first changing ourselves. This is, in fact, the only way to proceed.
Only then, can there be a global revolution of mindset. One from which we can provide the answers for how humanity can flourish in an increasingly complex world.
Inner space: the new frontier
In the past, power came from manipulating the world around us and reshaping the planet. In the future, we will gain power from engineering our inner world as much as we have engineered our outer world, and reshaping ourselves.
The new frontier is not outer space, but inner space. The main revolution we are now facing is to re-invent both ourselves and our minds. To succeed at such a daunting task, we’ll need to dive deep inside, learning to understand our own operating system better and learning how to upgrade it. We’ll need to know who we really are and what we really want from life. Doing so will require a truly dimensional shift in how we perceive and experience our existence.
Everything we do in life is in pursuit of one single thing: joy. We wish to attain a state of inner peace and happiness. The only thing which stands between us and achieving this is that we believe our happiness depends entirely on external circumstances. Yet, all emotions – pleasant or painful – happen within us. Our emotional state is an internal process which we can learn to master – even to create. The only way out is to go within – in that knowledge lies the real power and answer to our challenges in life.
When we accept that we each have this level of personal power at our disposal, the tyranny of the majority will fall away: allowing us to take charge of our inner wellbeing, rather than being victims of our external circumstances. We will be free to thrive.
Personal transformation can and does have global effects, and the revolution that will change the world for the better is, ultimately, a personal one. The question is: are we brave enough to embrace this new way of thinking? Do we dare step into uncertainty, and disrupt the status quo? And who has courage enough to lead the way?