As we reach the end of a calendar year for many people in the world, here a few thoughts:

Focus on the positives. Being aware of bias is just the beginning. What’s important is that we use that awareness to change behaviour, Knowing that humans apparently have an inbuilt bias towards the negative, it’s up to each of us to make a conscious effort to balance that bias with a focus on the positive. A news service that does just that is Future Crunch, whose mission is “to foster intelligent, optimistic thinking about the future, and to empower people to contribute to a 21st century that works for everyone.”

Working together. The Dalai Lama reminds us that “It is a matter of great urgency that we find ways to cooperate with one another in a spirit of mutual acceptance and respect.” In order to do this, we need a solutions focus. Look at what’s working and build on it – what are we doing that is already taking us in the direction we want to go? There are many solutions to global problems that already exist – we need to find, amplify, and build on them.

Sustainability and growth. The natural world shows us that all things change, and an excellent analogy is with breathing. Our lungs expand as we breathe in, and contract as we breathe out. Continuous growth is driven by a narrow view of having power over circumstances, our environment, and each other, rather than power with. So it is in life – as humans we experience the “ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows”; we experience joy and sorrow, hot and cold, darkness and light, sweet and sour. The richness of life is in the mixture of experiences we have, and we become more flexible, and more skillful, in our responses, when we bring a sense of equanimity and balance to all things. Our ability to respond with equanimity is like creativity – it ebbs and flows. We need fallow times – we can’t be at peak creativity all the time. By definition, the growth model that underlies much current thinking in business and economics – and that puts financial gain as the central focus of attention — is unsustainable and therefore needs to change. Such change will only come about through new perspectives.

The benefit of diversity is in the mixture. There is no automatic, intrinsic value in increasing the numbers of a specific group of people simply for the sake of increasing the numbers. The value is in getting more and different ideas and perspectives. Is diversity of thought more important than diversity of demographics or identity? The answer, of course, is that they go together. Our background, upbringing, education, cultural, gender, and other identities, all work together to give each of us a unique perspective. What’s important is that we find and use the benefits of the mixtures we create in order to transform the world for the better. So, diversity is not important for its own sake – it’s important because it will enable us to survive and thrive as a human species. I was reminded recently that all species become extinct. We humans are no exception. The question is – for humanity, as for each of us individually – how shall we live while we are here?

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