glow notes

Friday, August 05, 2005

Tipping point

I get an email newsletter called The Daily OM. I often tuck the newsletter away in a special email folder because the ideas are so interesting from a personal growth and coaching perspective. Today's article is called Breaking the Wave and describes how large-scale societal change can happen in a viral manner - a few people start to do yoga, a few more - and suddenly, everybody you know is doing yoga. These shifts can be small or breathtaking - from the popularity of Pilates to the fall of the Berlin wall.

I love this concept for at least two reasons. One, it speaks to how societal change can happen, and can be encouraged, without government intervention. I deeply believe in individual liberty even when I violently disagree with the individual in question. (And yes, I know that the government was involved in the fall of the wall, but it happened as a result of a change in consciousness).

I also love this concept because it describes the way transformation happens in an individual. We do these things to promote change. Perhaps they are physical, such as exercise of various sorts and eating differently. Perhaps they are emotional, such as seeing a therapist or reaching out to friends. Perhaps they are spiritual, such as meditation or seeking a group of people to worship with. Or some combination.

And we do these things, gradually increasing the duration, the amount, the intensity. Gradually making working on more and deeper habits and habitual ways of thinking.

And we may see benefits, but they seem small in proportion to the amount of work. And sometimes we see none at all. Even when we see large benefits, it doesn't feel like a transformation. Where's my transformation, you might ask? I'm doing all the work.

Then, suddenly one day you notice that you didn't reach for that jelly donut at the office party, that you hardly noticed they were there. Or you don't get frustrated with your husband for leaving his dirty tighty whities on the floor, you just smile to yourself as you pick them up - getting a nice hamstring stretch in the process. Or you realize you don't have to talk yourself into going to the gym any longer, it's just part of your life, like brushing your teeth. Or you wonder when the last time you ate a whole pint of Ben and Jerry's was, and you used to do it once a week (ahem, or sometimes twice). Or that mean-as-hell co-worker doesn't invoke an adrenaline reaction in you any longer, but instead compassion for her obvious pain.

So, the metaphor is this: each little act, each movement toward change, is a water droplet, and when enough droplets accrue, a wave forms. And when this wave gets big enough, you're just in the flow.

And all you have to do is ride it.

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