Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas
Trade your expectations for appreciation and your whole world changes in an instant. Tony Robbins
I’ve started listening to Jordan Peterson’s book, “Beyond Order” and reading “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell. Jordan Peterson says, “We think we know how to make things better but we often don’t.” Malcolm Gladwell says, “Even when things get better we often don’t know why they improved.”
One of the things that Malcolm Gladwell talks about is how “Fixing the broken window syndrome” in New York City fixed a lot of problems. When we create order out of disorder we make things better. He says when people live in chaos they internalize it and it affects them in ways they don’t even recognize.
During an experiment conducted where volunteers agreed to play the part of prisoners in a makeshift prison or be guards through random draws. The situation degraded quickly. Jordan Peterson tells us we should never believe we are above acting in the most horrific of ways. This also means we are not below acting in the best ways and our environment is more important than we may think.
Sometimes we have control over our environment and sometimes we do not. The outcome of children in a chaotic environment with a strong family is not likely to be as good as the children from a weak family in a good environment. If we live in a society that works we have a lot to be grateful for. It is not something to be taken for granted because it can devolve into something horrible and building it back up again may not be easy.
When we hear about people who have elevated schools, communities, and countries they usually bring about order out of chaos. Discipline, diligence, neatness, and cleanliness, become important. I remember going to school in the early grades and we had to put our hands on our hankie and show our fingernails were clean every morning. What a long time ago that was. Our schools are still orderly and we may lament they aren’t how they used to be but our school system for the most part works and we should be grateful. One of the things Jordan Peterson stresses is we should be grateful for what works in our lives and we should be careful we don’t make things worse with our zeal to make things better.
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy
We may ask ourselves what would make our society better. We often say we need more equal outcomes. What if there will never be equal outcomes but we can do our best to offer equal opportunities. We know we can’t offer poor kids the opportunities rich kids have. What poor kids have, that rich kids often can’t have is the opportunity to elevate themselves above where they were born. This is an accomplishment only those who can attain more than their parents have, can aspire to.
There is a point above which more will not help us lead a better life. If we are fortunate enough to live at that place where we live in peace and plenty we should be grateful for everyone that has built our society. Our society is not perfect; do we even know what a perfect society would look like? Whose idea of perfection do we go with?
What if we are always trying to balance order and chaos? If we have too much order then creativity is missing, too much chaos and we don’t have a society that works. We can’t count on services being there for us because it takes order for buses to show up at bus stops and schools to be open, clean, and safe. The supply chain that keeps our stores stocked is an amazing accomplishment.
People sometimes complain when gentrification occurs in neighborhoods. The mess gets cleaned up, windows are no longer boarded and the neighborhood becomes safe again. It is no longer a cheap place to live. We are always in a cycle of rebirth and decay. It happens in our own lives, our homes, neighborhoods, and cities.
We may look back and think a moment in time was perfection, and it might have been but change is always coming. New houses become old houses; new generations of children take their place in society. Nothing can stay the same no matter how much we may wish we could hold onto the perfect moments in our lives. We have to let go of where we are to embrace what is coming even if what is coming isn’t what we want because we think our best times are behind us.
If we can enjoy where we are in life, the blessings we have, the opportunities in front of us instead of lamenting about the ones in the past we will live a better life.
Maybe all we can do in our lives is ask ourselves do we need more order or more chaos to have a more balanced life. Are we too creative/chaotic and we aren’t taking care of the other parts of our life, or are we too ordered with no creativity? Is life about as good as it gets and we are too blind and ungrateful to see how blessed we are?
Gratitude makes sense of your past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie
To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch heaven. Johannes Gaertner
Gratitude turns what we have into enough. Aesop