If You Want To Be Happy Keep It Simple – Insights from the Wilderness #38

Click here to listen to Dick read this NuggetIn a recent poll, third graders were asked “what do you think would make our world a nicer, more peaceful, more friendly, and happier place to live?”

Their third grade responses varied depending on the size of their world view. Have more vacations. Make war illegal. Have less homework. Assigned seats on the school bus. More singing.

Their answers were humorous, but the question is an important one.

If You Want To Be Happy Keep It SimpleHow would “you” as a responsible adult answer?  What do “you” think would improve the world we live in?

After some thought I decided the thing that would most improve the world we live in would be the concept of “keep it simple.”

Let me explain what I mean.

What if we thought of a problem we’d like to solve, and then simply focused “on what we could agree upon.”  In other words, “we would keep all of our energy focused on looking for common ground.”

This simple approach to problem solving would lead to a more effective use of our time together. It would foster a greater sense of cooperation and teamwork, and create a more peaceful and creative conversation.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me focusing on what we “don’t” agree upon is rarely a helpful use of our collective time and energy.

Problem solving by thinking of all the things we don’t agree on only gives our primitive ego permission to enthusiastically offer opinions on how we think it “should” be. When others don’t agree with us, we spend an enormous amount of time and argumentative energy trying to convince them that “we” are right.

We seem to be programmed to take offense when others disagree with us. Our primitive ego behaves as though others are challenging “us personally”, not our belief or opinion.

When we disagree with others, they feel the same way.

In other words, when we begin our problem solving by focusing on what we don’t agree on, the conversation quickly turns toxic, an atmosphere of conflict grows, and everyone become defensive.

We feel criticized, we become inflexible, our conversational tone quickly becomes annoyed and aggressive. The result is gridlock, conflict, and stressed or broken relationships.

Not a very happy or peaceful outcome.  Definitely not a process that leads to creative solutions.

So lets back up for a minute and attempt to “keep it simple”.

What if all our problem solving conversations were “required” to stay emotionally and cognitively focused on the things everyone could agree upon?

Instead of bitter partisan arguments over what they disagree on, our politicians would be “required” to focus on what they “do” agree upon.

Whenever they are unable to agree on a particular issue, instead of focusing on the disagreement, they would be “required” to keep looking for small solutions they “could” agree on.

Let’s look at another example.

Keep it simple” could eliminate much of the violence and conflict created by our mainline religions. Instead of worrying about all the things they “don’t” agree on, they would be “required” to focus all of their energy on the things they do agree on——compassion, peace, justice, service, caring for others, and unconditional love.

What they don’t agree upon would no longer be an issue. They would be too busy “keeping it simple” and working together to make the world a better place to live.

I don’t believe my “keep it simple” idea to improve the world is a pollyanna suggestion.

I know there are different ideas and solutions to the complex problems that face us, but pouring concrete on what we “don’t” agree on is definitely not a helpful way to search for creative solutions.

When our problem solving process creates negative energy, conflict, and lack of civility, it’s inevitable that we are going to create conflict, gridlock, and violence.

Happiness, cooperation, and finding creative solutions to the problems that face us must include the values of empathy and mutuality.

As we move together into the future, I believe we “can” learn to work together, and find creative ways to improve the world.

But we have to “keep it simple”.

Do you agree?.

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