I recently talked about the 'good-good quadrant' and why I believe this is not only a 'good' but really the only place to be!! If you've missed this article, you can find it here.
Now, as a reader you might be thinking "That's all very well Natalie - but what does this actually look like in real and practical terms?? And how do I make that happen??"
I am so glad you asked!!!
Let me answer this for you through a few concrete and top of mind examples from some varied areas of life. Applying the principles of permaculture zones, let's work from the inside out.
Zone 0 - Self and emotional
This is where a lot of the 'personal development' world is focused. I believe that one of the biggest breakthroughs we can have in our lives is to learn how to regulate and manage our emotions and take 100% radical responsibility for our lives (I'll say some more about that very soon). EVERYTHING lies on the other side of this; it's the stuff that makes creating the life of your dreams possible.
Without learning to manage and shift our state or energy into one that is helpful in any given moment - and without accepting and truly embodying that - at the end of the day - we are the ones responsible for how our lives play out, we face a lifetime of reactivity, being the victim of our circumstances and leaving our dreams and desires up to chance - or: other people. We may find some success if the stars happen to align for us - but we will never be able to trust that this is any more than a temporary fluke, leaving us stressed and full of inner unrest even at the best of times.
Having control of our inner world and taking radical responsibility, on the other hand, allows us to pick up the reigns of our life and have the peace of mind of knowing that we will ALWAYS find a way - or: make a way! - to deal with whatever life happens to throw at us. We can't always control what happens to us - but we can control how we respond and what we make of it.
So - emotional regulation, managing our state and taking radical responsibility is - without a doubt - good for us.
But is it good for the world? - Let's consider this for a moment.
If I know how to put myself into a resourceful state ANY TIME and I know that for things to change I must change... I will be less likely to:
blame and judge others for their actions, behaviors or opinions
get caught up in the 'Matrix' and societal expectations
be less reliant on a societal system or anyone, in fact, supporting me
live in a state of pain or struggle which I can only escape through addictions to shopping, drugs, sugar, Netflix or social media (pick your poison)
Instead, I will be much more likely to
meet others with curiosity and compassion - and thus be able to influence them for the better (we can't influence anyone while we're judging them!!)
create the freedom I need in my life to make decisions based on what's right vs. what's expected of me or what I feel is 'required'
be able to support others by being of service and adding value to their lives (I'm wearing my own oxygen mask, allowing me to help others)
know what is 'enough', reduce overconsumption of anything and thus significantly reduce my footprint on this planet - while improving my health and wellbeing.
Sounds like a case of the 'good-good' quadrant!
However, not ALL of the insights from the personal development realm are necessarily 'good'. So what about an example to the contrary though? Let's try 'goalsetting for success'.
Well, unless I have already mastered emotional regulation and self-responsibility, I may define success a doing or achieving things that increase my 'status'.
Status, as defined by the Oxford dictionary, means 'RELATIVE social or professional standing'. Relative to who? Relative to other people or society as a whole.
So if I am defining 'being successful' as having or doing things that increasing my status, I will strive to achieve more of what 'other people' and 'society as a whole' currently think is worth striving for and will - by definition - try to position myself as 'better' or 'above' other people, for example through:
Money or 'making 6 figures' mostly to buy more
Physical attractiveness (at all costs)
Classic career success for the sake of recognition and power (read: being well adjusted to a arguably sick society)
Instagram followers and "likes"
These are the foundations of excessive consumerism, extractive industries, pollution, carbon emissions and species decline.
Good for the world? - Not so much.
(Now - don't get me wrong: If you're on this page, you are likely to define 'success' very differently... which is kind of my point).
Want another Zone 0 example?
We probably won't have to argue whether a healthy lifestyle is good for us, right? It is. However, are there different ways you could go about pursuing a healthy lifestyle?
We can live a healthy lifestyle by consuming super fruits from the Amazonian rainforest, out-of-season vegetables from half way around the world (because blueberries add anti-oxidants in our morning smoothie - even though it's winter!), and multi-vitamins produced by God-knows-who using God-knows-what. We can be healthier through pharmaceuticals or now even medical technologies like bio-hacking and stem cells. We can improve our mental state by attending yoga retreats in Bali and Mindfulness courses in Tibet every year. We can build our fitness by going to the gym or always riding the latest bicycle (all of which, by the way, require vast amounts of energy, i.e. carbon emissions).
Good for us? - Probably. Good for the world? - Maybe not so much.
OR - we can pursue a healthy lifestyle by consuming organic vegetable from our own backyard or the closest sustainable farmer, add anti-oxidants by consuming some of our humble garden weeds (Pl.!), exercise low-tech outside in nature - or - hear, hear! - exercise by actually doing PHYSICAL LABOUR, like helping our elderly neighbor clear her yard, get her groceries or chop her firewood.
(It is always striking me as odd how we 'invent' these artificial ways to exert ourselves when there is so much REAL work to do in the world!!)
Good for the world? - More so, I believe.
But let's look at a third example - moving from Zone 0 to Zone 1:
Can 'relationships' fall into the 'good-bad' or 'good-good' quadrant? - I think so.
A lot of relationships are transactional - I do for you what you do for me. I give something and I expect in return. I 'deserve' having... being... getting...
And if we have two people pursuing this type of relationship, it may actually work quite well for them if they can find a good balance. We can have 'expectations' of our partners, we can insist on 'deserving' to be treated well - and they do the same and it kind of works for many people. And when it doesn't, when we are putting in more than we are getting out - we have every right to move on.
A whole industry is focused on helping you find "the one" who will meet all your expectations, give you what you 'deserve' - and eliminate the ones who don't.
Good for us? Well - potentially. We may find someone who plays our game well enough to inspire us to play theirs as well. We may get attention, adoration, significance, STATUS, financial security and the likes.
But how long will they last? What are the chances of a transactional relationship lasting in the long term? - With our expectations constantly increasing while our partners willingness to meet them is constantly declining.
Having 'successful' relationships based on what we 'want' or what we 'GET' is more likely to lead to
economic set backs
children either losing a parent or having to move between households
children getting caught up in adult resentment and conflict
Good for the world? - Not so much.
But what's the alternative? - We could pursue relationships based on GIVING.
You see - coming back to my point above - when we know how to meet our own emotional needs and take responsibility for our lives, we can enter into relationships based on what we can GIVE to the other person - without needing anything in return. How likely are you to leave a relationship where your partner is focused on meeting your every need without ever expecting anything in return? And how willing would you be to give back to this person - without expecting anything?
Relationships based on giving are more likely to last, be fulfilled and happy and allow people to constructively support each other long term in raising their children to be strong and empowered adults and building lives together that can make a difference (see below).
And - since how we do one thing we do everything, we are also more likely to want to give and contribute to others outside of our intimate relationships.
Good for the world? - I believe so.
So let's move on to Zone 2 and look at a fourth example:
You can probably figure this one out yourself. Can you strive for success in business that serves only to increase your profits and satisfy your shareholders? And how likely is that going to be happening at the cost of other people or the planet as you externalize your costs?
Not good for the world.
Conversely though - can you build a successful and PROFITABLE business using practices that take into account equality, social justice and sustainability?
I think we now have enough examples of this.
And - could you then take a step further and build a successful business that is DESIGNED to add value to the world, to improve the lives of people and planet WHILE making profit which you can then utilize to support EVEN MORE good in the world - maybe by donating 10% of your it to a foundation and other charitable cause?
You get my point. Good for the world? - Yes.
But - after all of that: Over to you! What are YOUR real world 'good-bad' or 'good-good' examples? What have you observed? - I'd love to hear.
Much love, Natalie
PS: For animated conversations about every day 'good-good' topics, best thing is to join us at the "Next level sessions". We'll pick a new topic each fortnight - but more importantly, you'll be able to share, discuss, ask questions and generally hang out with some pretty amazing huMan3!
PPS: And if you're up for REALLY making your life in the 'good-good' quadrant happen, I have a real treat for you: Soon I will be launching the first cohort of "The Village" - a 12-months personal development program that will help you shift ALL areas of your life into the good-good quadrant, alongside a close knit community of fellow humans providing you with support, accountability and a sounding board. Not only that, but you will start DOING actual good for the world on day 1!! Talk about FEELING good as a result! If you're interested, send me a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll provide you with more info on "The Village - Where good goes viral"