Creating the Life We Want, with a Tip from Skiing

Ski i Trysil

Ski i Trysil” by Ola Matsson for Trysil is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I think it’s probably true that we, as individuals and groups, can create the life we want, to a large extent. But I also think it’s a bit like skiing. If you do the right things at the right moments, the ski and the mountain do a lot of the rest of the work. In life, the skis are things like the systems, tools, products and services that we create and we use. When I say “systems,” it includes not just things like infrastructure but things like formal and informal social networks, conceptual frameworks, and processes we use to do things large and small. This means such systems might include the proximity thinking framework, the sustainable proximities approach, the shared situation guide and the shared situations website. I’ve worked very hard to make these ProxThink-related systems be like a good pair of skis. When used with reality (the mountain), they can do a lot of the work for us, and can help make life better and more enjoyable.

As touched on, an important point about the above is related to the word “we,” which can mean ourselves individually, but also larger groups of people, and even all of humanity. So we need to think carefully about the systems, tools, products and services that we create and we use. But I think we especially need to think carefully about the systems, as systems can condition the range of options we have, and our quality of life in general. I’ve thought very carefully in creating the ProxThink-related systems mentioned above, and even about the transitions to using them more often.



People need ProxSets to function and make sense of their worlds

People need ProxSets to function and make sense of their worlds. That doesn’t mean their ProxSets can’t change. By the way, with proximity thinking, “their worlds” in the first sentence could have also been stated “their proximities.”

A possible criticism and an answer

A possible criticism of the Underlying Concept (being is about relating) of proximity thinking might be this: “Sure, life is about relationships. But not just any old relationships!”

My answer is I agree, and the ProxPatterns help suggest relationships more likely to work and enhance life. That doesn’t mean the ProxPatterns are free of contradictions. In fact, they allow and work with contradictions.

Let’s make work less dominant

In this culture, it seems many things take a backseat, or secondary position, to work, career, and markets.

Some of these things include friends, family, community, health, fun, variety, the arts, balance, the environment, living situations, social groups, and even politeness.

The proximity thinking framework may provide some approaches which could change this. The framework acknowledges and allows for the dynamic relationship of elements, relationships and proximity. Especially the greater emphasis on proximity, as well as approaches which let us relate more directly to proximities, may shift the importance of work, career and markets to a more appropriate place.

The main approach I’m referring to here is the sustainable proximities approach. Here’s an example of how to use the approach, written up as a short guide: How to Create a Sustainable Proximity.

My Holiday Gift to You

Congratulations everyone! Great job! It’s the holidays and we have a civilization to be proud of. Before I review how great things are, let me say I think we can do even better. I think so because I have a new approach to share with you, which uses what we have in different ways. It’s my holiday gift to you. But first, let’s sum up how far we’ve come.

We don’t know what to do about widespread unemployment, and the social, mental and health costs that go with it. Ditto for avoidable wars. We can’t get together on climate change. Health care is a mess. Millions die from treatable or fixable problems. Income disparities threaten the social fabric. Banks get generous, flexible bailouts and are still ungenerous and inflexible with customers. We do a poor job of finding, testing and implementing new approaches.

You get the picture. Yes there are good, even great things about life. But we know there are a lot of problems which seem more solvable than they turn out to be. And that’s a key point. I think it’s less anyone’s fault in particular. It’s more the system we live within.

During the economic meltdown last year, and the events that led up to it, we realized we were not looking at what they called “systemic risk.” We missed the big picture. In a similar way, we’re not taking a large enough view of a lot of our challenges.

Taking the big picture view, and integrating it with the practical, is sort of my specialty. For over 30 years, I’ve been preparing for, and then developing, a framework which does that. It started with a few rules of thumb about life, a focus on proximity, and the known philosophical insight that being is about relating. After that, it kind of took on a life of it’s own.

Eventually, it grew into a large framework, including a new thinking structure, creativity patterns, models and tools. I call it ProxThink, short for proximity thinking. Perhaps the crown jewel is a sustainable proximities approach. The approach integrates all the other aspects of the framework with technology, networks, and emerging social practices such as networked communication and collaboration.

I implemented the sustainable proximities approach in several other projects I’m working on, in order to work out the kinks. After this conceptual work and implementation, I recently came up with a short “how-to” guide. The guide introduces both the concepts and how to set them up for a proximity you care about.

I’m including this guide in a linked blog post. It’s called “How to Create a Sustainable Proximity.” You are free to use this approach, and I hope you will. If we create many sustainable proximities, they will start to overlap. If you find this useful or interesting, there is a link at the end for ways to get more involved. Also, please share it.

So, pick up your gift at How to Create a Sustainable Proximity.

Proxri Deal: As you find our relationship rewarding, proxri with the proximity in mind.