Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Salutogenesis - one more thought

Here is a brief addition to my experience with the concept of Salutogenesis. It accompanied me like a friend in the back of my mind over recent weeks. What I found is that this friend makes great company in most situations: Salutogenesis seems to be a concept that shouldn't only be applied to health and magic, but amply in life in general! 

Just as we are never only healthy or sick but always both at the same time to different degrees, in the same way our actions, thoughts or ideas are equally wrong and right at the same time to different degrees... Once I brought this simple principle down to the actual decisions I was required to take each day, I discovered an amazing impact.

Let me share a few examples:
  • Every stupid idea and action can be considered 'right' in so far as they are an authentic expression of emotions at that point in time. Brad Blanton explains this in his wonderful book that I continue to praise - suppressing emotions that are unjust or unfair doesn't make them go away. It just increases their power over us.
  • We all know the saying 'a hammer can be a tool or a weapon'. I guess in a similar way most actions and ideas are just 'hammers'. It's our reactions to them as well as our intentions when we express them that make them weapons or tools.
  • Antibiotics are life savers. At the same time they disrupt and weaken our immune system in no insignificant way. It's our choice to use them or not - to leverage their positive effect against bacteria and accept that they will kill the healthy ones as well.
I observed myself at work these days. What I found is that the principle of Salutogenesis applied to every single of my action - they are all right and wrong at the same time: Do I give this employee praise for what they did - or will it create envy of others? Do I send this email to my boss - or do I wait for the topic to come up organically? Do I bring an agenda for this meeting or do I allow open space and the important points to come forward in their own time?  

And then something strange happened: Since I stopped trying to do 'the right thing' I gained back a lot time to think about what I actually wanted to achieve? Once I stopped the daily quest for silver bullets of decision making, I regained so much time to engage with people around me... 

Martin Buber once said in his introduction to the wisdom of the Chassids: 'Don't look at yourself, look at the world.' Maybe this is what he meant? If we stop measuring, evaluating, assessing and judging the actions and ideas of ourselves or others - our whole field of vision can change.

The only thing it takes to get there, is trust. And this is where magic can help.



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