One of the really important things about resilience thinking is that it links together so many domains that we typically only looked at singly. Our thinking over the last 200 years has become very siloed, in part due to university structures, university careers, but also due to reasons beyond that. I think one of the really interesting things is that resilience crosses a lot of those boundaries between disciplines, because the general concept has applications in business and in the environment, but also in social communities. A really interesting part of resilience thinking is that you bring communities closer together so they have more options and can be more creative in responding to stress.
To portray the richness of simplicity as a theme for healthy living, here are eight different flowerings that I see growing consciously in the “garden of simplicity.” Although there is overlap among them, each expression of simplicity seems sufficiently distinct to warrant a separate category. These are presented in no particular order, as all are important.
If you are able to move quickly as conditions change, this flexibility has its advantages. Losing your job is probably the biggest risk right now. Think about how you might deal with the situation. Also, we don’t know how things will change in the future. One area may be affected by a lack of water; another by an electrical system that no longer works, and can’t be repaired in any reasonable time frame, perhaps after a storm. If you are not too tied to where you are, you can make better decisions regarding changes.
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While much has been written in the field of psychology about resilience, the disaster environment provides an active and ongoing opportunity to reframe, reorganize and construct new meaning in a compressed timeline. In Japan, the disruption they face challenges, as a society, their capacities to respond to widespread loss of human life, environmental devastation and infrastructure. The sheer magnitude of the natural and man-made catastrophe boggles the mind for those of us who are, for the present, frozen bystanders. While we may share some of the intense anxiety and fear, we cannot grasp the full impact, both physiologically and psychologically to this country.
In older, more traditional civilizations preceding our own, one finds a remarkable capacity for embracing paradox. In fact, paradox inhabited the psyches of indigenous cultures as if in their DNA, as exemplified in their art, literature, stories, and other cultural artifacts. It was not until the dawn of modernity, greatly facilitated by Rene Descartes’ dualistic perspective which became increasingly predominate in Western intellectual tradition, that either/or thinking triumphed.