“It is theory which decides what we can observe.”
~ Albert Einstein, 1926, in discussion with his pal and ours, Werner Heisenberg, king of uncertainty not to mention quantum mechanics.
Wait — not vice versa???!
Aren’t science AND rational life decisions based on objectively seeing “facts” and then using those facts to form a testable hypothesis on which to base your next move? Yes. And I am frankly IN LOVE with the scientific method.
As Einstein pointed out, our assumptions determine what we see.
Fun example of a subcategory of this phenom – watch this video showing a basketball-passing-game between white-shirted and black-shirted players. Keep count of how many times the white-shirted players pass the ball. The result may surprise you.
In her blog post last week, Kayce Hughlett guided us deeper into the idea that “It’s All Invented” (Chapter 1 in Rosamund and Ben Zander’s The Art of Possibility) by helping us to see some of our own personally constructed “theories”/ stories/frameworks and to play with alternatives that may be AS true or even truer. (Click here if you want to do that short and powerful practice.)
This week, I’m exploring the Zanders’ theory that there are two general kinds of frameworks that shape our daily human lives. (If you’re following along in your own copy of the book, you’ll find we’re in Chapter 2, “Stepping into a Universe of Possibility.”) The Zanders place our most mundane survival thinking in what they call “The World of Measurement,” and they believe our sacred thriving moments occur when we put ourselves in “A Universe of Possibility.” These two frameworks shape us in subtle and deep ways:
Ways in Which Our Lives Reflect Our Frameworks
|How our frameworks manifest:||
“The World of Measurement”
“A Universe of Possibility”
|Underlying assumption: what we see when we look around||Lack and Attack:Limited resources (time, love, money, power, inner strength) + threats from all quarters.||Good and Plenty:An abundance of everything + friendlies all over the place!|
|What life’s about||Surviving.||Thriving.|
|Our “task” (the “dramatic action” of our stories) with respect to others and our surroundings||Competitive:Overcome obstacles and prevail;Be acknowledged and included.||Generative:Giving;Integrating.|
|How we get to know others and our environment.||Compare and Despair: We develop knowledge by measuring (assessments, scales, standards, grades) against others.||Imagine and Invent: We develop knowledge through invention. (E.g., “We decide that the essence of a child is joy, and joy she is.”)|
|How we talk; the conversations we have with others.||“We chronicle personal trials and triumphs.” In this way, we evaluate our successes and measure them further.||“We speak with the awareness that language creates categories of meaning that open up new worlds to explore.” In this way, we share and nourish our unfettered imaginations.|
|Individual sense||We stand back, identifying self as separate from others.||“We forget ourselves and seem to become part of all being.”|
|How we see ourselves with respect to others||
|How we go about life||We set measurable goals and strive for “success,” hoping to arrive at a better place than where we are by overcoming obstacles.||“We set the context and let life unfold.” There is nothing to fix – and everything to create.|
|Useful strategies we’ve developed||
|How we can tell we have succeeded||Measurements of winning vs. losing and acceptance vs. rejection. [But I think we feel this in our bodies as physical sensations of being shackled – no matter whether we win or lose.]||Sense of ever-expanding possibility and emotions listed below. [I think we feel this in our bodies as physical sensations of freedom.]|
|Emotions||“Love for our own… fear, anger, and despair at losing… exhilaration of having come out on top.”||Emotions often associated with spirituality: “joy, grace, awe, wholeness, passion, and compassion.”|
So did you perchance notice that my elegant little spreadsheet, comparing and contrasting the two frameworks, lies firmly in the World of Measurement?!
We all are part of the world of measurement. We have to be. It comes with be human — with having our glorious conscious, rational brain imbedded in this material world. Our human combo of mind + body means we are unavoidably aware of “differences” between things, times, places, people.
And that’s a good thing.
Differences are required for anything to happen. For movement. For new things. And seeing/acknowledging those differences is not only necessary for safety (which is why we evolved with this ability!) but also the only way to have imagination and to invent new things.
Yes, our imaginings can spin us away into obsessing on limitations, but it also can jettison us into seeing new possibilities… AND ways to make those new things happen.
Sometimes the strategies from The World of Measurement are the very tools that allow us to begin accessing A Universe of Possibility – like how the Zanders’ book and my table summarizing the different frameworks help me.
So don’t beat yourself up for your activity in the world of measurement. But be sure you ALSO can assume your rightful place in a universe of possibility — as often as you want.
The rest of the Zanders’ book presents practices for “sailing into a vast universe of possibility” – we hope you’ll continue to join our book-club-blog-hop as we explore those ideas. But first, it helps just to notice how you are in The World of Measurement, how you are in A Universe of Possibility, and how you most easily shift between the two.
- In my table, which of the “ways” in the first column is how you most commonly manifest The World of Measurement?
- In which “way” do you most easily find yourself in A Universe of Possibility? Is this a potential practice you could use as a tool for shifting to A Universe of Possibility when you find yourself suffering in The World of Measurement – or does one of the other “ways” seem more likely to help you make the shift?
- Which aspect of A Universe of Possibility most appeals to you – gives you a little thrill just to consider? (This may or may not be the same as the answers to #2)
I am asking my three fellow coaching-book-club-blog-hoppers to write their responses to these questions in the comment section below – and I hope you’ll chime in because I find it really is true that as we share our forays into meaning, we open up multiverses for one another.
Thank you for playing – for wading into Possibility with us.
PS — To see the book club schedule, click here.