Color your life, with change!
Do you make positive change, clean your neighborhood, or wait for (and hope) others to do so ? Is it nature or nurture?
The question always raised by fields like applied psychology (developmental, social, environmental …research is similar), socio-linguistics (“language creates culture” versus the typical Chomsky nativist view of the “language acquisition device” or LAD).
Our nature is influenced by our environment and so this interaction creates change, for better or worse.
Speaking of language, a recent blog post about “Shiny, Happy People…” by Fractured-Faith resolved that there is a certain ‘insincerity’ and even ‘fakeness’ of some people who appear happy and ‘perfect’ all the time. This might be true, as it is likely cultural (or ‘sub-cultural’ not just ethnicity). There is reason why the rest of the world refers to the U.S. ‘happy’ and there is a popular song by Pharell Williams …. “cause I’m Happy!”
Why are we not happy? Why should we not be happy? And do we want more misery and unhappiness which we see a lot? Is it true that misery loves company? Is this why some people don’t make even the simplest changes in the way they live? Is it a choice?
We cannot deny what we see “Beauty and the Trash,” “Transformers,” “respite and public spaces” many cities are making choices for positive change and this includes working with local artists. Making even the smallest change to our environments adds more positivity and hope to all who live or work there. A book written in 1992 about Care of the Soul by Psychologist Dr. Thomas Moore for me was pivotal about this issue. He emphasizes changing our attitude, maintaining our friendships and our surroundings, our home “no matter how big or small,” to help us in the short and long-term.
We see that even in several low-income neighborhoods with poor homeowners (family inheritance) or just plain poor, when one maintains what they have and doesn’t focus only on how much “money they don’t have“ — the financial component — places where people look out for each other and take care of their surroundings, it creates a sense of trust, fulfillment, and often change. Lately in most cities, due to high crime and globalization we see entire sections of uncared for “overly-tagged,” full of trash neighborhoods and municipalities. We know that when communities make the decision to change, they can. One great example is a once down-trodden neighborhood near Boston, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) that continues to make change for residents through today.
Creating murals that beautify, a simple act of painting over an otherwise ugly metal object add beauty, meaning, and value to a community.
Some say these acts can help to reduce crime (think “broken window syndrome”) as more local businesses open to attract visitors thus increasing local income.
Young people off the street with more jobs, happier people… domino effect. Maybe some of us would rather have some ‘fake’ happiness through these small but important changes, than all the misery (and jealousy) that we experience on a daily basis?
Over the years, having visited countless neighborhoods including villages, towns, cities, in Europe and the Americas as well as parts of the Middle East, I realize it’s a matter of community choice and more importantly individual efforts. As a matter of fact, universities like MIT even are studying this on a larger scale — a friend first told me about environmental re-engineering (in the 1990s, wow!) that included work spaces — from the ergonomic cubicles to the broad table placed strategically as a meeting area for people to gather — and being serious about studying change in public spaces .“Build it and they will come,” “no man is an island unto himself,” “Just DO it” are all well-known quotes that apply well here. This month, we did it. Working hard to plan for some research and community collaborations. And on an individual level what did I do?
♥ Made the change for ourselves, and painted the common space that was soiled from mold and mildew because ‘no one bothered’ all these months… and the outcome was worth it.
According to the world of Harry Potter, one can discover what personality type they are. For example, the hard-working Hufflepuffs (answer the questions via the Sorting Hat in “Pottermore” to discover your ‘House’).
These individuals are the supposed honest ”worker-bees” and the related color is yellow. Are they ‘as good as gold’? In Don Lowry’s “True Colors” this person would be a “gold”, going back to Ancient Greek philosophy or medicine — Plato’s sensible type or Hippocrates’ black bile humor. All individuals are of course one part of the balance of life, as there are various personality types, but we need more community builders!
Speaking of bees, a recent scientific debate declared that bees are the most important ‘beings’ on our planet as they are in danger of becoming extinct ….they both contribute to our healthy ecosystems through pollination as well as by the healing power of their honey (see scienceandinfoblogpost).
We need to know and communicate about these issues to increase our community health literacy. We need to ‘spread the word’ that simple acts like adding more potted flowers attracts more bees (they have done in Denmark), and adds beauty and value to any neighborhood. And who knows, once one person starts, then another, and another….
Individual and community efforts, in often down-trodden and neglected communities make our daily life more beautiful and create hope.