Cause and Effect: A Response to the HuffPo Blog

What’s the motivating force?  Physics, chemistry–this is why we had to learn the stuff in high school; now, in real life, we make analogies about the motivating force of our lives from the principles we learned in physics (and we accuse our chronically-late husbands of being a limiting reagent in our effort to get out the door 🙂 ).

Yesterday afternoon, a fellow Dukie, Miho Kubagawa, wrote on Huffington Post about her approach to resolutions in 2013.  She and a group of friends had undertaken a sort of Happiness Project–making monthly resolutions instead of a year-long haul.  Miho narrated how her group’s google doc and update emails inspired and spurred each other on, “[w]e are more vulnerable and courageous, and we are taking more risks with each other’s support. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the resolutions are; what is more telling is our reflection on how our previous month’s commitment went and why.”  She goes on to share a resolution that she had trouble completing–unplugging from electronics for 4 consecutive Saturdays; an experience she saw as a “wake-up call.”

She’s got the motivating factor wrong.  What is most telling isn’t the reflection on a previous month’s commitment, nor is it the daring and creative things that people choose to pursue–did you see how she started each of her tips?

“We…”–Miho, and her friends.

Miho reveals that the google doc group don’t even all know each other, but committing to each other by joining the listserv and encouraging each other in their individual efforts has had both corporate and individual results–drawing them close to each other and empowering each of them in their daily lives.

The motivating factor of Miho’s resolution-success is relationships with other people; it’s not the 30-day timing.

Our problem is that deep, sustained relationships with other people, especially in large cities (Miho lives in NYC), and especially amongst young, transient demographics, is difficult if not impossible.  Significant relationships produce conversations, perhaps especially around this time of year, that often lead to a resolution, goal, or intention for the coming months.  Those same relationships (the ones which are made up of people with whom you live, or work, or see on the street every day) are the ones who are best equipped to assess your progress, and to encourage you on your journey.  But the point isn’t the resolutions.  The point is the relationships.

People, and the relationships we have with them, aren’t simply an ingredient in the compound of better life (a difficult concept in this market-driven age); relationships with people are the whole solution.

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