The Necessity of Change: Thoughts on an article by Dr. Dean Ornish

Dr. Dean Ornish wrote an interesting article for The Huffington Post entitled, Something Good About the Economic Meltdown, in which he addresses the transformative powers of pain and adjusting one’s life habits.

Warren Bennis, in his book, “On Becoming A Leader,” has a line, “Everywhere you trip is where the treasure lies.” This means that when you find yourself up against some kind of life obstacle: a challenging experience, tough decision, “stressful” experience – it is wise to look for the learning opportunity in the face of the obstacle. That is, not letting the troublesome experience overcome you, but learning from it and adjusting the way in which you might interpret it. Generally speaking, this quotation is fitting for the economic crisis. For Ornish, the crisis in the USA is a painful blow to many individuals, families and businesses, but, perhaps, it is a pain that we can learn from (in align with Bennis). Dr. Ornish writes that with the coming of a painful experience, “There is an enormous clarification process that often leads to healing.”

It is hard to say what this “clarification process” entails and how it manifests itself in the individual, but a base level explanation is that it alters one’s habits – one’s ways of thinking and doing. It is the process of realizing that one’s life is not fully embedded in the imagined past or in the imaginary future, but grounded here and now in the reality of the moment. And, in light of this process: Only when it becomes necessary, do people really change (inspired by Lee Thayer).

Ornish also writes, “If anything good comes out of this financial crisis, if any meaning can be found beyond learning to live more frugally, it may be learning to value collaboration over competition, and selflessness over selfishness.” Perhaps, this economic crisis has been a wake-up call for the USA to reach out and connect more fruitfully with the global community – to admit, that “going it alone” is not the right strategy in a globalized world, that we are interconnected on different levels.

Hopefully, instead of getting sucked into vicious circles of harmful addiction, depression, media-fueled anxiety and so on, we can strive to see the “treasure” in this financial “trip” while working to make our own lives and the lives of those around us better and better.

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