The chain of discovery begins with a personal experience of the author, and as such will be told in the first and second person.
Sustainability. In 2004, I had become acquainted with sustainability through media articles. It had become a common topic of discussion in local, national, and international media. Neighborhood recycling programs had been in effective in many places around the country from alarmist concerns for diminishing natural resources. My question, even at that early date was, “What about social sustainability?”
Social Sustainability. My own keyboard philosophizing had led me years ago to the proposition that there are only two categories for all the things that exist: Those things of people and those things that are not of people. My concerns were for the wasted potential of millions of people who would never be able to explore the full dimensions of their innate potential.
First Workshop. As I expanded my own knowledge about the unexplored potential of individual people and whole societies, I began to ponder the idea of teaching a five day workshop about social sustainability; and to explore the meta-mind potential that could be accessed via relaxation and meditation, as a form of non-religious spirituality. That workshop took place at Snow Bird Ski Resort, Utah in October 2007.
Curious Students. Several students from our local community in Evergreen, Colorado attended. A few weeks after the workshop, three of the students bluntly asked, “Now what, Daniel? You’re not just going to leave us with this knowledge and not take us further are you?”
In early December 2007 be began an Experimental Design Team that I had been developing for several years. Because the students had become acquainted with social sustainability, the interest of the majority of the group, which had grown to about twelve people, was toward sustainable social relationships.
“What should we work on, Daniel?”
“What would you like to work on?” My challenge was followed by an open discussion among the group. Their choice was to discover how to sustain intimate relationships.
The Experimental Design Team and a Primitive form of the “Schematic.” We began from what I had learned in my own therapy experiences thirty years beforehand.
The motivation to choose the topic “sustaining intimate relationships” arose as a direct result of the disappointment almost all people feel when an earnest romance crumbles, when a engagement for marriage is revoked, and when the disappointment in a marriage relationship moves toward divorce. It is natural to ask how to sustain intimate relationships.
Discovering the Causes of Disappointment in Intimate Relationships. The lineage that leads to disappointment is easy to understand in hindsight. To avoid disappointment in intimate relationships requires diligent conscious appreciation for what may develop at a time when your relationship has not even begun to bud into a bonded, intimate relationship. Few people are well prepared for what develops in their intimate lives.
In our hindsight rear view mirror, we see that disappointment was set up by false or inaccurate expectations that were established by unreal and erroneous beliefs about intimate relationships that we learned from the disastrous relationships of our parents, friends, neighbors, family, and from media of all types. Disappointment in any relationship is evidence that the people involved did not do their homework to assure their future relationship would lead to fulfillment and happiness. Because relationships always morph over time, it is essential at least yearly to review the intentions each person has for one’s self, with the other person, and jointly for the relationship.
The really insidious factor of beliefs are the bedeviling assumptions that always underlie beliefs. Assumptions are really tricky to work with because we are not even conscious of them! Reviewing intentions is a means to expose assumptions and to make adjustments.
We discovered in our Experimental Design Team that when assumptions were accepted by the whole team we all could be fooled into accepting our beliefs as true, workable, and consistent with happy outcomes. Upon closer examination of individual experiences, we learned that those assumptions common to us did not always produce happy endings. We did, however, discover that if two people in an intimate relationship held the same belief-assumptions that they could easily glide along for years that way. Later, if one of the partners begins to explore the development of their potential, goes through a course of coaching, counseling, or therapy, or even night school educational experiences, that experience and new information often results in an increase of stress in the intimate relationship.
Our Experimental Design Team continued to work well for several months, with us meeting weekly, with anywhere from 6 to 18 attending. Later, I wondered to myself why certain team members seemed to have become uninvolved in the team process. Eventually I learned that some of the members had begun to apply the disappointment-expectations-beliefs/assumptions-values to their own personal and intimate relationships. Yikes!!! Some of the older members realized that their intimate relationship and marriages were in deep trouble because the foundation of what they assumed were the shared values-beliefs-expectations of their relationships were in fact non-existent.
As I had my own professional holistic life coaching practice, I asked a pointed question, “Would anyone be willing to enter into dialogue with me about their intimate relationship?” One courageous member volunteered.
I asked, “Could you tell us the intentions you had when you married your partner?”
“Intentions? Hmmmm, I guess I never really had any intentions for my future marriage, other than the traditional ones. Now, from what I have learned in the team in the last few months, I realize that I had assumed that love would be enough to see us through the tough and bad times, together.”
Again, “Now that you have this new knowledge and understanding about intimate relationships, do you have the courage to ask your partner if he would be willing to discuss his intentions with you for your marriage?” I could see that simply by asking this question that she had become unnerved, as had several other team members. The options of the consequences of simply asking the question of her partner could be numerous, many of which would not lead to happy endings.
What I Learned by facilitating the work of our Experimental Design Team was highly instrumental for what would follow.
The Discovery of the Relationship of Values and Decision-Making What was missing from the discussions within the Design Team was how far back the lineage of logic needed to go to change disappointment into joy and relationship fulfillment. In our discussion of disappointment, expectations, and beliefs-assumptions we had gotten to the point of awareness that values always underlie decision-making. The question we asked then was this, “What values underlie inaccurate or erroneous beliefs and expectations? Obviously, the values we have been using to make decisions about our relationships have produced disappointing outcomes.”
This discussion continued for two more team meetings without any progress beyond our understanding that LIFE was the ultimate value of human existence. We could tie that value to the work that we had completed, but we struggled to discover the interpreted values related to LIFE that would help us to make decisions that produced happiness in our relationships. What we did not have were the seven values illustrated on page 5. What occurred next was nothing short of a miracle that helped us proceed.
The Ah-ha! Moment. Once in a while life gives us an “Ah-ha! Moment” that provides a clarifying insight that enters our mind like a lightning strike with all of its impulse of energy. For me it occurred after one of our weekly Team sessions while we socialized in the kitchen. Returning to the living room to prepare to go home, I stopped mid-stride with the insight of four fundamental values that underlie all human decision-making from time immemorable — Life, Equality, Growth, and Quality Of Life. These four fundamental values underlie all human decision-making. I immediately wrote those values down in my notebook.
To short-circuit a long explanation that could be given, the short version is that these are the fundamental values that underlie almost all human decision-making in all of the history of Homo sapiens. They have given our species the capability to adapt, sustain our survival, and to strive, overcome, and achieve immense growth as a species individually, socially, and in organized societies. Yet, for all of the dynamic growth those four primary values have provided, they have also brought about the profound disappointment of failed civilizations, societies, and cultures over the last 30,000 years of organized social existence of humanity.
What are the causes for the incessant failures of so many societies, and potentially our own? I suspected that it was not so much what they did that caused their failures, but what they did not do that caused those societies to fail. Obviously, they had ASSUMED expectations, beliefs, and values that supported the consistently dismal outcomes for many hundreds of societies, nations, empires, dynasties, cultures, whole civilizations, their governments, and their administrations! I do not have much interest in discovering why they failed, but rather what they did not do to remain existent to the present time. The obvious fact is that they did not have the correct understanding of the values of decision-making that supports sustained organized social existence.
Consistent, Effective Decision-Making I realized that social sustainability was not possible without the values that would support consistently effective decision-making; and, second, that the 30,000 year history of failed societies proved that this conclusion was correct. The failed history of hundreds of societies and cultures was proof enough to me that while the four primary values were more than sufficient to create powerful societies, empires, dynasties, and their governments, they were insufficient by themselves to sustain the continuing survival and social existence of those nations into a thriving future.
The Three Secondary Values. Seven years later, in 2014, the answer that would solve that problem came in another Ah-ha! moment — not from me but from the Ah-ha! moment of a dear friend. He called me upon returning home from taking his daughter to pre-school in Los Alamos, New Mexico to say that there are really three more values, Empathy, Compassion, and a generalized Love For Humanity, that are complemental to the four primary values.
The simple message of the seven values is this — you can use the four primary values to create immensely powerful organizational structures, but the application of the three secondary values is necessary to support the perpetuating social existence of that society. When it comes to the “who makes the decisions that govern the course of a nation, society, or culture?” we know that the vast majority of all decisions are made at organizational levels far higher in the hierarchy than the public. The question we must now ask is this, “Are candidates in touch with their empathy, compassion, and a generalized love for humanity to balance the unconscious drive of the four primary values?”