There is a common belief that greed, selfishness, corruption, violence and other negative traits are just “human nature”. I fundamentally disagree with this belief.
Both from personal and mediated experience, what I see is that people are remarkably good, caring and generous. Most of us have strong and positive values, most of us want to do good things with our lives and for others.
I have done my own informal survey of the life purposes of well over 3000 people and the results show that there is not a single person out of that number whose purpose is selfish or aggressive. I accept that the sample is largely self selected and not fully representative, but it is still a large enough sample to expect reasonable variation. For further inspiring evidence of our instinct for harmony see Eric Whitacre’s global choir on Ted on my new “AuthenticTube” channel (set up in response to feedback in to my recent survey asking for more video – please send me your inspiring suggestions for inclusion.)
Clearly there is greed, corruption, violence etc. So where does this come from?
Largely, it comes from fear and insecurity. When we are under stress it is easier to be tempted to compromise our values and look for a quick hit of confidence at someone else’s expense.
Most of us will have experience of some sort of bullying behaviour, at school or in the work place. Bullying is an attempt, by the insecure, to assert themselves, physically or mentally over others. Most destructive behaviour is a variation on the theme of bullying.
We all want to feel secure, most of us seek security through positive approaches; the pursuit of purpose, building up a network of friends, contributing value to others or seeking the reassurance of the support of others. These approaches from a positive spiral towards peace, fulfilment and happiness.
Some of us, who do not have fully embedded positive values around honesty and integrity, will resort to more negative and short-term ways to feel secure, by demeaning others, grabbing at wealth or through violence. These approaches lead to a negative spiral leading to further insecurity, stress and further negativity.
For those taking the more positive approach, the negative one can be deeply frustrating. For those taking the negative approach, the positive one is barely visible.
The key is to build confidence, resilience and strong positive values in everyone so that we are less likely to resort to negative security strategies. A new organisation Action for Happiness has been launched to help promote a positive approach to security in society. The route to world peace lies in widespread self-confidence, fulfilment and happiness.
We can help people in the negative security spiral by building their self confidence and their confidence in their values, so that they can take a more positive approach to self confidence.
We can build people’s self confidence by praising their good qualities, in some cases we may actually be helping them to identify these good qualities for the first time. We can also help to build confidence in their values by complimenting them on the positive values they do hold and finding ways to link those values to the ones they may be transgressing.
An easy way to identify someones values is to find out what they are angry about. If someone is angry about unfairness, for example, then it is likely that they feel strongly about fairness and may hold it as a value. If someone with a strong value around fairness, is also insecure they are likely to think about fairness as it applies to them. We may be able to build their sense of compassion and care, by demonstrating how fairness works best if it is universal and that we are more likely to be treated fairly if we treat others fairly.
We can use these techniques with friends, family and work colleagues (even your boss) to help them be more self confident and create a more harmonious environment.
In response to my recent “Magic Monday” survey I am now also offering to train personal coaches and business coaches and trainers in my unique techniques.