New Ideas of Progress: Circles and Tones
The idea that progress is always linear, forward and upward, has long been questionable. In recent years, many economic observers have declared that even stable living standards should be seen as an achievement. Recently, I found myself pondering different models of how progress can be recognised: we urgently need these as the conventional linear ones are becoming less helpful.
If we look to nature as a guide, we see that growth is often cyclical. At Hazel Hill Wood, an informal community celebrates the eight seasonal festivals of the Celtic year, and I highly recommend this as a way to recognise and value circular progress, and the joys of the moment.
The old practice of morning and evening prayer, to dedicate the day and then give thanks for it, marks another cycle. And as life gets more turbulent, frequent gratitude for what’s positive can really help our resilience.
The prevailing ideas of progress are material actions: winning a football league, an election, a pay rise. It would help us all to recognise progress in states of being and feeling: I’ve coined the term tones for these. If we’re in a calmer, happier tone more often, that’s progress which deserves celebrating.
A subtler aspect of tones is the absence of problems. As the stresses of daily life keep rising, I see progress in having my roof and fences intact after the latest gale, or my health robust despite the flu bug, or in not falling out with my neighbours. This relates to the value of gratitude in sustaining our resilience.
So one of my tips for resilience is to notice cycles and tone, and use them as a reminder to celebrate your progress in all its forms, often.