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Thrivability: Breaking Through to a World that Works

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Principles to Thrive by

August 4, 2009

What are the core princples that are thrivable. We will explore stories of thriving people, projects, communities, networks, and organizations to find patterns at play.




What are the core principles of being thrivable?


What stories can you tell or point to that you feel are about thrivable people, projects, or patterns?


Principles to Thrive by+Discussions+comments from discussion.


The core principles of thrivability emerge from viewing a wide spectrum of activity and action we perceive as thrivable.


We define thrivability as the capability and desire to self-organize to use what is present and build what is not, including the network/community/group. It is a super-charged version of sustainable. It is more than surviving. Thrivable is succeeding in being good stewards of our own future - physically, intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally. Thrivability builds on itself. It is a cycle of actions which reinvest energy for future use and stretch resources further. It transcends sustainability by creating an upward spiral of greater possibilities and increasing energy. Each cycle builds the foundation for new things to be accomplished. Thrivability emerges from the persistent intention to create more value than you consume. When practiced over time this builds a world of ever increasing possibilities. Thrivability works like life on earth works. We have access to fertile soil, schools of fish, and deposits of oil because life has been storing up this energy slowly and carefully for many millions of years. 


What principles, then, are present in thrivability. What patterns emerge?


We see thrivability as self-evolving. It emerges. While small pieces can be designed intentionally, the overall ability to thrive is greater than the sum of the designed parts. Along with self-evolving is the principle of being organic. And sure we mean not using pesticides where possible, but that is at the practice level. At the principle level, we mean it is not rigid. It has flexibility and expands in an organic fashion.


Openness and transparency go hand in hand as principles of thrivability. This is not meant in absolutist terms. There is value in boundaries and privacy. By naming these principles, we point to how they are more critical in thriving than they have been in previous times. They are principles in the context of our current world, rather than absolute principles of all thrivability in all time. 


Thrivability depends on optimism. Its nature it is expansive, which is the space of optimism. Pessimism, fear, doubt, and scarcity (which are contractive) reduce thriving by reducing choice and hope.


Thrivability must be a persistent intention. A seemingly thrivable moment may not lead to a thrivable world. It is the accumulation of actions, consistently building on each other that creates a thrivable world.


Awareness and presence are core principle of thriving. We thrive in a context. That context is part of many interdependent systems. Being aware of those systems allows for informed choices for regulating the health of those systems and thus their thrivability. Being present to them is about having a powerful sense of awareness in the current moment. Both in the focus of what is before us and in a broader awareness of the context.


Directly related to our awareness, is the principle of the commons. The systems we are each and all a part of overlap, we have them in common. Replenishing and nurturing the commons is a critical leverage point for increasing our thrivability.


Thrivability depends on the principle of empathy. Empathy goes beyond compassion - feeling for another as other. Empathy is placing oneself into another position and feeling from there. Pure empathy can's exist, as we assume no two humans have 100% overlaps in experience to draw from. However, to the degree we are able, sensing from the perspective of another is vital for being thrivable. When empathetic, we act from true care of the outcomes for another as if they were our own.


Empathy feeds our ability to achieve mutual benefit. Mutual benefit is one of the principles of thrivability that allows for, indeed, catalyzes our ability to create greater possibility. Where we can develop non-zero-sum games that allow for mutual benefit, we increase our thrivability.


Speaking of non-zero sum games, creating more value than you consume is another core principle of thrivability. To increase what we have, make more than what you had. Create more value than you consumed. This can exist in small cycles of a particular activity, and it can act in large cycles of hundreds of years. Might it be true that our consumption of resources over the last couple centuries will in turn allow us to create some value greater than that consumption? Not yet. How might we make that true?


Fundementally, the guiding principle of behavior in the thrivable world is do onto others as they would like done onto them. This is an evolution of the golden rule, seen in all cultures as a meme for sustaining life in a collective. In small communities of significant overlap, it is appropriate to do onto others as you want done to you, since those others are very likely to be like you. In a world as diverse as ours, we can not presume to have a direct empathetic connection to others. Instead, we must ask, what they want done to them, and as we are able, try to do that.





Pre Conference




Thrivability: A Collaborative Sketch

a collection of over 60 essays and images crafting a topography for thriving

11596 medium


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Thrivability: A Collaborative Sketch




Case for Thrivability

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