WHAT IS RETHINKED*ANNEX?
rethinked*annex is a rethinked…* side project and is first and foremost a year long experiment in being. It is a more focused and self-aware version of what we all do every day–attempt to live out our values and ideas as we seek to lead meaningful, satisfying lives. At rethinked…* we are particularly drawn to certain philosophies and disciplines, notably Design Thinking (DT), Integrative Thinking (IT), Positive Psychology/Character Strength (PP) and Applied Virtue (AV). How might we apply abstract concepts from these disciplines to our daily lives to maximize our experiences of self and existence. To explore these questions at a truly individual, micro level, I have volunteered to spend the next year living out one or two principles from each of five core books that rethinked…* team members have selected as being most representative of the four disciplines. The rethinked*annex project has two main goals:
- CREATE & CURATE a database of resources surrounding the methodologies and philosophies rethinked…* believes in and recommends for living meaningful, authentic and happy lives (DT, IT, PP, AV).
- ENGAGE & EXPERIMENT in a deep and systematic manner with the rethinked…* ideas, values, philosophies and world views at an individual level. We seek to find easily implementable ways to modify behaviors and systems in our lives to enhance our experiences. In the process, we hope to discover new ways to articulate potential questions that rethinked …* will focus on in the future.
To guide my inquiry we have created a list of questions to explore throughout the duration of the project. It is impossible to formulate hypothesis for questions which we have not yet asked, and which we might not even have the language and concepts to formulate in the first place. We are not trying to arrive at a finite conclusion of how one should live his or her life. In fact, we reject whole-heartedly the notion that such a single ideal does exist. We do not seek ultimate truths but ways of being that can be easily implemented by myriad people to illuminate and reenergize their existence.
CREATE & CURATE:
- How do we map out a user friendly database of knowledge?
- How do we record ideas so that we can access them seamlessly?
- How do we create an environment and method to document and organize new ideas that we are exposed to in such a way as to maximize our engagement forming new connections among various other concepts?
ENGAGE & EXPERIMENT
- We seek to approach every new situation free of judgment yet we ascribe to certain values and philosophies; what does it mean to live out our values and the tension that creates with our desire to be judgment free in all new encounters?
- How can we help the individual implement relevant behaviors, resources, language and ways of thinking from DT, IT, PP, AV, in his or her daily life?
- How do we shatter our own assumptions on a daily basis?
- What does it mean to the individual in his or her everyday to live with intent?
To explore DT, IT, PP, AV, the rethinked…* team has selected one book from each discipline (two books for Positive Psychology) to be the focus of my inquiry. The aim is not to follow every idea and precept in the book but rather to select one or two key features from each on which to base that discipline’s cycle of the project.
THE FIVE BOOKS
- Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation ~ Tim Brown
- The Opposable Mind How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking ~ Roger Martin
- Authentic Happiness Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment ~ Martin Seligman
- Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being ~ Martin Seligman
- Nicomachean Ethics ~ Aristotle
I will craft my investigation of these disciplines mainly as design challenges surrounding one or two key concepts highlighted in each of the books in relation to how they apply to tangible problems or dreams for my daily life. Each of the cycles will last three months and be broken down into three phases. I will observe, reflect on and record all of my findings and questions in the rethinked…* blog.
- DISCOVERY/BRAINSTORMING (1 month)
- Read the book
- Build database of resources mentioned in the book
- Find other and opposing perspectives
- Select one or two aspects of the book that I am going to use to rethink and redesign aspects of my life.
- IMPLEMENTATION/PROTOTYPING (6 weeks)
- Experiment with various ways of implementing the resources, tools and behaviors that I have selected from the book in my every day life.
- I will also actively seek out conversations about the discipline through interviews, impromptu conversations, and visits to places or people that embody similar values and systems to the ones detailed in the book.
- FEEDBACK/EVOLUTION (2 weeks)
- The next two weeks will be dedicated to reflecting on my experiences living out the chosen concepts from the book. I will examine the impact, the questions that emerged and the new connections created in the process. I will record and observe my own feedback to the prototypes for implementing these ideas and will begin to brainstorm what the next phase of that particular challenge will look like.
Our overarching aim with the database is to create and curate a vast resource of interconnected ideas about Design Thinking, Integrative Thinking, Positive Psychology/Character Strength and Applied Virtue. The database’s raison d’être is to nurture an environment where people can experiment freely with the ideas and concepts of the three disciplines and where they can rethink connections between these concepts and the things in their lives. I will explore various ways to make ideas highly accessible, malleable and user friendly in the hopes of broadening the conversation and expanding our perspectives about what it means to live a meaningful, happy and authentic life.
By the end of each of the four cycles, we want to have a complete database that encompasses
- Quotes from the book
- A review of the book
- A list of resources from the book
- Descriptions and links to the studies, authors, people, ideas and movements mentioned in the book
- A glossary of relevant terms
- A list of resources pertaining to the field as a whole
- Links, videos, articles and descriptions of other major players, contested or opposing ideas, history, offshoots and influences.
July 16th ~ September 1 DISCOVERY
rethinked*annex starts July 16, 2012 with a seven-week period during which I will read the five core books to get a sense of which aspects of each book I intend to focus on in the following months. I will outline themes and areas of interests for each book to ensure some coherence and diversity over the course of the project.
I will also read five different accounts from other people who have attempted to design their lives around various ideals. I will try to learn from their experiences and perspective the most salient ways to tangibly implement abstract ideas and values into one’s every day life. These are:
- Walden by Henry David Thoreau
- Letters to A Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens
- Anatomy of Restlessness by Bruce Chatwin
- The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton
- Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by Tal Ben-Shahar
September 1 ~ December 1 POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY & CHARACTER STRENGTH
December 1 ~ March 1 INTEGRATIVE THINKING
March 1 ~ June 1 DESIGN THINKING
July 1 ~ November 1 APPLIED VIRTUE
I hope that you will join me in conversation and experimentation with these ideas. Examine and observe your daily life and create design challenges to rethink behaviors, spaces, beliefs and attitudes that you identify as not working optimally. As always, feel free to contact me with ideas, suggestions, feedback, complaints and creative obsessions ~ firstname.lastname@example.org