rethinked * annex



rethinked*annex is a year-long experiment in being and becoming. It is a more focused and self-aware version of what we all do every day–questioning our assumptions as we attempt to live out our values and ideas and lead meaningful satisfying lives.

At rethinked…*, we are particularly drawn to certain philosophies and disciplines of change, notably Design Thinking (DT), Integrative Thinking (IT) and Positive Psychology/Character Strength (PP). While the team has been exploring how these various disciplines might be used to innovate and optimize learning and teaching practices, I (Elsa) wanted to find out how one might go about applying the tools, frameworks and methodologies from these various disciplines to one’s daily life to optimize, enhance and evolve experiences of self and existence. To explore this question at a truly individual, micro level, I have volunteered to spend the next year ‘living out’ and experimenting with various expressions of one or two principal ideas from each of three core disciplines and their relationship to one another. The rethinked*annex project has two main goals:


  1. 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).
  2. ENGAGE & EXPERIMENT in a deep and systematic manner with the rethinked…* ideas, values, philosophies and world views at an individual level. In the process, I hope to discover new ways to articulate potential questions that rethinked …* will focus on in the future.

To guide my inquiry, I have created a list of questions to explore throughout the duration of the project. It is impossible to formulate hypothesis for questions which have not yet been asked, and which we might not even have the language and concepts to formulate in the first place. I am not trying to arrive at a finite conclusion of how one should live his or her life. In fact, I reject whole-heartedly the notion that such a single ideal does exist. I do not seek ultimate truths but ways of being that can be easily implemented by myriad people to illuminate and {re}energize their existence.



  • How might I map out a user friendly database of knowledge?
  • How might I record ideas so that I can access them seamlessly?
  • How might I create an environment and method to document and organize new ideas that I am exposed to in such a way as to maximize my engagement forming new connections among various other concepts?


  • I seek to approach every new situation free of judgment yet I ascribe to certain values and philosophies; what are some creative  resolutions to that tension?
  • How can I help the individual implement relevant behaviors, resources, language and ways of thinking from DT, IT, PP, ACA, in his or her daily life?
  • How do I shatter my own assumptions on a daily basis?
  • What does {can} it mean to live with intent?


To explore DT, IT, PP, I have selected one book from each discipline 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.


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 and record all of my findings and questions on the rethinked…* blog.


    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.


My 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 to understand how they relate to one another. 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 their own lives. I will explore various ways to make ideas 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, I hope 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:

September 1 ~ December 1 DESIGN THINKING





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 ~


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