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Reflections on change

The cCHALLENGE project is in its final week after 30 days of change experiments. In this article Karen O´Brien writes about the power of experience and reflections, and how this relates to the cCHALLENGE journey.Read More

Transformation happens when we see things from a new perspective. That is, when we step back from our everyday lives and reflect, paying attention not only to what we do and why, but also how we feel about it. Reflections give us a different point of view.

This is what the cCHALLENGE is about. 20 people are doing a 30-day experiment, committing to one small change in their lives. They gain first-hand experience and insights on the relationship between personal change and system change. They begin to see where and how they make a difference.

Reading the cCHALLENGE blogs, it becomes clear that a little reflection can go a long way. Take student and creator of Klimakortene  Marte Skaara’s challenge of each day asking a stranger on the streets of Bergen what he or she thinks is the solution to climate change. She gets them to reflect, even if for only a moment, on their own attitude towards climate change and its solutions. The answers are varied, and each one triggers Marte to reflect on themes such as optimism versus pessimism, technical solutions versus political solutions, responsibility, and approaches to change.

Inger Dybvik, who is currently writing her first book, has challenged herself to spend one hour in nature every day, giving herself time to both play and reflect. Her reflection on the magnificence of trees led her to data on tropical deforestation and the destruction of old growth forests, which in turn led her to feel deep despair. Yet further reflection created a space for agency; she saw that she could focus on solutions and do something. This led her to join the Woodland Trust and to commit to planting one tree for every ten books that she sells. We are hoping her book is a bestseller!

Marques Anderson’s vegan challenge has led him to reflect on choices – including how making one choice opens the door for new and unexpected opportunities. He compares the process of setting new intentions to be like a young bird, discovering for the first time that it has the capacity to fly – and to do so naturally, without thinking about it.

Everyone can reflect on change, but it is particularly powerful when you can link it to an experience, in this case an experiment. A reflection that emerges through an embodied experience can be much more powerful than a cognitive reflection. In fact, transformation seldom happens through mindless change, as when when we are passively nudged or re-directed into doing something differently to satisfy someone else’s goal. This does not motivate individuals to take actions that can actually make a difference.

The small changes that we all make may or may not be significant, but changing our approach to change can make a big difference. To get to this, reflection is necessary. When we reflect on our thoughts, emotions or actions, we create a small and safe observation space. Instead of being fused with our inner-life, this space allows for curiosity, critique and compassion. Reflections on our role within systems can be a powerful pathway to changing systems.

This is an modified version of the original article published at the cCHALLENGE webpage.

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