“Satisfied people” as catalysts of change.

Last week I posted a question on my Facebook page, “ If you had to choose between being happy versus being satisfied, what would you choose?” An overwhelming majority of my Facebook friends who responded to my question choose to be happy, rather than be satisfied.

My interpretation of the rationale given by a few respondents is- once you achieve happiness you can be satisfied. Happiness is the goal; whereas satisfaction is the end-state. I also sense an implicit misconception in the interpretation of the word “satisfied” that satisfied people are not motivated to do better or achieve more once they are satisfied. I disagree and therefore I present my own alternate view that in fact being satisfied is a state of empowerment for embarking on a journey of sustainable change in the life of others.

I propose that “Being satisfied” is the core emotional strength of catalysts of change. They work as a part of the communities within which they want to bring about sustainable and positive transformation. No matter how challenging the situation they face, they are able to find solutions by tapping into the wisdom, intelligence and skills available within the community.

I have seen many idealists feel frustrated or defeated in pursuit of their ideals. I have also met people who relentlessly pursue transformation and reforms from within the communities in which they live. They know how to use available resources to maximum impact. In social sciences they are called. Positive Deviants.

The concept of Positive Deviance (PD) refers to a behavioral and social change approach which is premised on the observation that in any context, certain individuals confronting similar challenges, constraints, and resource deprivations to their peers, will nonetheless employ uncommon but successful behaviors or strategies which enable them to find better solutions.

Positive deviance approach. is based around five core principles:

  1. communities possess the solutions and expertise to best address their own problems;
  2. These communities are self-organising entities with sufficient human resources and assets to derive solutions to communal problems,
  3. Communities possess a ‘collective intelligence’, equally distributed through the community, which the PD approach seeks to foster and draw out;
  4. The foundation of any PD approach rests on sustainability and the act of enabling a community to discover solutions to their own problems through the study of local “positive deviants”, and
  5. Behavior change is best achieved through practice and the act of “doing”. (Source: https://www.betterevaluation.org/en/plan/approach/positive_deviance)

Positive deviants possess the mindset that allows them to serve as catalysts of sustainable change. Their approach to problem solving is grounded in their own personal sense of agency.

In this context I quote extracts from the article. “7 things really satisfied people do” by Kevin Duam in Inc. magazine

“People who live a satisfied life are better equipped to deal with the curves that life puts in their path. They see challenges in business and personal life as adventures and opportunities that help them aspire and accomplish.

  1. They love to make the most of the opportunities and relationships that come their way.
  2. They aren’t hasty; they gather the data they need to make informed choices. But neither do they get trapped in a cycle of analysis paralysis.
  3. They surround themselves with people who can round out their weaknesses and complement their strengths.
  4. They spend less time judging why things don’t work out and spend more time being grateful for the rare times when they do.
  5. They know the value of personally helping others, from mentoring young people with promise to helping someone less fortunate make a new start.
  6. Nothing accelerates a person like constant learning. Really satisfied people know that knowledge is its own reward, but that it drives success as well.
  7. They know when it is time to stop investing time, energy, or money in something that is not working, and when to call for a “do over.””

I have always been inspired by revolutionaries and disruptive innovators. I am fascinated by visionaries who are able to harness anger, pain and suffering and translate it into creative solutions. I have in the past been moved by the oratory of leaders who use their own anger to energize and mobilize people behind their revolutions. At the same time I have learned that more than angry revolutionaries, calm and composed, curious and compassionate reformers have historically brought about more sustainable changes in the society.

I have today embraced a new mindset as a catalyst of change- the mindset of a satisfied positive deviant.

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A design activist and ethnographer of social imagination.

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Uday Dandavate

Uday Dandavate

A design activist and ethnographer of social imagination.

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