Resources to help you make sense of what is going on in the world.
As our daily lives get disrupted and the larger systems that our society runs on begin to break under the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is becoming increasingly important for all of us to practice resilience and sovereignty.
*At the bottom of this article, I have included a list of the best Future Thinkers podcast episodes on the subjects of sovereignty, sensemaking, and resilience in the face of the unprecedented changes the world is going through.
Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and to adapt to new circumstances.
I have noticed many people suddenly becoming concerned with their health — eating better, exercising more, learning to meditate. Others are taking online courses or reading books. Yet others have finally planted that garden they’ve been wanting to for years. Many have reconnected with their families and communities and have made an effort to help others.
This is how resilience shows up in in everyday life as response to a crisis.
During times of peace, relative economic stability, and abundance, focusing on building resilience is rarely our first priority. People just go about their lives without questioning things much.
Sovereignty is the capacity to respond consciously to the world: to see reality clearly, to make sense of it, and take appropriate action.
When it comes to sovereignty, most of us never even question whether we have it or not until we experience a loss of it.
It’s only when life no longer makes sense that we start to question if what we believe is actually true.
We don’t think about our ability to withstand emotional upheaval and deal with grief until it hits us in the face. It’s not until someone dies, or we’re thrown into existential despair, that we start contemplating how we’re going to stay sane through all of it.
It often takes a crisis to wake us up to the necessity of resilience & sovereignty.
Many people live paycheque to paycheque. Few people even have enough savings to cover the expense of a medical emergency or their car breaking down, not to mention having enough saved up to keep their family afloat for 6 months in case of an unforeseen loss of income.
Now, all of a sudden, we’re realizing why being prepared and having that buffer would have been a good idea.
Many more people will likely be bankrupted than be killed by COVID-19.
Many businesses run with less than 3 months worth of reserve funds. Hospitals only have a few more beds and staff on call than what they need day to day. Most governments don’t have a department to deal with pandemics.
In normal times that may be enough, and having any more would be inefficient. Unfortunately, we are no longer in normal times.
In a crisis, what looked like efficiency now looks like fragility. And what looked like inefficiency now looks like a life-or-death necessity.
The same pattern plays our on a personal level. Many people didn’t question the status quo of how the world is run, because they didn’t have to. They’ve been able to live their lives without concerning themselves with the big picture. It was easy when the bad things were happening somewhere else, to those other people.
Now suddenly, we’ve been hit with a crisis that concerns everyone, here, now. It’s real and personal and immediate. And it’s creating a very rude awakening for billions of people.
The pandemic is making it clear that we cannot got back to the way we’ve been doing things.
We can’t go back to normal, because we see now that it wasn’t normal to begin with. We have to change. But change is costly, both on a personal and a systemic level.
People and systems rarely change unless there is sufficient external pressure that pushes them to do so.
Viruses have played a major role in human and planetary evolution. Ancient viruses that infected our ancestors now make up 8% of the human genome.
This virus is pressure that is pushing on us and our systems — medical, political, economic. It’s making us reconsider how we run our systems, and how we run our daily lives as well.
When it comes to societal systems, the real effects still remain to be seen. This crisis will catalyze the problems that were already brewing for decades, and reveal to us the things that are broken in our governments, economies, and societies. There will be many more second-order effects than what we’ve already seen.
Many of us have had to become amateur epidemiologists for the lack of information early on and the inadequate response from various institutions.
I have honestly seen better and more timely sensemaking of this pandemic from the collective intelligence of people on Twitter than I have from any institution or single expert.
This is a major sign that our systems cannot withstand the crisis that is upon us. On many levels, things are going to get harder before they get better.
We are all going to need to get a hell of a lot more resilient and a hell of a lot more sovereign.
My partner Mike and I have been talking about these topics a lot on our podcast, Future Thinkers. Our interest in these subjects came not by accident, but by necessity after having experienced many serious challenges, crises, and failures throughout our lives.
Below I have compiled a list of free resources — our best podcast episodes that deal with the topics of sovereignty, sensemaking, and resilience in the face of the unprecedented changes the world is undergoing right now.
Some of these episodes talk about personal resilience and some focus more on societal change and existential risks. They are most useful if taken together, since the lessons in them provide different perspectives that interconnect. I hope you find them useful.
We talk about their stories of learning to practice sovereignty and suggest some ideas, techniques and exercises from their personal experience that others can try.
Canadian psychologist John Vervaeke explains what the meaning crisis is and what are some of the practices to deal with it. He talks about how the quest for wisdom and self-transcendence is the key to unlocking meaning in life.
In this 2-part interview, entrepreneur and writer Derek Sivers talks about stoicism, minimalism, and exploring freedom to its extremes. He also explores practices for increasing self-knowledge, and the many different ways in which people can thrive and find fulfillment.
Renowned Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson talks about understanding the subconscious mind, finding meaning in a meaningless world, and why we shouldn’t aim to create a utopia.
It wouldn’t be a conversation about resilience without bringing up the subject of depression. Having both experienced depression at different points in our lives, we talk about scientifically proven ways to overcome it or at least lessen its effects.
We talk about overcoming fear and helplessness, practicing minimalism, developing mental flexibility and self-sovereignty, and other tools that can help us become more adaptive in a chaotic world.
We also talk about how what it means to be an adult has changed, and what meta-skills we need to develop in order to adapt to this fast-changing world.
Startup founder turned trauma healer Cris Beasley talks about emotional healing practices that can help us improve our quality of life, fix our relationships, and help us gain more sovereignty.
In this heart-wrenching interview with South Sudanese ex-child-soldier, you will hear his incredible story of overcoming immense trauma and coming out on the other side.
Collective and Community Resilience:
Group flow researcher Jamie Wheal talks about how to make sense in a world that is unraveling faster than we can keep up with, and the challenges to creating functional collective intelligence and resilient communities.
A two-part interview with climate scientist Joe Brewer explores regenerative cultures and how to build resilience at the level of communities and bioregions.
Complexity researcher Jim Rutt explains the concept of Game B — a different social “operating system” that could potentially replace today’s capitalism. He also talks about how to strengthen a municipality and make it more resilient to potential collapse scenarios.
Jordan (Green)Hall — Sovereignty in Chaos & Why We Need Collective Intelligence During Global Collapse
In this two-part interview, entrepreneur and existential philosopher Jordan (Green)Hall introduces the concept of cognitive sovereignty and why it’s especially important in chaotic times and talks about why collective intelligence is something we need if we are to mitigate systemic collapse.
Filmmaker and educator Nora Bateson discusses the complexity of understanding global existential problems, what it means to do sensemaking, and what we really need for social and cultural change.
CSO of Human Rights Foundation Alex Gladstein talks about why civil liberties make a country better for its people, what the future of governance is, and why anti-authoritarian technologies like Bitcoin are important for that future.
Daniel Schmachtenberger — Global Phase Shift and Solving The Generator Functions of Existential Risks
These are some of the many interviews we have done with systems thinker Daniel Schmachteberger. In Global Phase Shift, he talks about the transformation humanity seems to be undergoing right now.
In Winning Humanity’s Existential Game, Daniel talks about designing resilient post-capitalist systems.
In the last 3-parter, he lays out the steps we have to take as a collective to solve the causes of potential existential risks to humanity.
Going Deeper Into Practicing Resilience & Sovereignty
If you want to dive deeper into the practices and exercises for building resilience and sovereignty, we teach several courses on these subjects and host weekly group sensemaking calls. Register for the Future Thinkers Members community to join us.