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Book Review: Possible Futures: Creative Thinking for the Speed of Life by Jude Treder-Wolff

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Possible Futures can help you get back in touch with creativity and connections. For all the benefits of technology today, author Jude Treder-Wolff says “We are as hungry for love and connection, for meaning and purpose, as human beings at any other time in history.”

Moving toward the intersection of mind/emotion with culture/environment, studies show the effects of a consumer-driven society tends to make us believe things we know aren’t true. Our tendency is to hold on to the old familiar as long as possible but still reap the benefits of life-changing innovations, but that results in conflicts and creates unease.

Treder-Wolff says we need critical, creative thought, but it has little opportunity to thrive when the habits of mind are impatient and ambiguous.

Citing research that eternal factors have little effect on our happiness, it’s a wonder we all seem so responsive to the consumer-driven society. In reality, the four elements of the greatest life satisfaction are:

Autonomy
Competence
Relatedness and
Self-worth

The author notes that money and luxury were very low on the happiness scale in the research cited. Instead, social capital, that sense of connectedness, ranks right up there as a fourth form of capital, along with financial, human and physical capital. We should not under-estimate its power. Epidemiologist, Richard Wilkinson, states: “Almost any measure of social affiliation seems to be related to health.”

Chapter Four, “The World Is Not Enough” contains some interesting studies about consumerism and the role of status and labels in our material world. It takes us far from the creative consciousness we need for personal and social transformation.

“We enjoy all the achievements of modern civilization that have made our physical existence on this earth easier in so many important ways, yet we do not know exactly what to do with ourselves, where to turn. The world of our experiences seems chaotic, disconnected, confusing, where everything is possible and almost nothing is certain."
Vaclav Havel, former Czech Republic President, 1995

Too often it seems we’re willing to settle for information at the expense of meaning, which leaves the author wondering: “And where are we going at this breakneck speed? Maybe to crazytown.”

“From the paper clip to the microchip, all the extraordinary technological developments that have revolutionized our lives are results of the creative process. The same energy behind humanity’s power to make language, organize communities and governments, bend a piece of metal into a spoon, turn the wool from a sheep into a sweater, to improve surgical procedures, roadways or parenting skills, is the energy that moved Michelangelo to chip away at a chunk of marble until David emerged from within.”

Reading Possible Futures, you will learn the most important change any of us can make is to refuse to live as a divided person. The energy that comes from this inward decision can send a positive effect outward to society.

Treder-Wolff states that largely without realizing it, we have allowed circumstances to control our attitudes and choices. Reading Chapter Seven, “Mind Matters,” you can see how our attitudes toward all the hassles and challenges of daily life can become the catalyst for creative choices. “People who learn to approach them with flexibility, adaptability, self-responsibility, openness to the unknown, and concern for others as well as self can acquire stress-resilience that translates into greater effectiveness in the face of high-level stress or adversity.”

Spend some time thinking about this and pair it up with the section on healthy boundaries, you may find yourself with a more balanced life, and healthy attitude.

In Chapter Nine, “Cosmic Winks,” we learn that the conditions of our life need not define our creative choices or inner attitude. The author quotes Tolstoy:

"True life is lived when tiny changes occur.”

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