The Art of Possibility
by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
Reviewed by Joyce Muraoka
One of the Practices offered in the book is: “Stepping Into A Universe of Possibility”
In the first practice (chapter) of the Zanders’ book, we were invited to become aware of the underlying assumptions we have made that give us what we see; to understand the point from which we view the world. Once we realize that we have invented our everyday reality, we can begin to expand the borders; create a universe of possibility with greater choices.
In the confining ‘world of measurement’ we have become used to defining ourselves by how we are graded and how we compare with others; life is defined as a game of winning and losing. The ‘world of measurement’ assumes that life is about survival, and is accompanied by a lurking fear that there is scarcity and danger that we must guard against. Competition, gaining for the separated self, anxiety with the threat of rejection, lack of satiation and joy, and playing it safe become the way of living.
It is when we step outside of the ‘world of measurement’ into a ‘universe of possibility’ that other choices become available. With an attitude of abundance that new ideas,
customers, and money are available, we begin to focus on connecting with people
around us rather than just achieving the mark. When we think in a generative and
inclusive way, ideas and resources come into view that we would otherwise be
unable to see.
Of course there is a difference between survival and survival-thinking, just as there is a difference between scarcity and scarcity-thinking. There are people who truly must concentrate on staying alive,and are experiencing scarcity of fundamental needs. However, survival-thinking and scarcity-thinking are attitudes that permeate even the well-to-do. Those who operate under scarcity-thinking often accumulate resources with a fervor that ends up depleting the Earth faster than she can regenerate, and withholds
sharing those resources with those in need.
“In the measurement world, you set a goal and strive for it. In the universe of possibility, you set the context and let life unfold.” p. 21
This is not about being “pollyanish” about life. Rather, it is about engaging greater life. To allow the creative energy of life to flow, we have to recognize and open doors to
This second practice will help you step over the threshold to a ‘universe of possibility.’ To boldly go further into this universe… well, you’ll have to stay tuned for next month’s Practice 3. . .or get this book and Read On!
Practice 2: A Universe of Possibility
This practice is designed to reveal how deeply the hidden framework of the ‘world of
measurement’ rules your life. Once you have uncovered this framework, you will
find yourself stepping into the realm of possibility beyond it. Begin by asking
“How are my thoughts and actions, in this moment, reflections of the measurement world?”
“You look for thoughts and actions that reflect survival and scarcity, comparison and competition, attachment and anxiety. Notice that the question is not, “Are my thoughts. . .” which is a question of measurement, but “How are my thoughts. . .” which is a true inquiry. See how easy it is to argue that you are an exception, that you personally are
not governed by any such set of assumptions. This, of course, is another example
of the measurement world at work.
You keep asking the question until you finally appreciate how hopeless it is to escape being shaped by the assumptions that underlie all of life. And then you may begin to laugh.” pp. 22-23