Positive Reinforcement – the Key to Growth

In these days of doom, gloom and wild predictions, it’s important to retain a sense of calm and an optimistic future. We can do pretty much anything at this point. That includes mass destruction… but also includes life-affirming thoughts, actions and messaging. Let’s focus on positive reinforcement.

People get oh so crazy about the latest political event not going their way and somehow that’s the end of the world. It isn’t. I would suggest that these political events have precious little bearing on your day-to-day life. Control the controllable – this is the key.

So what do you control? How you view the world, how you act, and what you put out in your little corner of the universe. Next question would be, does positive reinforcement even matter and can you have that much of an effect?

The answer is a resounding yes!

It should be fairly obvious that you will influence close associates (and vice versa); family, friends, colleagues… but it extends much further. Throw a stone in a river and watch those ripples extend outwards. It becomes less apparent the further out it goes, but that stone you threw in, will eventually nudge the ocean… and an ocean can make some pretty big waves.  

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Chaos theory states that a seemingly small action in one place can have huge consequences in another – seemingly unrelated – later situation. Yes, a butterfly flapping its wings in Peru could cause a tsunami in Japan. Ol’ Newton had something to say about cause and effect, and how every action has an equal and opposite reaction. People also talk a lot about karma.

These are all just words to a degree, some scientific, and others a little more spiritual. But whichever way you cut it, there’s an interconnectedness that emanates out from every single thing that goes on, whether you like it or not – good, bad or neutral.

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That 2 minute interaction in a shop where you either made someone smile or upset, will affect the rest of their day and how they treat everyone else from that point on. Which will influence those people’s actions and so on and so forth. That’s just one little example.

So how do you motivate people to take action and stick a rocket up their backsides, so to speak? There’s a time and a place for all methods. Carrot and stick both work well, and in tandem can produce great results.

At Canary Green though, we want to lean on the more positive approach. Highlight the good, inspire others to follow… not regurgitate negative messaging which only puts out a bad vibe.

People do not like it and rightly so. Creating feelings of anger and anxiety can be a good motivator, sure, but generally sets things off on a bad course. Inspire people to be involved in good works of their own will and watch the magic unfold.

The process of positive reinforcement

  1. Meet people where they’re at
  2. Show them the options
  3. Display by example that certain options are superior for both the individual and wider society
  4. Then let them decide for themselves
  5. And be cool with it
  6. Rinse and repeat

This is all you can do and all you have any right to do. Even if people make ‘wrong’ decisions (in your eyes), it’s really none of your business. Just crack on and maybe you see them again a little bit down the line. Who knows, they may end up as your biggest advocate! But it needs to be on their terms and there needs to be a clear driving force.

So how does this all relate to the environment and eco matters? The same principles apply and each individual and group has a responsibility to get their own house in order first, then share those findings in an enthusiastic and non-judgemental manner. It will be noticed by those you associate with, and with social media being what it is, your activities spread far and wide.

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Whilst not every post gets engaged with, it’s out there, and you never know who’s watching and taking it to heart. There’s an old saying to dance like no-one’s watching… as in be free and be yourself – on a literal dance-floor or life in general. Perhaps we should ‘dance’ like everyone is watching… they probably are! Or they could be, and that’s the point.

We need to know the Truth (capital T) of what is going on around us and how the planet may be at risk. For sure, a realistic, balanced view is what’s called for. There have probably been several vegans and ex-smokers created as a result of seeing how animals are treated or how their lungs look.

But I would also suggest there are many people not so open to veganism due to the militant ‘vegangelical’ nature of some people out there – this causes the opposite effect. It can be likened to that oh so excited nature of the ex-smoker extolling the virtues of their new healthy lifestyle in amongst a room full of people puffing away. They may well be ‘right’ and may also want to ‘save’ you… but they probably won’t be invited to the next party.

So, whether we’re talking about Canary Green in particular, or anything any of us want to achieve or create an impact in, positivity is the best way to go. Not in some deluded, head in the clouds, not facing reality kind of way. But being aware of the good, the bad and the ugly around us, then choosing our response which will lead to the best possible outcomes for all.

People always gravitate towards what they see and also what’s best for them. Show them something amazing – camaraderie, fun, healthy living, life-affirming… give them meaning and purpose, and everyone wants to jump aboard that fun bus.

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Go the negative route, and you may get people’s attention, but you won’t have a sustained effort, it won’t be fun, and it won’t inspire others. I know what I’d prefer!

And remember – a rising tide lifts all ships. Any improvements in one area or by one person or group, can’t help but raise the level of all around it. And that is the power of what we’re dealing with and how you ultimately change the world.

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And what about you? We’re always keen to hear positive stories you have or any companies you think are operating sustainably. Please do let us know, so we can flap *our* collective wings, share with you our corner of the world and watch those ripples flow!

~ Adam

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