Dynamic Interactive AdaptabilityYour guide to promoting growth, resilience, and wellness in turbulent times

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A missing purpose

What systems theory seems to leave out, however, is any sense of purpose to development. For example, Capra (1996) said that patterns emerge from development, but no underlying purpose exists for people, planet, and cosmos. Humanists and religions alike seem to counter this perspective, seeing the human as a holistic, dynamic, purposive being with, as Abraham Maslow (1968) stated, “godlike” potential.

Maslow (1987) asserted that this potential fuels an almost universal desire to grow toward potential; however, most people choose not to grow because growth is hard—stressful. People simply do not want stress in their lives and do whatever they can to avoid what they perceive as stress. Believing stress is a disease that will kill them (Oz, 2009) either provides people with an excuse to do nothing or inflicts anxiety that everyday stressors are serious threats. Also, removing purpose from the development process may exacerbate psychological problems because it may diminish human hopes, aspirations, and motivations.

Like Bertalanffy, Maslow (1965) observed that the more affluent humans become, the less they seem able to handle even the simple realities of life. For example, despite living in one of the most affluent nations in history, the United States has fostered a population of people who are decreasingly able to cope; collectively whining about how life should be easy while failing to appreciate and build on the blessings at hand. Maslow called this “Grumble Theory,” which asserts that the more people have, the louder they complain about what they don't have, and the more one need or complaint is satisfied, the more justified they will feel in complaining and voicing dissatisfaction.

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Misawa Air Base personnel volunteer for Japan's recovery【東日本大震災津波】