With our theme of Burnout and Balance, we talked to Chris Johnstone, resilience expert and author of ‘Find Your Power‘ and, with Joanna Macy, ‘Active Hope‘. He gave us 5 great tips for avoiding burnout and creating balance, both in your own life and that of your Transition group. Today’s first one is “See enthusiasm as a resource”:
“Recognise enthusiasm as a valuable natural resource. People in the environmental movement work really hard to protect forests, to protect fisheries, to protect meadows, and in there we also need to list, as endangered areas in need of protection, activist enthusiasm. We need to recognise that enthusiasm is a valuable renewable resource, something that needs valuing, putting centre stage. When you put it centre stage you say this is one of the things we act to protect, because if you lose that, then you lose the capacity to protect everything else. That’s the starting point.
And when you have that, it’s a paradigm shift, it’s a programme change. It’s like asking “what’s your core operating principle?”, “what are the most important values?”. Sometimes this gets gets dismissed as “oh that’s just feelgood stuff”, “that’s a bit indulgent”, and I think that’s such a mistake, because the danger of not having enthusiasm centre stage is that you have model of activism that’s all about working very very hard, but people end up being grumpy and miserable, and they’re not great adverts for becoming involved!
You see the people who are really busy as activists, and you look at them and you think “well they’re not having much fun in their life” and so then you create this split between things that people do out of duty, and, you know, that’s seen as very altruistic, and then there’s the things that people do for pleasure”.
Tip #2 will be “redefine what you mean by “a good life”.