“When a system is in dysfunctional equilibrium it is necessary to push it into disequilibrium to regain a functional equilibrium.”

This was a quote shared in a staff meeting I was at this morning. The leader of the meeting was referencing the words of Bishop David Anderson, who gave the origins of it being from within the practice of Family Systems Therapy.

The quote struck me, and I think it is one which can be applied in many contexts, and may be a useful paradigm with which to evaluate ones creative discipline (by which I mean our field of work) – 11/11/2009

I imagine that at the time, by “field of work” I meant writing. Writing, however, is only one of a diverse range of creative disciplines, so why limit the scope?

Along similar lines, a re-read of the quote, leaves the impression -at least to me- that this thought can be applied to a diverse spectrum of situations. Ordinary, every day ones: relationships, family, politics, work, health and so on. But maybe it would be helpful to have some definitions within which to frame this current musing…

  1. not operating normally or properly.

    “the telephones are dysfunctional”

  1. a state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced.

    “the task is the maintenance of social equilibrium”

  1. a loss or lack of equilibrium or stability, especially in relation to supply, demand, and prices.
  • of or having a special activity, purpose, or task.
“a functional role” relating to the way in which something works or operates.
  • sources: Google Dictionary/Oxford Dictionary of English

I can’t help wondering if this state of ‘functional equilibrium’ is just a ‘new normal’, which may or may not be the best state of affairs; but you’re working with it, because that is what you have.

A very brief google search (so feel free to investigate further), seems to lend support to my wonderings:

New Normal is a term in business and economics that refers to financial conditions following the financial crisis of 2007-2008 and the aftermath of the 2008–2012 global recession. The term has since been used in a variety of other contexts to imply that something which was previously abnormal has become commonplace. – Wikipedia

New normal
The current state of being after some dramatic change has transpired. What replaces the expected, usual, typical state after an event occurs. The new normal encourages one to deal with current situations rather than lamenting what could have been.Urban Dictionary

I also can’t help feeling a bit wary, of exactly what will be involved in order to  “push it into disequilibrium to regain a functional equilibrium.” or maybe I’m just thinking too deeply about this.

If I try to think of this in more basic of terms, when making fresh coffee, if the grinds aren’t even (e.g. all heaped to one side or a mound in the middle) one gives them a bit of a shake (disequilibrium) so as to balance them out . If you’re using an espresso machine, you use a tamper. Because if they are left uneven, when the hot water is added, the brewing process is going to be dysfunctional, and your coffee won’t taste as good as it should.

Hmmm… I haven’t had any coffee today, and it is after 8pm.*

Okay, bringing myself back to my point about the opening quote being applicable to a diverse spectrum of situations, I am reminded of the concept of

“just change one thing.”

I’m not sure who shared this thought with me, or if I had an inspired moment. Either way, the concept could provide an initial answer, or “push” to any dysfunctional equilibrium one might find oneself in. It doesn’t have to be a massive thing, just something that interrupts the loop and stops one repeating the same cycle over, and over again.

Especially as the quote, apprently misattributed to Einsten says,

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”**

Wow, this has been a quote heavy post! Hope you manage to glean something from it. Peace. Oooo, and I finished my assignment!

*I actually wrote this post on Saturday night, but thought it was a bit too… suttin for Sunday, so scheduled it for today instead.

**According to Business Insider, Rita Mae Brown (author), was the originator of this quote. – in the article, scroll down to no.12.