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Did you know that you were Non Zero?
July 23, 2012

Zero and non Zero sum games come from the work of mathematicians (including John Nash of A Brilliant Mind) of maybe 50 years ago.

My point is that the extent that we see our own situation and that of the society we live in as Non Zero sum (rather than Zero sum), then the happier and more productive and engaged we will be. We either see a situation where if one person or group win or gain then we and our group loses - or that everyone gains. That there is a fixed amount of whatever it is and you (as an individual or part of a group) will either be winner or a loser or that the amount of stuff is expandable.

A Zero sum mentality is toxic of course in anything other than specific game type situations. I have always felt that that is why so many divorce settlements are so devastating for the parties involved. For this is the archetype Zero sum situation - there is a fixed amount of assets to be distributed and if you don’t get your fair share then bloody hell he/she will.

The good news is that pretty well all situations can be seen as Non Zero situations where co-operation between individuals or groups or societies means that we are all better off – whether we are talking of material or non material considerations.

This idea lies at the heart of a very good book by Robert Wright which is now some twelve years old. Robert Wright is a scientist and a historian of societies over the millennia and he understands and explains our advance (for surely that is what it has been over this long period) as having been fuelled by an ever developing instinct for co-operation in order that we can evolve to ever developing Non-Zero sum worlds.

More next week

best wishes

Andrew Richardson
Feelbetter Counselling East London

94 Malford Grove, London E18 2DQ

Direct Line: 0208 257 0429 Mobile: 07870 104651 Skype: famrichhg

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