The art of paradoxical life – table of contents

Prologue: from extremist to switcher
Personal introduction on why I’m passionate about this theme.

Summary of the governing thought of the book.

Part 1. The problems of the ‘either/or’-approach

1. A world full of polarities
Introduction to what polarities are, what their effects are, how they influence our lives and how and why opposite poles are interlinked.

2. In balance and out of balance
Different strategies to deal with opposite poles have a clear impact on how the balance is kept and how smooth or bumpy they interact/alternate.

3. The curse of ‘either/or’-thinking
What are the consequences of ‘either/or’-thinking? What happens if we nurture one pole and neglect/suppress the opposite pole? What happens if we put both poles in neatly separated ‘boxes’.

4. ‘Either/or’-thinking and the problems of our time
How are the most important and imminent problems or our time directly caused by an unbalanced approach of polarities.

Part 2. Towards ‘both/and’-thinking

5. Two pickets and a rope
Introduction of the model how to switch smoothly between opposite poles. The different positions that one can take in this model are explored:  being in either of the extremes, making a compromise in the middle, finding a new combination where both poles can flourish.

6. The art of switching
Exploring some fundamental principles, techniques and methods of working with polarities.

7. From single to double
How do we connect to a pole for which we don’t feel any affinity or even aversion, and experience its positive side?  

8. Enjoying the extremes (‘nothing in moderation, everything in excess’)
Living the extremes as a starting point for finding a good balance.

9. Oysters with kiwi fruit. When opposites come together
How to combine and mix opposite poles into something completely new?

10. From ‘us and them’ to diversity
How does polarisation work in (interpersonal, inter-organisational) relationships and how can we deal with it in an effective way? How can we make diversity really work?

11. How to stay authentic in a one dimensional world?
How to give all the different and conflicting aspects of ourselves sufficient space and keep our internal diversity in an environment that forces us to choose and to comply to one dimensional values. 

Part 3: The implications for our daily life
(Part 3 = What does the ‘both-and’-approach mean for our daily practice and our conception of identity, change, sustainability, ethics, happiness, education, politics, sexuality and religion?

12. Beyond identity
From a single to a double, to a multiple, to a fluid identity. The neutral observer: we are broader than the polarities that apparently make us what we are.

13. Change and agility
Another (more inclusive) view on change: not only welcoming ‘the new’, but also recognizing the merits of ‘the old’. Agility: how can we quickly change without having the feeling of losing our identity? 

14. Sustainability and the subtle revolution
Paradoxical living as key to a more sustainable lifestyle. How to reconcile unlimited (economic) growth to limited resources and a planet under pressure?  

15. A plea for shamelessness
What does ‘both/and’-thinking mean for our conception of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Does that mean that we need to embrace all opposite values and find everything okay?

16. Trouble in paradise (paradoxical life and happiness)
The stress of being happy and the fundamental right to feel miserable.

17. The art of paradoxical life
9 tips to bring ‘both/and’-thinking into practice, both in daily life and in business.

18. Physical contact and sensuality
Sensuality and physical contact in a contact-restrained but over-sexualized culture.

19. Balancing at work
How do we reconcile performing and playing, professional and private life? How to balance and mix between opposite approaches? How does paradoxical problem solving work? How to switch and combine between tight deadlines and timeless flow? 

20. Profane and belief-free spirituality 
How to reconcile the profane and the spiritual? How can we be both religious and agnostic? 

21. The ‘new man’, the ‘new woman’ and the new relationship
The masculine and the feminine and how to deal with this fundamental polarity in our time. Relationship: blending of freedom and engagement

22. Towards a more balanced world?
Tendencies towards more integration and/or more polarisation in the world today.

Epilogue (Personal reflection)

Afterword by Prof. Dr. Erik Weber (Chairman of the Faculty of Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Ghent University) on how this book is a good example of practical philosophy.

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