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  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference is a book by Malcolm Gladwell,
    first published by Little Brown in 2000. Gladwell defines a tipping point as "the moment of critical mass,
    the threshold, the boiling point." The book seeks to explain and describe the "mysterious" sociological
    changes that mark everyday life.
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    A tipping point is a moment when everything shifts, undergoes systemic change. There are tipping points all around us, in politics, in physics, in commerce. And there are also personal tipping points, moments of breakdown and breakthrough, moments when you pass an invisible border, and know that nothing is going to be quite the same again.
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    It can take time to build up to a tipping point. Maybe there is low level, ongoing stress, and suddenly you just cannot take it anymore and must act or speak up. Maybe there is unacceptable and harmful behavior which brings an outburst of protest that can no longer be held back. Maybe there is a situation which is just wearing everyone down, and it becomes evident that something different must be done.
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    Tipping points can shift a paradigm, demand a new direction, or signal a critical opportunity to make positive changes.
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    It is helpful to develop skills in identifying potential tipping points, because this can modify the shock of sudden change.
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    In a relationship, for example, are you sensitive to signals which your partner is sending you, and may have been sending you for some time? Are you tuned in to tone of voice, body language, and behavior so that you can sense when things are building to a crisis?
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    I find that tipping points in my life can be signaled by anxiety, frustration, anger, even illness or pain, and a feeling that something must change, that the current state of things is no longer working. Instead of being dismayed by these feelings, I am learning to look at them as indicators that adjustments must be made, truths must be told, and solutions to the irritants must be found.
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    Ideally, a tipping point can be anticipated and used as a catalyst for positive change, before the perturbation in a system or relationship spins out of control.
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    * Intuition and careful monitoring of one’s environment can spot emerging tipping points, and use them creatively.
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    So, then, any tipping points going on in your life today? What do they feel like? How are you responding to them?
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    Kabir writes:
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    When the Day came –
    The Day I had lived and died for –
    The Day that is not in any calendar –
    Clouds heavy with love
    Showered me with wild abundance.
    Inside me, my soul was drenched.
    Around me, even the desert grew green.
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    (Photograph by Alex from the "Walk in the Woods" Series)
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