If you want to change…

An old work colleague use to say to me “If you want changes in your life, you’ve got to make changes in your life.” Seems really pithy, but it is most certainly true. If you don’t make the changes, then the changes that do occur are external random happen-stance. More to the point, the changes aren’t the ones you are making – they are ones you are surviving.

There are few constants in this universe. One of the main ones is change. You cannot hold onto something unchanging. What we thought of as right generations ago is no longer right, what we considered wrong is no longer wrong. The lump of metal we use as our baseline for weight is different now to when it was made. Everything changes (with the exception of purely mathematical abstractions, of course).

There are three things you can do in the face of change.

1) Resist it

2) Adapt to it

3) Guide it

Of course the world isn’t as finite as a three compartmentalised choices, it is a smattering of different components of these options. However for the sake of exploring this concept, let us examine these three things.

“Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated” quoth The Borg (Star Trek). This is certainly true of this universe when it comes to you verses change. That certainly doesn’t stop us from trying. We frequently resist change, trying to keep metal polished and non-corroded, trimming hedges, trying to hold on to love, keeping ideals fixed, hating people, staying employed to the one company, keeping that company doing the same thing and so on. Yet the more we hold on to the old and resist what is coming the more energy we loose to maintaining the pretend stagnation and the larger the cost the change will extract on us later.

We humans will hold onto the past ideas that we have large emotional attachment to the strongest. It is easiest to accept change for those ideas that we have little regard. Knowing this, we can anticipate the difficulty of letting go and accepting the new version of things based on how we feel about them. Yet if we feel nothing for anything we also have no value for this world and will feel lost and dispossessed. Nothing will have meaning.

Adapting to change is recognising that change has occurred and seeking to use that change for advantage. There are pros and cons in everything. If we use the pros and correct for the cons then our lives will evolve in a positive direction. Sometimes we will recognise that a temporary cost needs to be paid for a long term benefit. As with the above resistance, it is easier to adapt to things we have no emotional investment in, and hardest to do with those that we do.

Both of the previous solutions – resistance and adaptation – are ways of coping when change is thrust upon us. The universe is big, but the world we live in is relatively small. Even so, we don’t control anything beyond the reach of your outermost physical reach. We can affect things by what we do, but we can’t control them.

We can control ourselves.

There are four aspects to our self control. Spiritual, psychological, social and biological. Please note that spiritual is more about personal philosophy than it is about spirits. Of course spirits and gods may be part of your personal philosophy. I have written about these in the past (http://musings.jomida.com/2013/08/05/medication-not-evil/).

By changing ourselves, we can influence the environment around us, directly influencing the path that our lives goes down. We cannot control our future to the point of pre-destination, but we can choose the direction that our path goes. Consider this case: I want something from someone – If I don’t ask, I am reliant upon them randomly giving me the item – this is a very low probability. If I ask them, while they may say no, their odds of saying yes are dramatically higher. There are various ways of asking, each with an increasing likelihood of obtaining the desired outcome you wish, but nothing is guaranteed. If I ask a pauper for a million dollars, it doesn’t matter how I ask, they still can’t give it to me.

So how we change ourselves influences our environment, encouraging the direction we prefer our lives to go in. This is kind of like being on a log in a river. If we just hold on, we go where the water takes us. If we paddle with our hands, we direct the log. If we grab a branch and use that as a pole, we have even more say.

The only thing we can count on is change. We can passively respond to it by resistance and adaptation, or we can actively guide it through changing ourselves.