So here's the first in a series on Change and why it is so damn hard!
Hope you enjoy!
The distant rumbling snaps me out of some pretty deep thoughts and I am suddenly seized with a feeling of familiar dread that I have become so accustomed to lately. It’s almost 9 am on a Tuesday morning and that can only mean one thing: It’s recycling day and once again, I have been derelict in my duty as the designated “Recyclable Waste Transportation Officer” for our particular residence (a position I am always quick to point out that I neither campaigned for nor particularly desired, but is mine nonetheless). For reasons I have yet to discover, this is the one aspect of my domestic transformation with which I continue to struggle. Experience has taught me that based on the volume of the truck and the colloquy of the neighborhood dogs, if I go now, I can still make it with at least a good minute to spare. So naturally, with all that time extra time to spare, my thoughts drift back to my previous contemplations (or what my lovely Bride-to-Be would call procrastinations) on the topic of change, or more importantly, lasting change.
Most men and women go through their lives using no more than a fraction—usually a rather small fraction—of the potentialities within them. The reservoir of unused human talent and energy is vast, and learning to tap that reservoir more effectively is one of the exciting tasks ahead for any of us. More often than not, we find that real change occurs not through addition, but subtraction. Simply put, lasting change isn’t just about the introduction of new information, but it must involve an actual transformation of how we interpret that information. We have to transform the way we think, the way we feel, and most importantly, the way we behave. The bottom line is that there in so real trick to achieving a lasting change, it really is quite simple once you understand the mechanics behind it all and realize that it can’t come through sheer force of will. Epiphanies, resolutions, & promises of change alone aren’t enough, lasting change can only be achieved through re-training the way we think in order to increase the repertoire of available thoughts. We have to realize we’re going to feel uncomfortable because lasting change requires a different kind of effort; an effort of application, trying new things, experimenting with new behaviors, asking new (and often difficult) questions about ourselves and our lives. The key is to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable, because as recent research has shown, the best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile, and that is when real growth occurs. (The dogs next door are starting to bark; I really need to get downstairs now if I’m ever going to make it.)
So what does that look like in practice? When seeking to make a lasting change, we must not only understand the process and anatomy of change, but we must also search within ourselves for the ineffective thoughts that keep us from realizing our true potential, the emotional barriers that prevent us from enjoying the successes we achieve, and of course the self-defeating behaviors that undermine our attempts at lasting change and sabotage our chances to be truly happy. Once we become aware of our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions we can began the methodical work of transforming ourselves so that we can uncover our true potential and realize lasting change. In next month’s issue of Northeast Neighbor, we’ll spend some time discussing the process and anatomy of change and why we need to quite literally transform the structures of our brain if we really want to keep the changes we a trying to make. Now, you’ll have to excuse me, I’m pretty sure I just saw the recycling truck drive by my house once again. Oh well, I’ll get him next week.