"Progress is impossible without change, and those who
cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
- George Bernard Shaw
Creatures of Comfort
Change often has a negative connotation for many people, especially when we have no choice. We are creatures of comfort and we automatically seek out what feels good in the moment. We long for comfort and this usually comes from that which we know; that which is familiar to us. Our minds and nervous systems are designed to find and attach meaning to everything. Something new can feel stressful, even scary.
Comfort in Patterns
Your mind and your nervous system has to understand and adapt to the unknown and this process feels uncomfortable on many levels. Our nervous system works primarily by conditioning and by repetition we notice consistency and assume patterns. This system is really there to serve us in helping us being more efficient and to be able to do more, with less effort. Your mind is designed to always look for the best way. Through repetition we learn certain orders and sequences in which things happen and we learn to recognize and respond according to these sequences. We feel more and more confident when we are familiar with something.
Recognize the Patterns
Simply be aware of the fact that there is a part of you that responds and acts based on your past experiences and associations. The challenge is to go from one pattern, one that does not serve you anymore, to one which will serve you more. Adapting to change, whether at work or at home will feel uncomfortable at first, but rest assured that the uncomfortable will become comfortable as you form new associations and new patterns of association.
Change is Inescapable
Remember that old saying: "If you can't beat them, join them"? All of life is constantly in a process of change. Nothing stays the same. It's the nature of all of life, including you. Even if you do nothing, life will still change. It's tempting to resist the change and hold onto what we know, but doing that often leaves us stressed and unhappy. What if instead, you make the choice to initiate changes and embrace new things?
Change is Growth
The process of making the uncomfortable comfortable is the way we grow as human beings. As you become comfortable with new things, they become part of your comfort zone. Expanding this zone expands yourself as a person. The need to grow and develop is a need that all humans have. Without growth it is difficult to be happy for any length of time. Although it feels uncomfortable in the moment, personal and professional growth feel fulfilling in the long term and make us feel good in a more lasting way. It creates a sense of pride in yourself.
Change How You Think to Change How You Feel
All change starts with a change of mind. You have to start by changing your thoughts about the change. Find a more positive way to look at an upcoming change. In changing the way you think about something you immediately change your perception and consequently the way you feel about it. When you change the way you feel you change your behavior and that's how you progress. Thoughts lead to feelings, and feelings lead to behavior. Trying to change behavior without first addressing your thoughts and feelings will rarely create lasting change.
So remember this simple secret...change your thoughts and the rest will follow!
I share a lot of tips on how to change your thoughts in my book 21 Days to Happiness. I hope you find them useful.
Ms. Ingrid Kelada is an experienced psychologist and happiness expert in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She is a speaker and has facilitated over 1000 workshops all over the world.
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