Change is good – and messy and challenging

Penelope CruzThere is no option to change, of course, as philosophers – and life itself – keep reminding us.

“All is flux, nothing stays still.” That’s Heraclitus (540 BC – 480 BC). Our lives will change, and we will change despite our at times misguided, fear-based or obsessive intentions to keep the same.

Penélope Cruz acknowledges that despite her increasing fame, she has challenges like everyone else, and adds, “I think we are all here on the same mission – to learn a few things, and remember a few things. Everyone has their own path. We are constantly changing. It is so misunderstood, the concept of change. As if it has to be a bad thing, when in fact it’s completely the opposite.” [Los Angeles Confidential mag., Feb 2007]

But change can get tricky and complex, and very non-linear, as writer Anais Nin noted:

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

Making change involves feelings – being dissatisfied with our current circumstances or addictions, or feeling excited about a new career option, for example – but we can get waylaid by our need to feel only positive moods.

In his article Making It A “Happy” New Year, psychologist Marc F. Kern, Ph.D. comments, “In my experience, the most central feature for successful lifestyle change is to challenge the ‘feel good’ paradox. Specifically, that successful lifestyles must satisfy the same desires that brought about unhealthy lifestyles: it must feel good.”

Aging can bring a new courage and willingness to change, as career counselor Valerie Young notes in her article Are You Settling?: “When you’re younger, I find, you’re more apt to settle. We settle in relationships (‘It’s better than being alone’), we settle for high-stress, low-satisfaction jobs (‘It could be worse’), we settle for all kinds of things that later in life would be simply unacceptable. Now that I’m pushing 50, settling feels entirely, well, uninteresting.”

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