Change is inevitable
Another normal thing
The world is continuously changing with or without your permission and as far as I can tell, it will keep going like that for a long time.
The very idea of change is so ingrained in society nowadays so it feels like we have created cults and paranoia around it that aggressively push the narrative that change is an essential part of our life. This statement might be actually true, but inevitably we promote environments where people with ideas of radical self-development conflict with nihilists and at the same time are judged by people on the journey for ideal life balance.
In the whirlwind of misinformation, social conflicts and continuous search for meaning we drag ourselves to the state of constant overthinking and worry, eventually to build a society of anxious, depressed and fearful crowds, accepting it as existential normal.
I always been in the camp of radical self-development and for years obsessively expanded the limits of my life to make things better — everything, literally, was consumed by the idea of continuous improvement. I voluntarily chose a mentally exhausting way of living that led me to giving up on a lot of things as I couldn’t prevail physically or emotionally. Logically I explored ideas of other camps and concluded that those ways of thought were not long-term solutions. I would have jumped from one extreme to another.
Instead I started to learn about the patterns behind different schools of thought when it came to changing behavior, thought, and experiences. I wanted to understand the fundamental principles of each camp. While exploring different areas of philosophy, psychology, business development, self-help, religion and more, I came to the realization there was only one thing that was going to work for me. A concept I found called micro-change.
Micro-change is every little experience happening in our life on a daily basis that accumulates wisdom with compound effects and builds new patterns of behavior with noticeable personality transformations.
The very ecosystem of change
Before I continue to rumble on the importance of the idea of micro-change and make any suggestions on how to go about it, I want you to imagine how the world is really organized. Think why it might be so difficult to change while everything around is continuously evolving. We need this knowledge to build our own fundamental principles of life. In order to help with that understanding, here is simple representation of the world:
You — a center of your personal universe with ego in the middle that balances decisions, actions and perception of everything.
Society — tyrannically defined entity that helps individuals by building structure, ensure protection, keep things working and holds everyone accountable to follow the rules that are constantly evolving.
Nature — the universal force that exists, expands and evolves creating tremendous pressure on societies and individuals with different environmental conditions, unexpected natural behaviors and looking for opportunities to pressure-test how strong we are against it.
You are surrounded by society and society is surrounded by nature. All three elements are interconnected and make up one ecosystem that always influences one another.
The change within this kind of ecosystem is organized into two categories:
Change that we cannot control at all or only with absolute extreme forces — natural disasters, events of cosmic scale, time, death, other people’s thoughts, social norms and peace.
Change that we can control without too much effort — feelings, emotions, action, our own thoughts, innovation, hunger, body shapes, health and money.
The only way I found to be helpful on how to deal with the first category and not lag behind all the time is to stay curious about the world’s events. It is helpful to be as critically neutral as possible to build your own perspective, unless you are directly involved in changing one of the titanic aspects of the world, for instance space travel.
The second category opens up opportunities to do something special because of its intimate connection to ego, feelings of personal accountability for action and craving for satisfaction from great results.
People who force change too much, especially when they are not mentally ready for it, create an artificial illusion of progress and risk breaking things apart. Really, very few succeed in such an environment and then we see them philanthropically selling motivational courses on the internet on “How to…”
With so many moving parts, the battle for the right state of mind is definitely an uphill task and requires an easy solution. Because we all know, when you try something and it’s hard from the get go there is a high chance we will fail and give up. Micro-change helps make transitions to a new state natural, non-ideological, meaningful and easily adaptable to the reality of the day to day life with 3 dogs, 5 kids, mortgage, yelling boss, no personal life, you name it.
In order to understand the simplicity and value of micro-change, imagine if the following statement could be true for you: “There is no good or bad, just results”. Roughly 17 years ago this realization dramatically shifted the direction of my life. If you can only make a decision on what kind of results you want for yourself and people around you or what to do with results you already got, all of a sudden life becomes clear and simple in so many ways. There is no need anymore to label people and situations with good or bad tags, just outcomes driven critical thinking.
Here are two examples to process the idea of such micro-change:
Imagine that you stepped on someone’s feet while walking on the street. Is that good or bad? Applying the mindset micro-change mentioned above there is no reason to generate any emotion. You are left with a decision about what to do with this result and hopefully move on with your day. You might feel sorry or guilty, but you really shouldn’t as you didn’t do it on purpose, hence labeling yourself or the situation as bad wouldn’t make any difference for the outcome, only making it socially awkward for both of you.
Imagine that you have received an annual bonus with a sweet paycheck which you can use to buy things for your family or finally close that debt that bothered you for a while. Is that good or bad? Here is where things really become tricky, because attaching positive emotion is much more pleasant and feels natural. Probably, you celebrate for a little, it makes you smile for a few days and then all of a sudden emotions disappear really fast, especially when it comes to money. That is exactly the reason why getting a bonus is neither good nor bad, because your brain is outcome driven — so it is trying to focus you in the right direction. Getting paid extra is an outcome of your hard work, hence the potential results you are looking for are actually different. Would you like this kind of payment on a regular basis, monthly rather than annual? What is that you need to do in order to make it happen? That is a different perspective, isn’t it? That is the impact of micro-change shifting your mindset from the concept of good or bad to result and outcomes.
Micro-changes of this kind are applicable to almost anything you can think of.
Easy guidelines for NOW
Micro-change can only be successful with personal approach, so it is going to be a unique journey with steps that only one person can come up with — you. In order to make it even easier — here is set of principles that helped me and hopefully can make your transformation smooth:
Build personal life mission and revisit it annually to know WHY to change
Do one micro-change at time and try to reach excellence with it
Do not ever force anything even if there is a social pressure
Once you reach your first success with micro-changes let life decide HOW to go about it
Build simple routines to think about next micro-change regularly, it needs time to cook in your mind to then ignite WHAT to do at the right moment
Self-development is not a scam, but be critical about all the gurus around
Inaction is as powerful as action when chosen wisely — learn when to say No
Accept the inevitable with calmness of the mind and soul
Overthink a little bit to have some control in your life, but learn to be an observer first
Reborn like a phoenix
Micro-changes may or may not be your thing, but sometimes people need to burn to ashes like a phoenix before being reborn anew.
For some it will be a dramatic transformation story with life changing experiences. For most it will look like a simple, sudden realization that hits you in the most unexpected situation; like walking on the street with a cone of an ice cream, just a glimpse of thought that you are different now. Catch those moments, celebrate and recognize your new personality that evolved to a different, hopefully, better version of you.
Change is inevitable…
(c) Artem Gonchakov