“Progress is not possible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
It may not be the most sophisticated way of looking at it (at least, not in the eyes of neuroscience), but describing the infinite capacity of the human brain is perhaps best left to metaphor. “Computer” and “command center” refer to the brain’s capacity for integration and innovation. “Database” refers to the brain’s capacity for storage and retrieval. Likewise, “network” speaks volumes about the brain’s capacity for information sharing. Tech talk aside, one thing’s for sure: As our fast-paced world continues to accelerate into overdrive, our ever-evolving brain must continually “upgrade its operating system”…or, risk becoming “obsolete”.
Luckily, our brain has what it takes to “upgrade”, which it does—every minute of every hour of every day. From social interactions to biotoxic exposures to blunt force trauma, neurobiological research highlights the brain’s ability to deal with the trials and tribulations of life. Like a chameleon, our brain adapts in size, shape, and function to everything we experience—from the bites of food that we eat…to the “bytes of data” that we “process”. When it comes to making the necessary adjustments, we might say that the brain has an incredible capacity to face—and embrace—“whatever comes our way”.
I’m sure you saw the questions coming your way. So…
• When change “comes a knockin’”, are you inclined to open the door…or, run and hide?
• Like an inner ‘tug of war’, do you confidently pull yourself into…or, fearfully push yourself away from change?
• Do you accept change as a ‘constant’…or, do you ‘constant’ly reject it?
Lots of questions, I know. However, there’s a common theme that can’t be ignored: Embracing ‘change’ means embracing the challenge of change.
Throughout my years as a trainer, coach, and mentor, I’ve come to appreciate the “chameleon” in us—that is, our ability to confidently open (and not fearfully ‘slam’) the door when we hear the ‘knock’ of change.
Let’s consider how three “ability-centric” values can transform our perception of change—not as an obstacle to be feared, but as an opportunity to be welcomed.
◦ Are you “open” to change? Or, has your fear of change “shut you down”? As comfort seekers, we naturally tend toward safety and security; as much as we might like the idea of “newness”, we often prefer the comforts of “sameness”. Why? Because “sameness” is another word for “stressless”. Fact: When we step beyond our comfort zone, we avail ourselves to a world of exciting new opportunities to become our best self.
◦ What is your “contribution” to the change dynamic? Positive or negative? When the energy that we bring to the change dynamic is positive, our ability to see the “good” in change inspires us to feel more accountable for our outcomes. And when we internalize a strong sense of accountability for our outcomes, we stop being “opportunity ignorers”…and start becoming “opportunity explorers”.
◦ Are you a change “approacher”…or, a change “avoider”? Can you leverage the load and negotiate the weight of what lies ahead? Do you have what it takes to endure the challenge of change? (Answer: Of course you do!). If we’re rigid and inflexible, change can feel like an exhausting chore. But if we remain open, positive, and adaptable in the face of change, we’re more likely to internalize its awesome power.
Yes, change is—and will forever remain—a fact of life. By embracing a strengths-driven, “abilities-centric” view of our role in the change process, we feel more empowered to thrive in an increasingly complex world. As transformative ideals, availability, accountability, and adaptability contain resilience-boosting potential that promotes mental clarity, emotional balance, and optimal wellbeing. As guiding forces, these values inspire the degrees of creativity, spontaneity, and openness that help us to frame change not as “optional”, but as necessary to our wellbeing. When we begin to feel accountable for, adaptable to, and available to what change has in store for us, only then can we develop a workable relationship with “whatever comes our way”.
And when we do, motivation becomes mindless, effort feels effortless, and the possibilities? They become limitless.
Like a chameleon, it’s no coincidence that the word “change” is lurking within the word “challenge”. See it? Good. It might just change the way you see change.
About the Author: Joshua GARRIN is one of Your Monthly Mentors, an Award-Winning Health Psychologist, Author of “The I-Way to Well”, Personal Trainer, Health Coach, and Self-Motivationalist. He holds a Ph.D. in health psychology, an M.S. in cognitive psychology, and a B.S. in general psychology and journalism and currently resides in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Following the completion of his doctorate in 2014, Joshua was the recipient of Walden University’s Harold L. Hodgkinson Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research for his inquiry on health beliefs, outcome expectancies, and stress appraisal in college seniors. Read More…