Friday, September 12, 2014

The value of change

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post and I’m sure my loyal readers (both of you) have been wondering when you would hear from me again. I’ve often heard about writer’s block, but always thought it had to do with not having anything to write about. After a few months of writing this blog, I am now realizing the bigger “problem” is having too many things to write about and not being able to hone in on one idea. I guess I haven’t really been all that great about staying focused in my posts anyway, so I decided to just start typing.

I was recently thinking about the idea from Greek philosophy that says that change is the only constant. If the only constant thing is change, then I wanted to make sure I was making the most out of the changes in my life. Having written a few posts recently about trying to find the good in everything, I decided to look at how I react to change. (Notice how I’m honing in on a specific topic there?) We deal with many different types of change throughout our lives. Some are quite drastic while others often go unnoticed. Many people try to label each change as either a good change or a bad change, but I try to see both sides whenever possible. I’m not sure if it’s advisable to mix the Chinese concept of Yin and Yang (dark/light, good/bad) with the Greek philosophy of change being the only constant, but that’s what I tend to do. (I have also been known to mix ketchup into my mac and cheese, but I’m not sure that’s relevant.)

One of the things I really enjoy about living in Minnesota is the change of seasons. A couple of days ago I was wearing shorts and tonight we’re supposed to get temperatures down near freezing. Following my Yin/Yang concept, I will admit that the cold weather moving in is not what I would classify as a good change, but the beautiful Fall colors that will soon appear are classified as a good change. Of course, it is easy to impress me in this arena since I grew up in Texas where there are only three seasons (summer, summer part 2, and ice storms). Winter snowfalls in Minnesota create a lot of work when you have to shovel snow, but it also brings a lot of fun when building a snowman with my girls. Spring may bring a lot of rainy days, but those days of rain bring flowers and help the crops grow. Summer brings the heat and the heat means running around in the sprinkler in the back yard. (OK, my girls run around in the sprinkler. I’m just the official water regulation supervisor.) I could go on with balancing good and bad aspects to the change of seasons, but I think you get the idea.

The photo accompanying this post is actually more than just a cheesy play on words. (Full disclosure: I didn’t have a better picture in my files anyway and my previous bad experience with copyright trolls has taught me to only use images that I own. A story I will have to share at another time.) Our financial status is a type of change that we deal with and one that definitely has both good and bad associated with it. Society would have you think that having more money is good and less money is bad. Being rich means you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay the mortgage or put food on your table. Unfortunately, it may also mean you don’t know who your real friends are and might have to deal with everyone wanting a piece of what you have. Being without money, at the very least, creates stress and may have you struggling to put food on the table. Not having money can also teach you to appreciate the truly valuable things in life like your health, family, and friends.

Most of us experience numerous changes in our careers as well. Whether it’s something as simple as a new co-worker in the group or something major like a new job, changes at work have both good and bad aspects. A new co-worker might mean days or weeks of picking up the slack while they transition into a new position and learn a role, but it might also mean a new friend and/or lightened workload for you. Being promoted or changing jobs can be scary and might make you feel incompetent at first, but it can also add excitement and new possibilities to your career.

The most recent change we’ve been going through in our house is our five year olds’ (going on fifteen) constantly changing attitude. There is no middle ground. One minute she’s laughing and having a grand old time. The next minute she’s kicking, screaming, and throwing something across the living room. During the bright, shining daughter moments it’s easy to see the good. We get to enjoy spending family time together and see how well she is developing as a smart, fun girl. The darker moments are not fun for anyone, but there is a plus side….believe it or not. Without the bad end of the changing attitude spectrum, it would be easy to take the good end of the spectrum for granted.

I’m going to close this post out with a change that I saw on September 11, 2001. The horrific terrorist attacks on that day are about as extreme an example as you can get for trying to find the good in everything. While thousands died during the attacks, there was actually a glimmer of hope in the change of attitude for many of us. I lived in Dallas, TX, at the time and although Texans are known for having a friendly attitude, interaction between strangers in public was usually limited to a smile and a “howdy”. As the events unfolded that day in 2001, I immediately noticed how strangers were talking with each other with a rekindled sense of community. Suddenly, we weren’t just a bunch of individuals running around going through the motions of our day to day life. We were now a group with shared feelings and emotions.

Think about all the changes life throws you each day. Think about how it makes you feel initially. Watch how that change ultimately affects you and your day. Then, after the change has made its impact on your life, see if it had the good and/or bad affect that you initially thought it would. You might be surprised about how the various aspects of each change truly affect your life. Until next time….