Sunday, May 8, 2011

Spare some change?

“Change is the essence of life.Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.”
-Mahatma Ghandi

The word 'change' frightens many people. Maybe it's because of its connection to the word 'chaos', maybe it's because of humanity's innate fear of the unknown. Let's be honest here, we're all afraid that one day, we'll wake up and our life as we know it will be turned on its head. People naturally prefer the safety and comfort of what they know over the vast, deep, dark unknown.

Here's an interesting fact about change, though: add the word 'life' as a prefix, and suddenly it becomes much less terrifying. This simple word, once synonomous with chaos and unpredictability, becomes synonomous with growth and personal development. If stagnation is the greatest enemy of mankind, most of us seek that one experience in life that 'throws open the doors' so to speak. Call it what you will: enlightenment, a personal connection to God, the love of your friends and family, or simply the realization that maybe, just maybe, you don't have it as bad as you think. It all boils down to this: we all seek that one pivotal life-changing moment.

Change may be associated with chaos, but do you know what it's also associated with? Growth. Development. Every invention of mankind started with someone looking at the world around him and wanting to improve it. Every major philosophy, every major religion, began when someone chose to shake off the bonds of stagnation and take a single step into the aforementioned deep, dark unknown. To take it to a more personal level, look at your life. I guarantee that every major accomplishment you have ever made was due to your desire to change, to grow and to further develop yourself.

Here's another interesting fact of change, and one that is best illustrated by a simple quote:

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

This quote, taken from Shakespeare's Hamlet, has always stayed in my mind. No matter how disastrous an event may seem, there is always, always, always something to learn from it. Even in the midst of chaos, even in the darkest moment of your life, change is still pushing us to learn, grow and improve ourselves. This bears repeating in bright red, italicized text: there is always something to learn from every situation!

As a matter of fact, I recently had this conversation with my sister. To test this belief, she threw a number of increasingly disastrous, dark events at me. Maybe it's due to my annoyingly optimistic outlook on life, but I was able to find a silver lining in each and every event. As chaotic as the world may be at times, it's my firm belief that there is always a lesson to be learned.

To illustrate this point, I'll share a fairly recent event in my life, as well as the lessons I learned from this particular change:

In December of last year, shortly after Christmas, I found myself pulled into the manager's office at work. This in and of itself wasn't all too surprising: I am at heart a rather lazy and easily distracted person, and have difficulty applying myself to a task for more than a few hours. (As a quick aside, this is why I'm not as prolific an author here as, say, Misu. Also, she's more interesting than I am, but I digress.)

Despite this aspect of my personality making me less than popular with my bosses, I had always seen myself as an indispensable part of my job. As it turns out, this was not so, and I quickly found myself without a job. Life lesson learned: rein in your ego, you are never as indispensable as you think.

What made this situation worse was that I was less than $300 from paying off my car. I had always taken great pride in my vehicle, and saw it as my first move towards true independence and a major accomplishment in my life. Now here I was, without a job and facing the fact that I may lose my car. Thankfully, a friend came through for me and loaned me the $300. Life lesson learned: there are some people who will be there for you, no matter what. Appreciate these people.

To make a long story short, I was without a job for almost a month. Despite my inherent laziness, I do not enjoy being unemployed. Although I grew desperate over this month, an opportunity for employment finally fell into my lap. While it may not be the best or highest-paying job in the world, it's still a job. It puts food in my stomach, gas in my car, and occasionally allows me to enjoy an alcoholic beverage and some horrible karaoke with friends. Special life lesson two-for-one: it could always be worse, and, given time, it gets better.

I'm sure you can think of more profound examples in your life. I can most certainly think of more profound examples in mine. I just chose this one as a simple, fairly recent example that I could illustrate with my own special brand of annoying humor.

The fact of the matter is this: for every door that slams in your face, countless others open. Don't be afraid to step through those doors, and don't fear the changes in your life. Accept them as they come, make the most of them, learn from them. Take a lesson from every event, every change, in your life and never stop growing.

Isn't that what life's all about?

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