Cheap Change in Whatever Color You Choose

Change is not as difficult as many people make it out to be. When the pain or cost associated with the choice to remain static is more than what it would be to change, change ensues. There’s probably a law that describes this concept scientifically. Maybe it’s the Law of Inertia or some other law, but it doesn’t matter much what it’s called. The most important thing to know is that change can be painful and expensive, but it’s more cost effective and pain relieving than staying the same in all possible respects, at least in perception if not in material reality.

It’s in vogue to pursue changing one’s life. It is, after all, January. Aside of the fact that change fuels several multi-billion dollar industries which stands to serve as significant evidence that people generally find some current life situation less desirable than what appears to be possible on TV, in news media, or by the accounts of those in their social circles, the empty pursuit of positive life change has become the gold standard of staying the same. On this, I’ve been contemplating my position on the pursuit of change insofar as it means altering my behaviors, especially the seemingly insignificant ones.

Tiny changes aggregate well. Recently, I began getting up about an hour earlier each morning. Over the course of a year, one additional hour of consciousness each day will result in the equivalent of two full weeks of 24-hour days to allocate however I choose. Another example:  I spend about two hours each week catching up with a friend. In aggregate, that amounts to over 100 hours each year of relationship building time with people who are important to me. Over Sunday brunch, café con leche, or telephone lines, the time I spend with friends is deeply valuable and impacts people I care about (including myself!) in a positive way. Small, consistently repeated changes are more digestible, practical, and sustainable than drastic lifestyle alterations which commonly result in a nagging sense of perpetual failure and antithetical results.

Change is a topic which generally consumes more than its fair share of attention, in my view. There are more articles, books, and self-help programs centered on change than any normal person can comprehend. So, then, why do people rarely transform their lives? The answer is simple: People who don’t identify with, and fully adopt, their reasons for choosing change cannot articulate to themselves the value of salvaged pain or other forms of cost such that their resulting choices and behaviors to stay the same actually make rational sense. In short: The price of staying the same isn’t high enough in comparison to the cost of choosing and executing change. It’s a mind thing, not a will power thing or a passion thing. Your mind manages your life; the mind is imminently rational, even when calculating flawed data.

Here are some questions which you may find helpful as you contemplate causing change in your life:

  1. If Power = Work (or Effort)/Time, then how can I change the amount of time it takes to do [fill in the blank] so that I am a more powerful person or, at least, my time is more powerfully efficient? How can I adjust, even if only slightly, the amount of effort expended to increase my power quotient?
  2. If the human brain weighs 2% of a person’s body weight and receives up to 20% of the body’s total oxygen consumption as well as 25% of glucose intake, it seems to reason that simply breathing more feeds the brain and thinking burns through sugar like voracious wildfire on dry pine needles. Might change become systemically more feasible if one did nothing more than feed his/her brain with oxygen, conversation, and thoughtful contemplation? In short, consider flexing the brain; it’s far more powerful than flexing biceps and quads.
  3. If a person is truly discontent, what could possibly stop him/her from the pursuit of adjustments and alterations to basic behaviors and choices? Is there not sufficient data which proves the power of authentic, recognized discontent? Consider the thing you’d like to change. What’s it costing you? When will the price become too high? How much are you willing to invest in preserving things as they currently exist?
  4. Is it possible for a wonderful life to improve?

Recently, I brewed a pot of coffee for my brother and I to enjoy while he contemplated the best way to fix a problem in the mediums of leather and thread. I set out my nail polish and started with the base coat. He watched, we talked, I laughed at his quick-wit while waving my arms around in the air to dry the polish as I’ve done my entire nail-polish wearing life. It wasn’t too long before he inquired about why I was flapping my arms around in the kitchen, paws spread far out.

“The worst part about polishing my nails is the time it takes to dry them,” I informed him. He offered me super fast-drying lacquer which is likely an illegal substance in light of lead-based paint regulations, offering full disclosure that while it would dry in merely seconds, I could end up with central nervous system malfunction or just plain become stupid. Then he looked at me quizzically and asked if I wanted the heat gun, offering that “it’s right there in the garage.”  Heat gun?! These nails are attached to my HANDS!

We laughed…and he pointed to the space heater that runs all winter in my living room. “Warm ’em up, Brig’! Then run your fingers under really cold water. That paint will get exactly as tacky as it needs to be for the clear to dig in. It’ll wear longer and won’t bubble up if you clear it when it’s barely tacky.” But of course, why didn’t I think of that? I’ve only been polishing my nails since I was nine years old. “Super slick,” he added nonchalantly while he fiddled with the stubborn leather motorcycle accoutrement in his hands.

As it turns out, I went to bed last night without the worry of sheet impressions in my slow drying nails and I woke up with “super slick” pale pink nails. I spent time with my brother, the painter, laughing, listening, learning, and became a power house nail polish drying machine, saving me time and frustration. What a joy! Change is the fruit of knowledge, the result of listening and learning. It’s wisdom adopted, rational and sensible.

Change is relatively easy. Your mind is the stubborn ass that will kick you hard if you stand behind it for too long.



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