“He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.”
“Don’t let your special character and values, the secrets that you know and no one else does, the truth-don’t let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency.”-Aesop
“The great tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.”-Benjamin E. Mays
Change is the only constant in life. A smart man named Heraclitus said something quite similar to that quite a long time ago. “There is nothing permanent, except change.” Things have changed a bit since then (see what I did there? ;). But the truth remains, almost everything is changing, all around us, constantly. It’s easy to notice this with the change of seasons (unless you live along the Equator where the seasons are pretty much the same and you might not have a concept of what I am talking about). As time passes everything on this Earth is transforming. The grass you stand on today is not the same grass you stood on last year. The air you are breathing today is different than what you breathed yesterday. I hope what you are having for lunch is different than what you’ve had every day for the past few months…You are not who you were last year, let alone 30 years ago. So don’t let your past define your future. You couldn’t really do that even if you tried.
Living off your accomplishments from the past may get you a bit ahead in the here and now, but not for very long. And hiding who you can become due to some mistakes you might have made in the past is just as idiotic and worthless. Pride and Regret are the parents of lethargy. (I don’t think anyone wants to name their kid “Lethargy,” not even Shannyn Sossamon who named her child “Audio Science”). If you want to have a pulse, you are going to need to accept that change is happening, and it’s happening at this very moment. Take your amazing body for example (sounds like the title to a strange book about puberty, but that is not what I am going to go into here).
Red blood cells have about a 4 month lifespan, the cells that line your trachea live for about 1-2 months, the lining of the small intestine; 2-4 days, the lining of the stomach 2-9 days, your fat cells…8 years (I know I was hoping we could kill those guys off a bit quicker). All these cells inside your body are constantly changing, reforming, changing, and on and on. One other interesting thing about this short list you just read… the more possible “trauma” to the cells, usually the faster the turnaround, the faster the growth. Isn’t that interesting…?
Growth is necessary for survival. If we aren’t expanding our horizons, we are slowly dying. Growth happens quicker the more trauma we feel, the more we experience challenges. So don’t shy away from the opportunities to grow. Challenges are usually doors to a brighter future. I’m not saying go “traumatize” yourself on purpose… Diving head first, after nailing a “Triply Lundy”, into a pool without water will definitely cause some challenges, but not the kind I am thinking of. I am saying the true masterminds, the successes, the high performers in life have learned to look for the opportunity hidden inside the challenges. They don’t just “roll with the punches” of change, they use those punches to propel them into something greater.
If you are willing to accept from the evidence previously presented (just re-read a couple paragraphs higher on the page if you have a short-term memory deficit), that change is always happening, then you must realize that these changes can be perceived as positive or negative. We are going to experience troubles and exhilaration our lives, that is the plain and simple truth. When the victories come, celebrate and plan on the next one. When the knock downs happen, don’t let them keep you there. Realize that (again previous evidence) within these traumas lie the opportunity to grow ourselves at an even faster rate. We learn more from episodes we view as losses than we do from the wins. So when you are getting your butt kicked in life, take a moment to just think: “OK, so this is crappy. But I know from the science of intestinal cells turnover that I will grow from this experience, and in fact quicker than I would have had I not gone through this crapstorm.” So, what are you going to learn from this change? How can you let this experience propel you more toward the person you want to be?”
On the other side of the “what’s going on in your life” coin-things could be fantastic. I truly hope things are the best they have ever been in your life. Truly I do. But it’s only my job to tell you this… things won’t always be that way. I’m not saying eventually the other shoe will drop (I never really understood the significance of that phrase… why in the hell would anyone be fearful of another shoe falling, and why do they have only one shoe, and why would the other one fall from the sky eventually?), what I am saying is that things will indeed change. No matter where things are right now, it is an absolute certainty that they won’t always be that way. They may be better, they may be worse, but they won’t just BE. Complacency guarantees a down-hill slide. Always playing it safe is the exact same as not playing at all. Complacency breeds boredom. Boredom is the complete opposite of living an inspired life.
Complacency kills. Lou Holtz, former Notre Dame, and widely successful, football coach has been quoted in saying “If what you did yesterday seems big, you haven’t done anything today.” Due to the inarguable certainty that things change, we cannot sit back on past accomplishments. By the very nature of nature itself, unless we are progressing, we are failing. I’m not saying that we need to stockpile successes after successes (that isn’t the way the world works either), but if we are sedentary in our aims, if we rest for too long, if we don’t accept that we need to change along with the world, we will effectively go absolutely no-where, and our trophies that we have earned up until this moment will look great in our cabinet sure; but they will wither, and become relics and rust. Don’t give up, even if you think you’ve “made it.” There really isn’t a difference between the person who never begins and the person who sits back on their past successes; both people are still just sitting on the couch.
Learn. Explore. Try. Experiment. Veer. Attempt. Dabble, break habits…and form new ones. You might just like the person you become even more than who you were…
“When you look at yourself, tell me who do you see- the person you’ve been or the person you’re going to be.”-Greg Holden (Hold on Tight-great song).