Fear and Change

Today I experienced what it looks like to deal with people who are seriously change-averse. I gathered a few quotations about change and fear that I would have loved to share with some of these people but could not. So, I’m sharing them here along with some of my own insights about change and fear.

He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery. ~Harold Wilson

It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory. ~W. Edwards Deming

Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.  ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

Anything I’ve ever done that ultimately was worthwhile… initially scared me to death.  ~Betty Bender

I have accepted fear as a part of life – specifically the fear of change…. I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says:  turn back.  ~Erica Jong

Whatever course you decide upon,
there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.
There are always difficulties arising
which tempt you to believe that your critics are right.
To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. ~Maya Angelou

There are so many more but these are just a few of the ones that resonate for me.

I learned a few years back at The Option Institute to think in terms of stimulus-belief-response. That is the notion that rather than being creatures of stimulus-response — something happens and we respond to it instinctively — we are creatures of stimulus-belief-response — something happens, we choose a belief to assign to it, and we react accordingly. The belief itself is a choice. We know this is true because two people can respond to the exact stimulus in completely differently.

Example: Tonight we took our kids out to Rita’s for water ice. While in line at the drive-through, we ran out of gas (stimulus). I would guess that most people would be upset, stomp around, get flustered about how to handle it, and feel genuinely miserable. We had no cell phones with us and no gas can. Our response, however, was to gather up our kids and walk to the nearest gas station, about a mile up the road. It was warm out, but much more pleasant than it had been for the past week or so, and it wasn’t quite dark. We really enjoyed our walk and our family time, we bought a small gas can and a gallon of gas, walked back, fueled the car and drove off to fill up. Our kids will remember it as a fun evening complete with water ice, a nice walk, and a little story to tell. Can you guess what our belief was? It certainly wasn’t that our evening was ruined over something like an empty gas tank! No fear, no worry about changing our plans, simply a plan of action and a choice to enjoy it.

Happiness Resolution #5: Complain Less

This goes along with gratitude, but with a slightly different angle. Complaining less means making room for focusing on what is good.

Two thoughts for today from the existential experts:

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
— George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) Irish playwright and critic

“If you have not slept, or if you have slept, or if you have headache, or sciatica, or leprosy, or thunder-stroke, I beseech you by all angels to hold your peace, and not pollute the morning… Love the day.” —
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) American writer and activist

Access to Technology leads to Happiness? Yes!

Connect and RejoiceThis BBC article shares results of a study indicating that “There are positive links between access to technology andfeelings of well-being, a study claims.” The findings further show this effect is more strongly linked with gender and income than with age. Women and lower income people of both genders seem to experience the most emotional benefit from access to technology, possibly because it provides opportunity to connect socially where otherwise people would be constrained by their family role or social rank. Another hypothesis is that the access to technology or ownership of devices is a status symbol.

The findings seem to contradict the concern growing in the media that technology disconnects us from real relationships, from true communication, and from genuine connection with other humans. Especially among the young, people send more texts than phone calls. In fact, just today the New York Times published this article explaining that “although almost 90 percent of households in the United States now have a cellphone, the growth in voice minutes used by consumers has stagnated, according to government and industry data.” Well, true, but phone calls are interruptive and time-consuming. As a confirmed introvert I can tell you that talking on the phone is one of my least favorite pastimes (and retrieving voice mails is high up on that list as well). I connect well online – on Facebook, by email, via text messages – and probably much more than I would have otherwise connected with friends from the past or new friends where a relationship is just building. So it makes perfect sense to me that technology facilitates happiness for people who would otherwise be isolated or inclined to turn inward rather than connect in an extroverted manner.

Psychologically we know that people who connect with others, who maintain significant relationships over time, who have genuine communities of people who share interests, ideas, concerns and emotions are happier over the long run than those who do not. The mechanism by which they do this seems unimportant to me. Pony express, coffee house, telephone, text, social media… pick your channel and reach out. You’ll be happier for it.

Tarot Card Wisdom: Playfulness

PlayfulnessA friend of mine at work today sent me a link to the Osho Zen Tarot site as a fun distraction.  So I thought, what the heck, and pulled a card. I guess it’s possible that no matter what card I pulled I could have extracted some meaning. I’ve been down lately and this particular card was a phenomenal reminder to take life – and myself – a little less seriously.


The moment you start seeing life as non-serious, a playfulness, all the burden on your heart disappears. All the fear of death, of life, of love – everything disappears. One starts living with a very light weight or almost no weight. So weightless one becomes, one can fly in the open sky.

Zen’s greatest contribution is to give you an alternative to the serious man. The serious man has made the world, the serious man has made all the religions. He has created all the philosophies, all the cultures, all the moralities; everything that exists around you is a creation of the serious man. Zen has dropped out of the serious world. It has created a world of its own which is very playful, full of laughter, where even great masters behave like children.

Osho Nansen: The Point of Departure Chapter 8


Life is rarely as serious as we believe it to be, and when we recognize this fact, it responds by giving us more and more opportunities to play.

The woman in this card is celebrating the joy of being alive, like a butterfly that has emerged from its chrysalis into the promise of the light. She reminds us of the time when we were children, discovering seashells on the beach or building castles in the sand without any concern that the waves might come and wash them away in the next moment. She knows that life is a game, and she’s playing the part of a clown right now with no sense of embarrassment or pretense.

When the Page of Fire enters your life, it is a sign that you are ready for the fresh and the new. Something wonderful is just on the horizon, and you have just the right quality of playful innocence and clarity to welcome it with open arms.

Today I resolve to inject some playfulness into every day. The “something wonderful” is in the moment itself.

Emerson (or Stanley) on Success

I heard a great quote at karate last night, but I had a feeling when I heard it that it was inaccurately attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. It just didn’t sound like him. It turns out, I was right.

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

I found this information on transcendentalists.com:

This quote is almost certainly not from Emerson, though it is often attributed to him. I have never been able to find it in any of Emerson’s writings, nor has anyone else to my knowledge (and plenty of people have been looking).

As of now, it seems that the quote may be traceable to a 1905 publication by a Bessie Stanley. Apparently, in a collection of quotations on “success,” her poem appeared on the facing page from a quotation which was from Emerson. Perhaps the mistaken attribution began when someone copied the source inaccurately from that collection. Here’s a 1905 article from the Lincoln Sentinel about that version of the quote: Bessie Stanley’s Famous Poem

Bessie Stanley’s poem, though, is a bit different from the standard quotation attributed to Emerson — and so there is still some tiny possibility that the quotation is Emerson’s or someone else’s and that Stanley’s was a variation.  At this time, though, the most dependable attribution would be to Bessie Stanley, with the changes attributable to the normal folk process of adaptation and editing.

I’d be interested in finding out if this is just a “whisper down the lane” situation or if there is more information on it.

Happiness Resolution #4: Act As If

This is a great one, and I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while.

“Act as if” means that you behave as if what you want to achieve or who you want to become is already a reality. It’s a little like dressing for the job you want, not the job you have. Or smiling even if you’re unhappy because people will smile back at you. When you act “as if” you were already the person you intend to be (notice, I said intend, not wish) you exude more confidence, authority, happiness, and positive energy.

While going about your day, ask yourself questions about how you would respond to various situations if you were that person already. What would you say when you have a difficult interaction at work? How much more authoritatively would you assert your opinions and leadership? What would you eat or what activities would you pursue if you were already in excellent physical health or had already lost those 20 pounds you’ve been carrying around? How would you respond to your children if you were already a great parent? Making decisions from this perspective takes creativity and energy, but it is well worth the effort. By acting “as if,” you are already well on your way to effecting positive change in who you are and what you want to be.

Much more to say on this, but I wanted to put this out there today. Acting “as if” I have time to blog.