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Jun 5, 2011

Change is Inevitable

I came across an article from Xmuel.com to blog to express about change which my friends request to post on this blog topic.

The past, present and the future is the slogan and change as the buzzword we notice today, splashed on the headlines every media channel in every language…for a better world, not for the worse.
Pause and look at the world around you: it will end in a moment.

Change pervades every part of our world on our every scale. Your own body is changing as you read this message. Your topmost layers of skin are subtly dying, to be replaced by the skin beneath. Your hair is growing. In your stomach, food is being annihilated and transformed into useful fuel. The room around you is decaying. Dustmotes too small to see swirl and dance, gathering across every surface. The beverage next to your desk is slowly evaporating.

Macro-scale changes are similarly all-pervasive. The stock market is a chaotic storm of thrilling change. A continuum of wondrous new technology emerges, rises to power, and becomes obsolete as you watch. The slang and idioms of today are gradually canonized, and your very language slowly evolves. Politicians come and go, and in the larger time scale, their very parties come and go, and again larger scale, their very countries come and go.

Change is one of the biggest, most common fears in western society. More people fear change, more deeply, than any other phobia. Here’s a little exercise. Imagine if tomorrow you wake up in a totally different country. You find that you can speak the language with ease, at the same time you’ve magically forgotten your original language. You have friends, a career, family… all in this foreign country which is utterly different than anything you’ve ever experienced. Although your life in the new landscape is equally blessed compared to your former life, feel how out of place and shocked you are. Now, try to see through the eyes of someone who’s lived in that foreign land from birth. Imagine that THEY took your place and you took theirs, when the transportation occurred. They’ve inherited your old life while you inherited theirs. Are they any less shocked and displaced than you? They are just as lost and afraid! That proves, it’s not the new country- whichever country you chose- that stirs up those fears. It’s CHANGE itself which stirs them up.

Change is the most powerful fear in our society. CONQUER the fear of change, and that puts you among the bravest people alive.

Change is inevitable: you cannot stop it, neither can you escape it, not though you expend all the power of the mythological gods. You have a choice: you can resist change, and change will occur. Or, you can accept change, and change will occur.
The third, secret option, is to embrace change. Condition yourself to love change, and all your life you’ll be thrilled by it. Certainly there’ll never be any lack of change.

There are different levels of embracing change. You can superficially embrace change on the outside, and still fear it deep inside. You can embrace change on every level. Most people don’t embrace change at all: most people despise and fear change.

HOW CAN YOU MOVE FURTHER TOWARD EMBRACING CHANGE?

Despite how much people fear change, it’s very easy to take steps toward conquering the fear. The techniques are so simple, they almost seem silly.

TECHNIQUE #1: Conscious choice. Consciously, deliberately make the decision to embrace change. Make this a routine. At least once a day, say to yourself: “I choose to welcome change in my life.” Gradually, your fear of change will begin to loosen.

TECHNIQUE #2: Fake-it-til-you-make-it. A variation on Technique #1, in Fake-it-til-you-make-it, you tell yourself: “I welcome change in my life.” Do this at least once a day. This technique is more powerful than technique #1. However, if you’re highly resistant to change, using this technique might produce resistance. For example, you might feel silly because of your efforts. You might feel like, “I’m just lying to myself.” If resistance comes up, persevere; alternately, go to Technique #1 for awhile until you can make the jump to Technique #2 more smoothly.

TECHNIQUE #3: Attention (hat tip Eckhart Tolle). Whenever you find yourself getting upset about ANY change. Simply become aware of this. Don’t go out of your way or do any sort of special reaction: merely say to yourself, “hmmm, I’m resisting change right now.” Or better yet, merely KNOW to yourself, that you’re resisting change, without any mental dialogue. The point is, become aware of the matter. Amazingly, merely being aware of the resistance, will have a dissolving effect on the resistance. It’s like magic, and it’s really very powerful. The technique is very powerful when you pull it off, the downside is it takes lots of discipline to remember to become aware like that when very real day-to-day situations trigger change-resistance.

TECHNIQUE #4: Ridiculous Optimism. When you become aware of change of any form, find ways that it can benefit you. Really look for that silver lining behind every raincloud. It doesn’t matter if the “bad” in the situation outweighs the “good” by a huge amount; do whatever mental gymnastics it takes, to find SOMETHING to be grateful for in the change. I’ll list some examples.

Example 1 of Ridiculous Optimism: Your favorite TV show is cancelled. Well, maybe this is just a sign it’s time to finish that classic novel you’ve been meaning to read. Maybe this is an opportunity to discover something better which you can spend that hour doing.

Example 2 of Ridiculous Optimism: You get fired. Well, at least now you don’t have to put up with (insert some workplace bother). Maybe this is just a sign that it’s time to do a career change. If nothing else… life is going to get a bit more adventurous!

Example 3 of Ridiculous Optimism: You break up with your significant other. Well, they had certain baggage, and now you’re rid of that. You can go hit the singles bars, maybe a few danceclubs, have some fun. If nothing else, you’ve learned a great deal from the relationship and it’ll make a fascinating, dramatic chapter in your life when you look back later.

TECHNIQUE #5: Worst-Case-Optimism. This technique is a sort of meditation. It’s an imagination exercise. When a change comes up which you seem to be upset about. Visualize the worst scenario that could possibly happen. For example, your company has to cut costs: worst case scenario, you could be fired. Imagine yourself working at another workplace, laughing and joking with the coworkers. Maybe your party loses the national elections. Absolute worst case scenario, you could be imprisoned as a political prisoner. Picture yourself in a work camp, sharing a clandestine smile with a fellow prisoner. Picture yourself twenty years later, when your party’s come back into power, making speeches and selling books about your experience. The details aren’t important, nor do they have to be really logical even. The point is that after imagining surviving the worst case scenario and thriving. Whatever much easier situations arise, you’ll be able to laugh at.

LIVE IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW

Many people, especially older people, cling to a bygone world. Biding their time, waiting til all these new fads go out of style and things return to how they were fifty years ago. Well, that ain’t gonna happen. Embrace the world of the now. Embrace the new technology. Embrace the new language and slang. Embrace new philosophies, new entertainment, new fashion. If you don’t, the new things will just come anyway, you certainly can’t stop them!

CHANGE REALLY IS INEVITABLE

Even if you were king of the world and could ban change with an iron fist, change would eventually come. If nothing else, you would eventually die. Death is as much a part of the human condition as birth. A proverb says:

The end of meeting is parting.
The end of building is ruin.
The end of accumulation is dispersal.
The end of birth is death.

Think about this for a second. This isn’t a rule of thumb. This proverb is cruel, unforgiving truth. Everyone you know right now, in a hundred years you will no longer know them. Every manmade thing in your life, in a thousand years they will be gone. You yourself WILL die, and that is the ultimate change. Accept the fact that you will die. EMBRACE the fact that you will die. USE the fact that you will die, as inspiration to live an intense life, filled to the uttermost with adventure and achievements and love and joy. There’s no time to waste. You could be dead a moment from now, so ENJOY THIS MOMENT!!

A WORLD OF ENTROPY

In parting, here’s a final visualization. Imagine what would happen to the world if humans were suddenly whisked away. Picture the remains of a metropolis. At first, it’s just another day, except no humans around. Vegetation starts growing unchecked, over the years, stubborn plants start breaking down the pavement, the cement, all the structures. Weather beats upon the buildings, animals gradually move in, all the skyscrapers begin to decay. Earthquakes and fires, floods and hurricanes rage, breaking the city down. Unmaintained, anything manmade will gradually decay away. Picture the city after a hundred years. Completely overgrown and decayed.

What about after a thousand years? Will there be anything left? Even if archaeologists dug it up, there’d be very little left of the city. What about after ten thousand years? A hundred thousand years?

Change is powerful, the most powerful force in the universe, it’s an awesome force and a beautiful one, when you embrace and welcome it.
A city on the deserted island of Hashima, Japan

The following is a compilation of relevant quotes from Internet resources for reference purposes, not intended to be dogmatic, didactic or blasphemous:

"Everything changes, nothing remains without change." ~ Buddha quotes (Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C).

"What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: Our life is the creation of our mind". ~ Buddha

"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened". ~ Buddha

Happiness never decreases by being shared". ~ Buddha

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned. We are what we think. All that we are arises With our thoughts. With our thoughts, We make our world". ~ Buddha

"There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills". ~ Buddha

"The rule of friendship means there should be mutual sympathy between them, each supplying what the other lacks and trying to benefit the other, always using friendly and sincere words". ~ Buddha

"Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings - that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide". ~ Buddha

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense". ~ Buddha

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become". ~ Buddha

"Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten. You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger". ~ Buddha

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned". ~ Buddha

"Through zeal, knowledge is gotten; through lack of zeal, knowledge is lost".
~ Buddha

"You cannot travel on the path until you become the path itself". ~ Buddha

"He is not the same, nor is he another". ~ Buddha

"Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom". ~ Buddha

"When one has the feeling of dislike for evil, when one feels tranquil, one finds pleasure in listening to good teachings; when one has these feelings and appreciates them, one is free of fear". ~ Buddha

"Let the wise guard their thoughts, which are difficult to perceive, extremely subtle, and wander at will. Thought which is well guarded is the bearer of happiness". ~ Buddha

"Be vigilant; guard your mind against negative thoughts". ~ Buddha

"We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them". ~ Buddha

"Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace". ~ Buddha

"They are not following Dharma who resort to violence to achieve their purpose. But those who lead others through nonviolent means, knowing right and wrong, may be called guardians of the Dharma". ~ Buddha

"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection". ~ Buddha

'He insulted me, he cheated me, he beat me, he robbed me' -- those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace. A good friend who points out mistakes and imperfections and rebukes evil is to be respected as if he reveals a secret of hidden treasure". ~ Buddha

"This life of separateness may be compared to a dream, a phantasm, a bubble, a shadow, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning". ~ Buddha

"I reached in experience the Nirvana which is unborn, unrivalled, secure from attachment, undecaying and unstained. This condition is indeed reached by me which is deep, difficult to see, difficult to understand, tranquil, excellent, beyond the reach of mere logic, subtle, and to be realized only by the wise". ~ Buddha

"Never in this world can hatred be stilled by hatred; it will be stilled only by non-hatred -- this is the law of eternal". ~ Buddha

"Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law". ~ Buddha

"Our theories of the eternal are as valuable as are those which a chick which has not broken its way through its shell might form of the outside world". ~ Buddha

"A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker". ~ Buddha

"A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering".

"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful".

"A good traveler has no fixed plan, and is not intent on arriving."
- Lao Tzu

"If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never be truly fulfilled."
- Lao Tzu

"Understanding unity helps to solve humanity's biggest challenges. There is no such thing as an isolated problem. By injuring any part of the world's system, you injure yourself. There is no such thing as a win/lose situation. Think of life on this planet in terms of systems and not detached elements. Broaden your field of vision and assimilate the knowledge you have. See that the environment does not belong to any single country to exploit and then disregard. You cannot afford to think of your relationship with the earth as a one-night stand. There's no such thing as a free glass of milk. It's time to buy the cow". ~ Za Rinpoche

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world". - Mahatma Gandhi

"There Is greatness all around you - welcome it! It is easy to be great when you get around great people". ~ Bob Richards

"If you fly with the crows, you will get shot with the crows.
Well that's what my old grandad told me.And he was full of bullet holes". ~ Unknown

"God does not play dice with the Universe". ~ Einstein

"Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit".
~ Max Ehrman, Desiderata

"The ear tests words as the tongue tastes food".
~ Job 34:3 NIV

"Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action".
~ 1 John 3:18 NRSV

"The fewer the words, the better the prayer". ~ Martin Luther King

"Some people want to see God with their eyes as they see a cow, and to love Him as they love their cow - for the milk and cheese and profit it brings them. This is how it is with people who love God for the sake of outward wealth or inward comfort. They do not rightly love God, when they love Him for their own advantage. Indeed, I tell you the truth, any object you have in your mind, however good, will be a barrier between you and the inmost Truth...." ~ Meister Meister Eckhart (1260?-1327?)

"The World is three days: As for yesterday, it has vanished, along with
all that was in it. As for tomorrow, you may never see it. As for today, it
is yours, so work in it". ~ Hassan al-Basri

"A friend cannot be considered a friend until he is tested in three
occasions: in time of need, behind your back, and after your death".
~ Ali ibn abi Talib (radiAllah anhu)

"Allah doesn't like unjustice. He loveth not those who do wrong. If you end up suffering injustice, we do not know what Allah has planned in the bigger picture of things. Allah is The Just; and will bring justice. If not now, then in the hereafter". ` Unknown

"Innumerable changes of moods are yours,
and they are uncontrolled by you.
If you knew their origin,
you would be able to dominate them.
If you cannot localize your own changes,
how can you localize that which formed you?"
~ Jalaluddin al-Rumi
[Fihi Ma Fihi]
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"The best way to understand and believe that change is inevitable is the weather and natural calamities (eg: tsunami, typhoon, volcano euption, etc) which affect millions of people - every time".
~ Thimbuktu
Things do not change; we change
Farah Aida examines social change in Singapore

By Farah Aida

Change is the only constant in life. This constant is the cause rather than the effect that sets things in motion. By ‘things’ I mean, systems, structures, situations and circumstances that define our existence in any civilized society. The essence of these ‘things’ does not change because they shape the basic structure from which such a society may grow and flourish. However their forms or features may differ just as human faces may look different depending on an individual’s ethnicity. These days, under the skilled hands of a plastic surgeon, the features of a human face can also change. The fact that we are now scientifically capable of altering the forms of our faces to match our outfits indicates that we effect changes on things because our attitudes, needs, mindsets and expectations have and will continually undergo ‘extreme makeovers’.

As Singaporeans, we too have not been spared although it is generally believed that the patriarchal style of government instilled in our early days of Independence may have cultivated a society that seemed to change only when things change. Supporters of this viewpoint may cite the population control measures introduced in the late 60s and early 70s, which included the 1968 “Keep Your Family Small” campaign, voluntary sterilisation in 1969 and the “Stop At Two” campaign of 1971 as obvious illustrations of this perspective. So successful were these measures that our population steadily declined every year since 1975.

However, it is presumptuous to assume that government policies alone resulted in the plummeting birth rates. According to sociologists Rajakru and Yap, “modern attitudes to working life,... late marriage and single living,... made these policies... highly effective.” These considerations should not be disregarded especially when it is clear that the changes in our attitudes and expectations have made the policies of that time successful. This is in direct contrast to the intense criticism and “great public outcry” that arose with regard to measures in the 1980s to promote selective procreation based on education, economic levels and inadvertently ethnic class. Singaporeans then disagreed with the rationale behind such policies and refused to alter their mindsets to accept such a change. Consequently those measures were dissolved.

Despite our seemingly non-confrontational demeanor, we still hold our destiny in our hands. When external change occurs it is because we have made internal changes first. In 2001 Dr Kenneth Tan from the National University of Singapore wrote an article, ‘“Civic Society” And The “New Economy” In Patriarchal Singapore’, that discussed the existence of universal gender stereotypes in Singapore society; the man is regarded as the provider and protector whilst the woman is the biological producer. However just three years later, changes are already taking place. The Prime Minister’s Office released the following statement on August 25, 2004:

To keep pace with the trend that women are increasingly playing a larger role in supporting their families, the Civil Service has revised its medical benefits policy... The changes will facilitate greater sharing of care-giving responsibilities between married couples.

This media release echoes the words of incumbent Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech when he said, “...we can't stand still because... our people are changing and... so must the way we govern Singapore.”

However, skeptics may say that the government, of any nation, looks into the interests of the party in power first before proceeding to address the concerns of its people. I concede that there are measures at the national level that may be unappealing, unrealistic and even disadvantageous to the individual but ultimately a self-governing system like ours must concern itself firstly with the survival of the nation before looking into the interests of individuals. In this respect, changes in the people’s expectations will cause changes in governing styles although the essence of government remains the same.

Having said this, there is however an area in which times have changed but Singaporeans have not. Although we have gained developed nation status and are supposedly more educated and affluent than our forefathers, we have deteriorated in our social graces. The then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong’s National Day Rally speech in 2001 gave mention to Singaporeans’ complacency and lack of social graces “at home and in other countries.” In this respect the forms of our human nature have not evolved to complement our economic achievements. We still hold some of the negative immigrant mentality, such as the ‘kiasu’ trait that was probably necessary in a fledgling state, but which has no place in the first world nation we presently reside in. It was William James who said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.” We must therefore make a conscious effort to shed the ‘me-first’ mindset in exchange for a kinder, civil and community-conscious attitude lest our efforts at qualitative progress remain at best, mediocre.

QLRS Vol. 4 No. 2 Jan 2005

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4 Comments:

Blogger unk Dicko said...

Bravo James!
After reading this article anyone should be able to understand "change" even if they have not learnt to accept it. Very cheem I must say. Glad you posted this.
Tonight I must change my sleeping habit a little as there is a rare full lunar eclipse starting at 3.25 AM to about 5 AM Sg time,
in the western sky.

June 16, 2011 at 1:16 AM  
Blogger Andy Young* said...

An argument that puts change in its proper perspective.

The thesis deserves to be on James' very popular blog.

Thank you for the article.

June 16, 2011 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger Yip said...

Hi James,

I simply loved that poster showing the evolution of men, from an ape to a slave of the computer. How apt! A picture painted a thousand words.

All in all, both Gautama and Darwin are among the greatest thinkers of all times!

Frances, ipohgal.

June 16, 2011 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Hi Unk Dicko,

The universal is just a grain of sand, so the scientist said.

According to current scientific theory, the cosmos began 13.7 billion years ago short scale in the Big Bang. Ever-evolving, even changing...couldn't understand beyong imagination.

No worries, sleep well every night and wake up the next morning to leave God to work His miracles as sure as the sun must rise.

Cheers!

June 16, 2011 at 12:24 PM  

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