Thursday, November 15, 2012

Change and Such


         I have heard that only babies like change.
         I do not believe that.
         Ask anyone and they will likely provide a list of things they want to change – about themselves, about their work, about the people around them. The status quo gets boring. The longer we do the same thing, the more likely we are to find ways to do it better – change what we are doing. Regularly we are changing things around us.
         Yet when change comes from the outside, the chorus of “why can’t we leave it the way it was” rises quickly, and often most loudly, and from those people calling for change. Law, policy, new information directs change from many directions. Some of them questionable. Some of them worthy. Change happens and is a force in all we do. Our lives are stressful – or not depending on how we handle the changes that come.
         Years ago Holmes and Rahe developed a scale on how much stress a person has in their life. The scale calculated stress based on life-changes a person experienced in a year’s time. Whenever I ask someone to look at it, they are shocked to see that even positive changes create stress in life.
         Deaths (of family or friends) are stressful.
         Relationship troubles are stressful.
         Getting fired is stressful.
         Yes, even getting a raise is stressful.
         So is a vacation.
         Every change we have in our life is stressful. When the stress points total 150 points in a year, the person has a 50% chance of developing an illness. When the points total 300, the person has a 90% chance of developing illness or some other kind of blow-up.
         While Holmes and Rahe provide a guide to change stress, perhaps most important about change is how we approach it. Change and such happens around us on a daily basis. What matters is how we go about approaching it. We can resist and fight all change, increasing the stress that comes with it. We can take the opposite tactic and go with the flow to reduce the stress (Wrong! Going with it when we disagree with it is just as stressful as, or even more stressful than, fighting it).
         Or we can select our battles. Accept that change happens around us and let some change go unchallenged because it is part of the environment in which we work/live, but challenge those things that matter most about us. The energy that stress requires can be turned to something positive. Prescribed change challenges even the most resilient person, but the better we learn to manage that change and our reaction to it, the healthier we will be. We cannot prevent change, but we can control our response to it.

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