In a society that glorifies busyness and rebrands routine as rut, we can often find ourselves trying to shake things up, always looking for ways to achieve a higher level of success, coolness, ultimate triumph. While we can debate what true realization might look like in earnest, this drive to chase ever-changing success stories and hacks seems to have unequivocally divided the world between people who embrace change and people who resist it.
While all the scholarly literature and change management manuals are trying to convince me that all people do, in fact, resist change, I’ve always found myself at the opposite end of that bell curve and have therefore often struggled to understand why people felt so uncomfortable – scared even – at the prospect of some aspect of their life adjusting or transforming.
In defense of change-averse people: biologically, a habitual life is the crown jewel of human existence. In fact, experts have been telling us for years that our circadian rhythm is sacred and should be preserved by doing the same things, at the same time, every single day. Some people even go as far as eating the same exact food, or slight variations thereof, every day of their life. It may sound boring to some, but it’s the same logic that leads revered CEOs to dress the same way every day: streamline habitual processes so you can free your brain from having to constantly make trivial decisions.
We could also take a brief stroll through our evolutionary history and argue that for the vast majority of human existence, our bodies were perfectly engineered to wake up at sunrise and go to sleep at sundown; each season dictating its unique level of labor intensity, rotating in the same perfect pattern every year.
Yet, somehow, through the millennia, that harmony of established habits changed as well. Traditions evolved as we augmented our shared knowledge and mastered new technologies. Entire societal norms were altered. How would have any of that been possible if all people were change-averse?
Using a less grandiose timeline than the whole of human existence, we can simply take a quick scan of our lives and come to the same conclusion. We’ve all gone through school changing teachers and classmates every year. We all tried a variety of sports and were on different teams. We’ve all moved from one house to another, or even between different countries and continents. At some point we had to learn what the internet was and our social, familiar, economic, and work habits changed right along it.
It seems effortless to simply flow from one state of reality to the next – and for this, I thank the autocorrect feature that was installed in my OS at birth. Yet, I know it’s unfitting to analyze others’ alleged fears through the lens of my own personal thoughts and feelings. Just because I think their fear of change is not valid, it doesn’t mean that it’s not real.
As much as I cherish the calmness of a pre-established routine, working in communications and PR has taught me to always stay alert, ready to bounce on breaking news whether it’s morning, afternoon, or the middle of the night. Granted, the round-the-clock alertness can easily result in burn out for rookies, but if you enjoy change and somewhat revel in Chaos, you feel right at home.
Right, Chaos. Humanity coded it negatively since the start. Chaos is what we fight against, what we try to move away from and give order to. The common struggle of fighting against it in our daily lives is also what made Marie Kondo a world-wide phenomenon.
Yet, Chaos is the primordial life force that gave birth to everything. That’s where the Greek gods emerged from, and possibly the very definition of the Big Bang that created our entire universe.
And then there’s Chaos Theory – the most intriguing discipline of all. While everybody else was busy deciding between change and homeostasis, Chaos theorists developed models to apply perfect mathematical equations to the chaotic data sets of real life. While I am sure I will soon forget the actual math behind it, reading about Chaos theory made me realize the absolute beauty of math approaching reality. Because the truth is that reality can’t be measured in a vacuum, it cannot be calculated with just a couple of variables. Small changes can cause immense variations as the chaotic system progresses.
And that is, truthfully, the most hauntingly beautiful lesson I never thought mathematicians could express so precisely. I don’t mean to sound down on math – I’ve simply always preferred literature as a medium to express the human soul. Chaos is the realm of infinite possibilities. Some of those variables compose the unique set that make up your life. Any small change will cause disruption at some point down the road.
Nothing is permanent: not your home, not your occupation, not even your identity. Just because you have the privilege of choosing some of the variables, does not mean you are in control. And thank God for that. I’ve witnessed first-hand the unraveling of control-prone personalities once unpredictable changes disrupted their lives. Anxiety crippled their decision-making power while fear drove every resolution – they drowned in a kiddie pool thinking a whole raging ocean was trying to submerge them. All they had to do was to stop trying to control the water, and simply roll over and look at the sky.
In the end, whether you are inclined to adapt or resist to change, you can only control your own behavior and your own consciousness. Set your soul to auto-correct and surrender to the possibilities that Chaos is opening up for you.