How To Change


You have the power to change.

That’s one of those obvious, joyful cliches of life. But the problem with cliches isn’t that they aren’t true. The problem with cliches is we ignore them. We let them sit dusty and unused.

So again, I repeat: you have the power to change.

Change isn’t easy. In a world of instant gratification, we sometimes lay down for “easy,” hoping the current of the inevitable carries us somewhere nice.

This isn’t that. Change, true change, is difficult. It comes with a few traps, but the first and most powerful is to be ignorant of its possibility.

You should meditate.

Everyone should. When you read about meditating you go “oh, cool,” and turn the page. When a friend does it you’re impressed and jealous. But you don’t. You have yourself calcified and rigid in your own ways.

But you can change.

Let’s be real: has not meditating worked? Would a nine-minute attempt be the dumbest thing you did today? Are you not going to waste nine minutes anyway? Or are you willing to admit it’s not your habit: that it’s hard and scary to change.

It is. That’s why we rule it out from the get-go. But we shouldn’t.

Fuck hard. Fuck scary. Try something new. If it sucks, it sucks. But if it doesn’t? You’ve changed. You’ve exercised your muscle of free will. You’ve expanded your vision.

The second and most important part is to be nice to yourself. Really. Changing is so hard that to commit to it with fiery passion often means you’ll burn yourself out. A change in diet, routine, mental habit, sleep schedule or anything else is way harder in real life than it is on paper. On paper you get to play your life like a video-game: in real life you have to live it.

So be nice to yourself.

Forgive the false-starts. Pick yourself back up. Approach your change with confidence and excitement, not begrudging, self-loathing fire. The first fills you and grows you as you try: the second eats away at you until you collapse.

Third, you have to understand it as possible and inevitable. Change is natural. You’re anxiety and quiet yearnings are pushing you forward even as you anxiously thrash within yourself. You want to improve faster? Be mindful and apply yourself. But don’t for a moment make the mistake of reducing a lifetime of slow gains and backwards stumbles to a moment or symbolic instant. Keep applying yourself and take the broad view. Change comes easier when you remember the larger context of your life.

Fourth: know you can do it. You learned how to talk, right? Or how to walk? Yeah, those are basic examples. You had to. But remember when you’re having anxiety meeting your choices: when you have to do something, you do it. It may not be worth it. It may be too hard. It really and truly may be too difficult and not worth it. But you can. And sometimes knowing that you can makes all the difference.