I have been pondering lately about what affects change. I have seen many people strive to change their bad habits, their environment, their jobs, their spouses, their associations; all for the purpose of making their lives more happy and complete. What type of change brings about the greatest happiness?
I have come to the conclusion that much of the change we seek is an “external fix” when in reality we need an “internal fix” to make our change lasting and for the best. Let me explain. A spouse says they have fallen out of love with the other partner. OK, but that usually doesn’t happen when we focus on others more than ourselves. In other words, when the flames of the hot romance changed to making bottles of baby formula, the dynamics of the relationship changed, but the love did not have to. Selfishness raised its ugly head and demanded more time and space, leading toward the path of exclusion. Usually only one partner participates in this path while the other is left carrying the loads of life alone. It doesn’t have to be this way. (I realize there are certainly situations where many sets of circumstances result in a split that is necessary- I’m not judging anyone who has gone through this, but simply use this as an example to make my point).
An internal fix would say “Mend it, don’t end it.” Spend more time helping the other partner to succeed, to deal with life’s changes in a positive and sharing way, to “forget yourself, and go to work” so to speak.
Fortitude is required to invite the internal fix. It does require looking inward for change. Here are the amazing things that happen when we do this:
- We grow exponentially when we focus on others and not ourselves.
- Our world expands as more doors of opportunities open.
- Our relationships become more meaningful and deeper.
- Our time has more value and meaning.
As a reminder of these things, I made up a little poster I keep in front of my computer. I’ve changed it a bit for publication, but it goes something like this:
My ROUTINES – Are they focused on results? Have I established patterns of excellence that build character and are filled with integrity?
My TIME – Is it spent building others? Listen with a heart and not ears, seek to understand and then build and serve.
My ASSOCIATIONS – Are they enlightening? Don’t hang out with negative deadbeats, and don’t be one yourself. If you are positive, chances are you are spending time with positive people.
My DESIRE (for success in life and in relationships) – Is it Constant? Do I always strive to see the best in others? Am I anxiously engaged in good causes? Does my desire wane in the face of challenges, or does it increase as I direct the proper focus?
In all of life, this applies. Let’s decide to be a person who makes a difference daily, in a positive and proactive way. Let’s learn to be the type of person that people want to associate with.