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How quickly things can change

In life, does change happen fast or slow? Everything generally being made up of tiny actions and choices, it can easily seem there’s this inertia to “how things are” and changing them would require a lot of insistent effort. That life drifted into “this way of being” over decades and centuries, building up all these habits and thought patterns that would be hard to shift. But, is that really true?

Thinking of the – probably unscientific – notion that it takes twenty-one days to change a habit, there’s this idea that “all it takes” is a consistent window of conscious intention. That deliberately focussing on something over a period of time would effectively train us in a new way of being and make that our default behaviour.

But, beyond individual habits we might hope to make or break, what about complex situations and patterns of thought? If our lives – individually or collectively – are essentially made up of many small actions and agreements, how are we to conceive of changing things on that level?

Each item on our list would presumably have its logic, its reasoning or justification for doing things that way. All coming together in some form of “big picture” that’s perhaps full of contradictory ideas: a strange mix of tradition, preference, belief, fear, and social or cultural expectations. Why we do things the way we do them seems a deeply personal reality to unpack.

I’m not even sure “how” you attempt to change the items on that list? How you’d pull one out, dust off the logic originally surrounding it and decide to do differently. You obviously “can”, but we’d be living within a shifting reality while changing our beliefs about it: unpicking the threads, discarding their origins, choosing new ideas. Where can we stand to do that? (Notes One)

So, in some ways, change might be easy – you just change something – but deciding what to do instead doesn’t seem straightforward. Do we choose an alternative simply because it’s there; because others are doing it; because it’s deemed popular; because we like the idea of it? Between all the options we’re presented with, which path should we choose?

Because, in reality, things can change very quickly. With the current situation, all our habits pretty suddenly had to change as society ground to a halt for its own preservation. Whether that lasts or things pick back up where we left off remains to be seen. How easy would it even be to create meaningful, lasting changes within the systems we currently have?

That said, haven’t recent decades given almost every aspect of life new form? Technology having shifted us into different ways of operating or thinking about things, it’s interesting to imagine how much has changed in that time: all we might’ve lost or picked up by way of its daily insistence (Notes Two).

Within it all, how clear are we of the picture that’s being created, ideas informing it, or overall meaning of the changes taking place in our lives?

Notes and References:

Note 1: Being trusted to use our discernment…
Note 1: Passing on what’s important
Note 1: The value of a questioning attitude?
Note 1: Personal archaeology
Note 1: One thing leads to another
Note 2: Pace of change & getting nowhere fast
Note 2: Can “how we relate” really change?
Note 2: Mastering life’s invisible realities
Note 2: Trust in technology?
Note 2: Shaping the buildings that shape us

Somewhere alongside all this Things change, over time asked slightly different questions about the process of change.

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