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  • Writer's pictureMaria A. Mansfield

The Challenge of Change

Change is, by definition, to notice a difference in something or someone. To experience a transition or a transformation. Of course, we know what change looks like. It's part of our human existence. Our circumstances are constantly changing, and life is always in motion. Two weeks ago, my husband and I became empty nesters. It's been a change in our life for sure! We're excited our sons are pursuing their dreams and that life carries on for all of us -each doing what we do best. Yet, the inevitable memories of family life still linger. So why does change feel like a challenge for us? Or why do we resist it?

Transformation doesn't just happen overnight. Change can be challenging because it takes our commitment, effort, and consistency. However, even seemingly small daily habits become significant changes that tend to elevate all the other aspects of our life. Starting with one realistic goal and achieving results will empower us to change in other areas bringing us satisfaction, new opportunities, and growth. Sometimes old habits die hard because although we get mediocre results -they almost work! But just as we learned bad habits or strategies, we can unlearn them and adopt positive ones.

The change of season could be a perfect place to start a new way of doing things and challenge ourselves to come up higher while expanding our boundaries. The right motivation and why we want to change will keep us going long after the initial excitement wears off. Are you in a transition right now? What does expanding your boundaries look like for you? Are we able to learn from others? H. Jackson Brown Jr. once said: "Every person you meet knows something you don't. Learn from them." So true! How would it feel to be open to new possibilities, to new people, to different ways of doing the same things?

My oldest son, who just moved to Los Angeles, is a recording artist and was going to an open mic (when artists can go and sing their songs for an audience) with his guitar in his backpack case. Walking toward the subway station in downtown L.A., he noticed this homeless man was following him. With a quick glance, my son could see that his body was tattooed entirely -even his face and he had Barbie pink hair. My son wasn't afraid of the homeless man but still thought it strange that he was following him. So my son suddenly turned around and said hi to him. When he met his eyes, he knew he wasn't a threat. The homeless man also muttered a timid: "Hi." Then, the homeless man asked him if he played the guitar, and of course, my son said yes. The next thing that happens is what movies are made of. The homeless man asks my son if he can sing a song for him! My son agrees, so they sit on the subway bench, each on opposite ends, and my son plays a cover to which the homeless man knows the lyrics. So they sing together, and by the second song, the homeless man's wrinkled and seemingly threatening face now has tears streaming down. By now, everyone who was waiting for the train was watching. Some are smiling, but others look confused, maybe thinking -why would it be so crucial for this kid to perform so wholeheartedly for this homeless man? What a gift that moment was! The homeless got his wish! He asked for a song and got three instead. My son performed twice that evening: for a homeless man and then at the open mic! And the commuters on the subway platform -who knows? Maybe for a few minutes became a little less desensitized to random human acts of kindness like this. -And just three songs did that! Imagine what a different world we could live in if we could slow down and really "see" others around us and care more about them. Talk about a change! Maybe it's a tall order, but it might still be worth the attempt.

Later that evening, my son told us about his experience with this homeless man, and I asked him why he thought that homeless man had asked him to sing him a song. He replied, "Well, I think he genuinely wanted to listen to a song. Maybe it had been a while since he'd heard any music. Or best yet, he might have wanted a human connection." In the daily busyness of big cities, homeless people can feel almost invisible. However charitable, throwing change into a jar doesn't really count as a human connection. How do we explain such loneliness and disassociation in a day when it seems we'd be as connected as ever?

So the challenge still stands. We can stay the same or change what's not working in our life for the better. To get out of our comfort zone, as scary as that looks, who knows? We might make someone's day! The thing is, the decision to do this has to come from us. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said: "I cannot do your pushups for you. You have to do them." He was right.

We wish for instant results. We live in a society where for three easy payments, we can improve our waistline, general health, performance, success, and even get rich! If that were true, everyone would be thin, healthy, successful, and wealthy. What happened to the effort, the hours, and the dedication it takes to achieve positive results?

When people want to change, they ask: What do I need to do? The better question is: Who do I need to become first? When we become the best we can be, changes flow more naturally. We can change our lives because we've first changed as individuals.

If we took stock of your life today, what habits, personality traits, routines, or mindsets might need an updated version? What are our goals? What can we start or stop doing?

Change welcomes gratitude. We can be thankful for the progress we've accomplished. Being kind to ourselves is really important too. Self-criticism doesn't help us do better. Negative thoughts don't improve our performance. Comparing ourselves to others: -Why would we do that? As Theodore Roosevelt said once: "Comparison is the thief of joy." Sometimes, we compare ourselves to who's further along the road and their success but forget there's always someone who wishes they could be like us.

Our legacy is what we leave after our time is up. What will yours be? It's not necessarily the balance in the bank; it's more about the legacy and impact we leave on others. Jim Rohn said: "We make a living with what we get. We make a life with what we give." I love that! We all have something we can offer the world. That dream that's inside of you is still yours to fulfill. What would you like to accomplish with your life? Maybe this is the season for change!

All my best and Happy Fall!

Maria A. Mansfield, PRS



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