Change is a word and concept that has been used throughout the ages.  Many songs have been written about it; it has been used in science with the greek symbol “delta,” and even has been the recent center piece for campaign slogans.  Unfortunately, recent economic shifts and in certain cases climactic conditions have caused us to use the word even more than before.  But what exactly is change?  Do we resist it and loathe it or do we use it to our advantage? 

Characteristics of Change

The word change actually means to make or become different (in verb form) or the instance of becoming different in noun form.  Change can take many forms, such as the change in the seasons or the change of water from  solid to a liquid.  Change can be physical or psychological. Change can be internal or external, and can be both positive and negative. However, change is very dependent on one’s point of view, perspective, or even coping mechanism.  If we view the world in a negative light, then all change is for the most part bad.  If, however, we see the world through the eyes of the “glass is half full” lens or the even better "I am just happy to have a glass at all," then change becomes a challenge that we take on with hunger and drive.  We accept change for what it is and even embrace it, thriving in the adventure of it all.  Once again, gratitude rears its head, yet again, in the kernel that makes all change a good thing.     

Accepting Change is a choice that we make

We really have not choice in the matter.  Change will come.  And when it does, it’s our choice whether to accept it and look at the bright side, or wallow in self pity and remember the “glory days.”  The choice is predominantly yours to make.  Having the will to see change in a positive way is what differentiates us from animals that are predominantly driven by instinct.  Your prefrontal cortex helps you to adapt to changes and reprogram yourself to see change in a positive light.  However, as you probably suspect, this takes work on our part. 

Grow through change

My wife always says, “change is inevitable, growth is optional.”  That is so true.  The option to grow lies deep within our own souls.  In the place where FEAR (False Events Appearing Real) resides.  We may be able to put on a facade for most people, but the person in the mirror never lies to you.  To be able to truly embrace change is very, very difficult, but it can be done.  Viewing change as a challenge is the first step.  We all like or even love competition.  Don’t let change get the best of you.  Plan for it and be organized and ready to embrace it when it happens.  Visualize what it will be like after the change.  For example, if you are switching jobs soon actually attempt to put yourself in the shoes of the new job; anticipate what it will feel like.  This will moderate any negative effects that may come your way.  Finally, get out and exercise both your mind and your body.  A strong immune system is fairly resilient to change. a weak immune system will succumb to it.  

One final note on change.  Most of the time, change is a good thing.  When change does not take place in our lives, we become complacent and stagnant.  Complacency and stagnation can degrade your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual states.  That is why it is always good to “change things up a bit” in everything that you do; your diet, your workouts, your relationship with your spouse, the trips that you take with your kids, the route that you take when you go for a walk with your dog. 

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Speaking of your dog, the old saying is not true.  Aging people can learn new things and should.  Adapting a “child like” fascination when you get older will keep you young.  The term neuroplasticity is a fairly recent descriptor to our capacity of the human brain to adapt and learn new things, even as we age.  The fact is that our neurons NEVER stop changing and adapting.  This is both a good and a bad thing, and we need to understand why.  Our brain’s capacity to quickly learn new things also makes us vulnerable to traumatic events, bad habits, or mindless activities such as channel surfing or Facebook surfing.  Limiting these mindless activities will retain our capacities to learn new things and engage in meaningful activities with other people.  When you teach an old dog new tricks, make sure that the tricks are beneficial and stimulating and not destructive.  


Look at the routines in your life.  Look at ways that you can change things up a bit.  This will help you to deal with real change when it happens.  Think of it as training for the real thing.  When you learn to adapt to change on a weekly/daily basis, your brain becomes more pliable and when real change happens, you are conditioned for it and it does not affect you as much.  Do something completely different this week with your spouse or with your friends.  Don’t do the same old thing.  That same old thing is contributing to your complacency and neurological calcification.  

I hope that reading this article has brought you more in tune with change and how to deal with it.  Sometimes just thinking about things and communicating with someone alleviates some of the anxiety that we feel with change. 

Just remember that change is the one constant in our lives!

Dr. N