The Inconvenience of Change: We Are Creatures of Habit

2009 May 14
by Grace Boyle

This is a guest post I wrote for Matt Cheuvront’s blog, Life Without Pants: The Inconvenience of Change series. For some fantastic dialogue, check out the comments on the original post here.

Creatures of Habit

We are creatures of habit. We find comfort in regularity. When something out of the ordinary comes along, forces us to dig deep and make a U-Turn instead of keep going straight, it’s jarring. All of a sudden the comfort and familiarity are gone and we’re alone-not quite sure what to do next.

Why is change so inconvenient? I think it is connected to our brains and psyche. James Gordon, M.D. says, “It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.” Change is inconvenient because people are afraid of the unknown. Our society has conditioned us to believe that the unknown in life is like walking the plank, harrowing and dangerous. Does it have to be dangerous? Without the unknown being conquered, no inventions would be made, no entrepreneurs would take leaps and the list continues on. Think about the psychological affect our brain has to go through. It impacts the human mind and if we’re scared of it, we think that level of change and unknown might get worse or cause us more pain. The very anatomy of change is determined not by ones surroundings, but one’s inherent mindset.

While sometimes our brain finds it hard to mentally morph and glide with change, it is inevitably happening around us, even if we’re not conscious of it. I believe that change, is for us to use to We Are Creatures of Habitmove forward.

So, how can we move forward with change?

Embrace change, head on. Focus on the power of thought and intention. Baby steps are still steps in the right direction and recognize it may take time. Then find others to help and support you in your plight. Think about when you hear a story about someone who overcame great adversity and change. You’re quite often inspired and moved, ready to take a leap of faith yourself. If change is uncomfortable (let’s face it, it usually is) surround yourself with the goodness of others and their action to make change happen.

Nicholas Christakis, a professor of medical sociology at Harvard University says, “People are better able to make changes in their lives-lose weight, quit smoking, become happy-when they do this with a large number of other people.” Here we are, collaborating and sharing ideas, participating through blogging and social networks (on and offline).  We’re already part of a change revolution. Christakis believes, “social networks have this interesting property of magnifying whatever they are seeded with, and so taking advantage of your social network ties can result in a magnification of your own efforts.”

Readiness for change and embracing the unknown comes at a different pace for each person. Each person has a varying readiness level, depending on their situation but it only takes one step and the recognition to make change. Then by taking the step forward, we can, as a force, be a catalyst for change.

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  • Brett Borders

    Awesome post!

    I've been thinking a LOT about this all week and am writing a post on a similar subject – it's cool how minds journey through digital spaces and come to similar conclusions at the same time.

    In short: I think the people who do well in technology are those people who are most comfortable with constant change and adaptation to new digital realities. The people who aren't able to push themselves past habits and make changes over the years will become irrelevant.

    I am a neophile, a person who (in principle) embraces new ideas and experiences – – but I definitely have some of my insidious, stagnant programs lurking that keep me from going full force. Sometimes it's really hard with blogs and interactive media to be “smart” and “on” all the time. To sign up for more sites. To learn new systems and skills when you feel overflowed with all the stuff you have going. I struggle with this.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Brett I like how you brought up change in terms of technology because it's something that people like you and I deal with everyday (social media, blogs, new tools, etc.) and it's constantly changing. You bring up such a good point that to be smart and on top of it with tech is to be able to oscillate and change, with the flow. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  • Gadget_Blog

    This is quite impressive, I am pleased to read this post, keep posts like this coming, you totally rock!

  • Grace Boyle

    @Gadget_Blog Thanks for your kind words and stopping by my blog. I always appreciate new visitors and feedback, so it's great to hear from you!

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  • smoking risks

    Hi Grace :)

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post. but i don't know how addicted people can deal with *change*, may be you can enlighten us with some thoughts :)


  • Grace Boyle

    @Tonny Thanks for stopping by. I know that addiction isn't easy and it's a new ballgame when it comes to change. The study that I noted from Harvard talks about quitting smoking and losing weight, where it's easier to do in groups with the support of others in the same boat. I believe this is a great way to achieve change.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Tonny Thanks for stopping by. I know that addiction isn't easy and it's a new ballgame when it comes to change. The study that I noted from Harvard talks about quitting smoking and losing weight, where it's easier to do in groups with the support of others in the same boat. I believe this is a great way to achieve change.

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