We’ve all heard it at least once. Uttered by a friend or family member, encouraging us or consoling us, telling us that change is good. But is change actually always good? I’ve been a great advocator for change and my life is a shining example of this, and it is for this reason that I can confidently say that change is not always good.
Just ask the man with 3 kids who just lost his job, his wife, or both. Ask the kid who lost a leg or your neighbors who lost their homes in a flood. Some might answer that God works in mysterious ways. Another one of those flat-out absurd quotes that have been bouncing around far too long. I understand that in times of need people seek hope, but what good can it possibly do to believe that there is an entity up in the sky that has a plan cut out for each of us, and no matter how twisted and torturous this plan might be, it will magically all be ok in the end. Parents that have lost young children might not be so easily soothed by God’s mysterious ways.
What prompted me to write this article was the avalanche of pretty quote posts on social media. Have people become tired or are they simply at loss for their own words? These quotes are often overly simplified sentiments being presented out of context, such as ‘Change Is Always Good’. We live in an age where quotes are being slung at us left and right as some sort of medicine or special mantra that will magically dispel our strife and suffering.
Quotes can be inspirational, however, simply because a famous author or popular public figure might have once stirred the hearts and minds of people, with an eloquent and touching phrase, does not turn those words into a talisman. Quotes online come in categories such as Stay True, Be Real, Stay Simple, and I Don’t Care quotes, to name but a measly few. We’ve got hashtags for the quote of the hour, the quote of the day, the quote of the week, and the month.
In my opinion, the internet has turned many people into self-proclaimed philosophers and counselors. There are quote Gurus crawling out of every social media corner. I ask myself whether, before the internet, people were so strung out on quotes to live their lives by and do their bidding. The only quotes I ever came across were those I read in books and those passed on to me by my family, but those are an entirely different breed of quotes. My mother turns 85 this year and I’m having a T-Shirt printed with her lifelong favorite quote and mantra; La Vita è Una Fregatura which translates into Life is a Ripoff. You could say I inherited my pragmatic outlook from her.
Change is part of life, however, it is not always good. Distinguishing between self-induced change and change that is out of our control, such as natural disasters sweeping people’s homes and lives away, is a good start.
If you decide and choose to leave your job because you need a change and you know you can do better, as a supporting friend, I could say, change is always good, and in this instance, it would be ok, or I might be the kind of friend that tells you to think it through, maybe find another job before quitting, and since you’re already behind on your mortgage and one more missed payment might mean losing your home, you stop to think about it.
On the other hand, if you lost your job quite unexpectedly and not only were you not prepared, you actually loved your job and were distraught at the prospects that lay ahead, especially since you happen to be 59 years old, still don’t have enough years for a decent pension, and statistics indicate that your chances of getting hired at 59 are slim or next to none, then, as a good friend, I would commiserate with you and I would probably say life is a ripoff.
Difficult times can teach us how to take a negative situation and turn it to our advantage. If so, then the question is not so much whether change is always good, it should be whether change makes us into better or stronger persons. If a man loses his job and his reaction is to shower his colleagues and employer with a spray of bullets, has the change done him good? Our reaction and response to change are the keys to whether or not we can make the leap to a better version of ourselves, despite difficult and unexpected changes.
Some thrive on change whereas others will do just about anything to resist it. Small changes can translate into big successes, such as a new diet and fitness routine or quitting cigarettes. These self-imposed changes are aimed at self-improvement and even these can at times lead to disasters, such as fad diets that create vicious cycles and no weight loss, or botched esthetic treatments. Change needs to be addressed with thoughtfulness and consideration for the fallout and probable outcome, whether it’s happening to us or we are making it happen.
Changes can make us feel assertive and in control of our lives, but change for the sake of change is a risky endeavor because no matter how much we prefer to have things go according to our terms, plans can backfire.
I’ve made many changes throughout my life, moved and relocated to different cities, countries, and continents, and I have made several major career changes along the way, all orchestrated by me. Over the years, pondering over my life I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like had I not left a certain place, friends, or job and I’ve often asked myself whether change is actually always good. It would be pure speculation for me to think that had I done A instead of B, I might now be happier, wealthier, more successful, or a better person, but it often nags at me.
Change is all about adapting and whether or not one anticipated the change in question. Take the pandemic for example. I won’t elucidate on that event, I’m sure you get the gist. Change teaches us to be resilient. We are constantly changing as we grow and age and I suspect that although aging is a gradual change that we all anticipate, many would gladly renounce it. This points to the idea that change isn’t inherently good or bad, it is simply inevitable. It takes courage and passion in life to overcome difficult changes and follow the burdensome path to becoming a better person.