When most people say they want to change, what they mean is they want to act in ways that they think will advance their life toward more enjoyment and less toil or trouble. So if they can quit smoking, their health will improve and they’ll get more time with the grandchildren. Or if they calm their temper down they’ll hold their beloved marriage together. Or if they can just focus a little more at work they can impress the boss and earn that coveted promotion. So that’s why they want to change. Millions of reasons like that.
The tricky part is that we have to beware of desires that are ego driven be that through gaining wealth or status or power. If your aim is to be “above” everyone else, then there’s no healthy way to do that. You can’t have an egoic pursuit done in a spiritual way. You can accept certain goals in the understanding that you live in a world ruled by ego, but you can’t actually subscribe to those values because those two worlds are mutually exclusive.
You can’t live spiritually and value egotistical gains. So we’re not talking about you changing by moving “up” relative to other people (although that may be a relative byproduct of you following your nature). We’re talking about you finding the ideal place for you to manifest the biggest, grandest, most capable and satisfying version of you that exists. Because a good life isn’t defined by what you own or how your lovers look or any other external thing. Your life is an experience. What counts is, how good are your experiences on average? Are you satisfied with how your own life tastes? Because an ugly decanter can still hold the world’s finest wine.
If you feel the tug to change that feels less like guilt and more like an aspiration, then that’s the kind of changing you can productively engage in. Changes that are dictated by your nature. Changes that you are naturally motivated to make. Changes that feel like they make you bigger.
Life is a verb. Even if you live past the national average it’s over in a blink. The longer you live the shorter life seems. So the point isn’t to get it right because there is no such thing as right. Because that guy? The one who dates the exciting girlfriend who’s gorgeous? And she thinks he’s the greatest guy that’s ever existed? And they barely argue and even when they do they have fantastic make-up sex? Those people might make their living by politely robbing banks with guns. You want to say that a person like that doesn’t get a good life because of the bank robbing, but I’m sorry to report that that is not how the universe actually works. If you’re in Bonnie and Clyde Jr.’s life, it’s exciting and fun and free and that’s why—despite their social transgressions—these people often become folk heroes. In a way we envy their freedom—their total disregard for all the damn rules.
As illegal and morally challenging as their behaviour might be, they cannot be said to be leaving their lives unlived. Most in the 1st world can’t say this though. Most die with loads of regrets. A few about things they’ve done. But far more about things they never even tried. You don’t have to rob banks. Try singing in public. Or asking someone out on a date. It’s crazy how timid you are about pursuing your dreams. But whatever you do, don’t waste your existence chasing things you lose when you die. Invest that life energy into weaving your own life experiences into the infinite fabric of the universe.
Stop trying to change into someone else who does different things. Instead, become your fully realized self and then see how you act. The lives you admire aren’t perfect. They’re just authentic. So if you realize your authentic self, you might find that version of you needs a lot fewer changes than you might currently imagine.
Now go live a bold and interesting life. You might as well. Because no matter what you choose, the worst that can happen is a bold or interesting experience. So you win either way.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.