WHO NEEDS CHANGE?

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.

~ Confucius

Confucius was an ancient Chinese teacher and philosopher who pre-dated Christianity by five centuries. He is one of the most influential and quoted thinkers of all time. In this quote, he teaches us about change. He likely wasn’t the first great thinker to discuss this topic and he certainly won’t be the last. One might conclude, from the plethora of statements and essays about the reality of change, that people just aren’t getting the message. Or is it a message that people would rather not hear?

I don’t think change is particularly easy for anyone – when it is imposed upon us. This is totally understandable because a change will take us out of our comfort zone. Our comfort zone makes us feel secure: familiar surroundings, people and living processes. Security is important because it means the absence of fear and tension. The logical conclusion is that staying in our comfort zone will make us feel happy and fulfilled. Right?

However, it is a different story when we initiate change ourselves, because it feels exciting to embark upon a journey that we believe will deliver a positive result. Although I don’t wake up each day with a burning desire to make changes, I have always sought ways to improve the way I do things – in my classroom when I taught and in performing tasks at home. Those types of changes are easily embraced because I believed there was something to gain. My decision. My choice. When change was imposed upon me by a higher authority, my instinctive reaction was, and still is, to question it.

Confucius seems to be saying that staying within our comfort zones will not lead us to happiness and wisdom. I believe that he is speaking about personal growth. Living is about making choices and decisions as we operate within the world around us. No one lives in a vacuum – and sticking our head in the sand to hide from the world is clearly not the answer.

As we do this living, are we making good choices? Do I live better today than I did six months ago? Am I living according to the beliefs and values I espouse? Do I genuinely act for the benefit of others, or is my real agenda to fulfill my own needs, first and foremost? None of these questions have easy answers, but I believe that we need to address them on a regular basis if we are to grow.

Every living organism needs to grow in order to maintain life. A plant or animal that is not nourished will wither and die. Human beings are spiritual beings and our inner life must be nourished just the same as our physical bodies. That kind of growth depends heavily on gathering information, assessing its value and putting new learning into practice. This takes effort and time, but there is one more important ingredient.

In order to internalize the teaching of Confucius, we must adopt an attitude that is conducive to personal learning and growth. If all we care about is our creature comforts and staying safe inside our comfort zone, then we will, metaphorically, bury our heads in the sand. If I embrace my spirituality and hold it dear and precious, I will do what is necessary to grow. This kind of growth means change – and it may be just as uncomfortable as getting off the couch to do physical exercise to which I am not accustomed.

Confucius takes us by the hand and leads us to the truth. If we truly want happiness – to be content and at peace – then we must change. This growth will allow us to gain wisdom – understanding our lives within the context of the world at large. I believe it is very difficult to deal effectively with the people who come into our lives, if we are not at peace. The inner turmoil will boil over and make itself visible. That will taint our relationships with others in a way that will not lead to happiness or wisdom. We need to invest our time and energy inward, each and every day of our lives.

 

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Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

21 thoughts on “WHO NEEDS CHANGE?”

  1. John, I found this blog to be so fitting and appropriate for me. Being a fairly new retiree, I realize and appreciate the fact that change needs to become a new habit. I find it very hard to change my daily routine and some old habits that are no longer beneficial that I am now retired. When I choose to make a change I find it very rewarding and I know that it makes me a better person spiritually and who I am. Thanks for this wonderful blog. Your American Friend, Frank

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    1. Thanks for visiting today and sharing your thoughts, Frank. We all have our own stories and challenges, but we also share that in common – we all need to change in order to continue to grow as we live our lives. I wish you tomorrows that are better than your yesterdays, good friend! I appreciate your kind words and your support!

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  2. This is a great blog John. It is so true that we get so comfortable and often fight change because it seems so difficult. Lot of thought here … that we must keep moving in order to be happy or we get stuck with our heads in the sand . Great blog… and well said.
    Your wife Anne

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  3. My! – he knew a thing or two that ole Chinese guy!
    Nothing in this universe stands still, macro or micro. Not even the eye of the hurricane, Think of living in a world where nothing changes. How boring would that be! To refuse to change is to reject growth. There’s all sorts of lessons in this quote and hardly any that are negative. Thanks for sharing with us, John.

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  4. Confucius also said that you cannot open a book without learning something and the same can be said of your postings Brother John. Look within Grasshopper. Brother Richard

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  5. We are funny creatures, aren’t we? On one hand, we crave stability and on the other hand, we want to travel/experience/see that which we have not. I so agree that change is part of who we are, but I also think some of us were born with an extra “change”-gene! ♥

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    1. We certainly are, Gwen. The miracle is that no two of us are identical, and yet, we share so much in common. Interesting concept: “extra change gene”… food for thought! Thanks for your support and your input!

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  6. Hi,
    Excellent article about change. I am not familiar with Confucious thoughts about change but I have read other people’s thoughts, and I know change is inevitable if we want to out our destiny. Change is also painful because it means letting go as well as standing up as we live out what we believe. Recently, I’ve learned that change means being able to say NO and not feel guilty. So thank you for sharing.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Patricia

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  7. John F., change is in-evitable! As long as we were born, grow into all stages of life, and die…All that is change that we cannot control or stop. I accept and embrace change. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Joy. I agree that some change is inevitable, but the inner, substantial change, is that which we choose to make ourselves. There are a lot of elderly “children” in this world because they steadfastly refused to grow. I appreciate your support and your thoughts!

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  8. John, did you write this blog piece just for me? This came to me just when I needed it most! Doing the right thing is a struggle, at times. I pray and pray that God gives me the “strength” to always be the bigger person, to let things that people say or do, roll off my shoulders, and to always do and be that, which I want my daughters to do and become.

    When people offer up excuses for not making it to our monthly book club discussions at Rave Reviews Book Club, I say: “People make time for what is important to them.” I know I’m EXTREMELY busy, yet I make the time to attend. Not because I’m the President, but because I want to show my support to my fellow club members. The same is said for either taking the high road and doing the right thing, being the bigger person, or taking the low road, the easy road, and being common.

    Thanks, John, for reminding me of who I am. I have a personal quote that says: “I am greater than any transgression performed against me.” And you know what, I am. Thank you, Universe, for the reminder!

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    1. Yes, I did, Nonnie… and for me too. We are works in progress and need reminders – whether they be from antiquity or from contemporary thinkers. I’m pleased you found this reflection meaningful and helpful. I appreciate your support and this eloquent discussion starter!

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