This afternoon I read a book that my dad lent to me. It’s called ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ by Spencer Johnson, M.D. It is a story about two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two Littlepeople, Hem and Haw, and how they each respond when someone moves their cheese. The point of the story is about change and how we respond to it. Do we rush into action on the next thing like Scurry? Do we cautiously venture into the next thing like Sniff? Do we spend time in fear and depression before we realize that we need to put aside our fears and move with the change like Haw? Or do we remain bitter toward the change, feeling we’ve been treated unfairly, and never move on like Hem?
I have always felt like I handle change quite well. I’ve learned to adapt to new situations and I am able to move with the change rather than fight against. It doesn’t mean I don’t grieve what I may have had before the change, but I generally haven’t let the fear of something different keep me from moving forward.
I owe my adaptability to my childhood. We moved around a lot so I had to be ok with change and new surroundings. It seems like every time I got comfortable somewhere, it was time to leave again. With the exception of when we left the Caribbean, I never wanted to move. But I had no choice, and I learned from my parents how to get settled into a new place, make new friends and start a new life. They were great examples of how to accept change and actively embrace it.
This provided me with both positive and negative qualities as I grew up. On the positive side, whenever someone ‘moved my cheese’, I was able to adjust to the change quickly and effectively and keep moving forward faster than most. On the negative side, if my life went too long without some change, I had a need to create it. I moved my own cheese before someone else had the chance to. That may have meant moving (which I did a lot when I lived in Toronto), making a new friend, ending a relationship, trying something different, or simply switching up my diet just so something was different.
It was almost as if I craved change. And that set me apart from most people. The majority of humans do not like change. They don’t like to be taken out of their comfort zone. Some don’t mind being challenged, but don’t make big changes because they won’t handle it well.
As I have gotten older, my cravings for a change or a ‘new cheese’ have lessened. I have become more like the rest of humanity where I like my comfort zone and want to remain in it.
And with my depression, I have developed a fear of change over the past few years. I never know what may trigger my depression since it has been the result of so many different situations over the years, so I now have a fear that any little change could trigger it.
But I am not interested in living in fear. Nor am I interested in needing to constantly change something and never being able to sit still. I want something in between.
I want to be able to move with it when my cheese moves and embrace the change. But I also want to be content with what I have when the cheese remains in one spot for a time.
Is this possible?
Can I let go of my fears in order to embrace new experiences, while at the same time be happy with where I am when there are no changes on the horizon?
I like to think I can.
I really like my life right now and I am very content in it. I am happy with my job, I have an amazing family, good friends, a great place to live, and I am healthy again.
But change is inevitable. For me. For you. Things are going to change, whether we want them to or not.
We can’t control what changes. We can’t control if we get laid off, or someone breaks up with us, or if a loved one gets sick. Changes in life are going to happen, and most of them will be out of our hands.
But we can choose how we respond to those changes. We can choose fear, which will leave us at a standstill as the rest of the world adapts. Or we can choose to move forward with the change.
What choice do we make?
Live in fear and misery wishing things were the way they used to be?
Or stepping into a new adventure and discovering the opportunity?
Despite my fears, I choose the new adventure. There are risks, yes, but I am moving toward the rewards, whatever they may be.
And while I am very content in my current life, that doesn’t mean there won’t be happiness when things change. Perhaps my joy will increase. The good may get better – I’ve experienced this happening before.
And even if it is not better, I fully believe change is a good thing. It helps us learn and grow. It stretches us beyond what we believe to be our capabilities and it allows us to surprise ourselves.
Change can bring both positive and negative results.
But it’s what we do with the change that matters.