If you’re not changing, you’re not growing. If you’re not growing, you’re not being intelligent. Humans thrive in change and expansion — yet there can be so many internal or external blocks to change.
Trying to keep things as they are is a very unhealthy approach to life. Avoiding change reflects a misunderstanding of the human condition and human flourishing. Change is not to be avoided, but embraced. Said Winston Churchill:
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
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How much have you changed in the past 12 months?
How much have you changed in the past 5 years (60 months)?
What new challenges are you taking on?
What new books have you read that have completely changed your paradigm?
What new relationships and experiences have opened you to new worlds of possibilities?
What suppressed pain and trauma have you freed yourself from?
What bad habits have you finally given up?
What relationships have you healed or let go of?
What addictions are still stopping you from living your dreams?
What roles or “personality” are you still clinging to?
The extreme importance of the parent-child connection
“The parent-child connection is the most powerful mental health intervention known to mankind.” — Bessel van der Kolk
In the profound and life-changing book, The Body Keeps The Score, Bessel van der Kolk M.D. explains that suppressed emotions and trauma lead people to unhealthy and addictive cycles.
One of the most fundamental components of making positive change in your life is developing a healthy relationship with your parents — whether they are alive or not.
All parent-child relationships have some form of baggage because no parent is perfect. Every parent has their own problems and through those problems they raise their kids.
It is then the kid’s responsibility to eventually evolve beyond the deficiencies of their parents. Any good parent would want this for their children: to go beyond where they themselves were.
Parents must be fully forgiven and viewed in a loving, appreciative, and honorable light. No matter how flawed. This doesn’t mean you must maintain a “relationship” if your parents are heavily abusive or toxic, as is the case of my three recently adopted children. However, if you neglect that relationship and can’t openly discuss it, it will come back to you later in life. Even if just at the emotional-level, this relationship is very important to your ability to make desired transformations.
Your relationship with your own body (and food)
“When a man makes his thoughts pure, he no longer desires impure food.” — James Allen
Does your body control you, or do you control your body? For most people, the body is completely in control. Want a gut-check about whether you’re in control or if your body is?
- How often do you impulsively check your smart-phone?
- How often do you impulsively eat or put other substances in your body?
- How is your ability to focus for long periods of time?
- How in-tune are you with your own intuition?
- How much time do you spend thinking about your physical appearance?
- How much time do you spend worrying about the opinions of others?
If you don’t control your body, then you can’t control your mind.
If you don’t control your body, then you can’t control your time.
If you don’t control your body, then you’re life is far more impulsive and out-of-control than you realize.
“If the spirit yields to the body, it becomes corrupt; but if the body yields to the spirit it becomes pure and holy.” — Brigham Young
One of the most basic and well-tested methods for regaining control of your mind and body is through fasting. There are many different forms, such as water fasting where you only drink water and don’t consume food of any kind for a period of time (often 1–3 days). There’s juice fasting and bone broth fasting (often 1–10 days) where you only consume liquids for a period of time to allow your digestive system to rest, recover, and reset.
You can also fast from technology — something most people haven’t done since the internet.
You’ll also want to fast from routine environments. Most of your triggers and memories — and thus identity — are tied to places and environments. When you get out and see new things, you open yourself to new insights and experiences which open you up.
While fasting, you’ll begin to get a ton of insight. You’ll start to realize how reactive you’ve been to the environment. You’ll start to notice how off you’ve been. You’ll then have more clarity and capability to shift your life in a positive direction.
Education through reading and experience
“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” — Charlie Tremendous Jones
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” — Nelson Mandela
“Where is the life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” — T.S. Elliot
In a powerful lecture on how our brains change through experience, Neuroscientist Dr. Dafna Shohamy explains that our brains assimilate information for the purpose of prediction.
Being able to predict how our behavior will lead to outcomes is one of the most important goals of our brains. For example, when you touch the stove as a child, you experience what is known as a “prediction error” — which according to Dr. Shohamy is a learning signal to update your expectations for the next time.
Prediction errors are exactly what you want to experience more of … if you want a lifetime of growth.
This is why failure is such a key part of success. Failure is what occurs when you incorrectly predict how things will go based on your limited knowledge. Because you experience failure or prediction error, you can then update your expectations and strategies for the next attempt.
This is what growth and innovation are all about. Thomas Edison embraced prediction error. He embraced his own mental and experiential boundaries. He was willing to fail over and over and over because for him — failure was about learning. It was about changing and expanding himself. To quote Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
Thomas Edison had to update and refine himself constantly to become the man he became. His failures and experiences transformed to wisdom and understanding. Intelligence is applied understanding. It’s far more powerful than base knowledge. There are lots of people who have information in their heads. But wisdom and intelligence is the proper application of knowledge.
Interestingly, there is lots of research showing that as people age, they generally become LESS open to education. They become LESS open to new experiences.
As people get older, they really want their lives to be predictable. In order to keep their lives predictable, they don’t embrace new information, new experiences, new challenges, new relationships. Their life increasingly becomes an echo-chamber.
If you’re not proactively seeking new experiences and learning new information, you’re stuck. If you’re stuck, you’re not growing and changing. And if you’re not changing, then you’re not intelligent. As C. JoyBell C. put it:
“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”
Change yourself and you’ll change the world
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” — Rumi
“Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become.” — Jim Rohn
If you’re not changing yourself, then you’re not intelligent.
If you’re seeking external success without changing who you are, then you’re delusional.
If you’re trying to make a powerful change in the world without changing yourself, then you’re simply trying to force the world into your box.
When you begin changing yourself, you’ll be equipped to change the world.
If you seek to change the world, you’ll be required to change yourself.
If you’re truly committed to something or someone, you’ll be required to become whatever that commitment entails.
If you sufficiently transform yourself, you won’t be able to stop yourself from helping others positively transform as well.
Changed people change the world. They light a fire in others because they are on fire themselves.
Measure the gain instead of the gap!
“The way to measure your progress is backward against where you started, not against your ideal.” — Dan Sullivan, THE GAIN AND THE GAP
How much have you changed in the past 12 months?
How much have you changed in the past 5 years?
According to Strategic Coach founder, Dan Sullivan, it’s far more powerful to measure the gains you’ve made than the gap in front of you.
If you look back on the past 1–5 years and truly consider how much you’ve grown and changed, you’ll be stunned.
If you’re proactively seeking change and transformation, you’ve probably made HUGE changes. You can actually make enormous change in yourself in a relatively small period of time.
1–5 years is a short period of time. In that amount of time, you can go from making almost nothing to making millions of dollars. You can go from being single and having no kids to being married and having three kids with two on the way (that’s what happened to me!).
If you’re not growing, you’re not changing. If you’re not changing, then you’re not intelligent.
It’s very important that you take time to examine and measure where you are from where you’ve been. When you do this, there are a host of psychological benefits.
For example, measuring your progress injects enormous amounts of gratitude and appreciation into your life. Gratitude is one of the most powerful psychological experiences and relates to improvements in all areas of life.
When you measure your progress, you grow in confidence because confidence is a byproduct of past experience.
According to Sullivan:
Your future growth and progress are now based in your understanding about the difference between the two ways in which you can measure yourself: against the ideal, which puts you in what I call “The Gap,” and against your starting point, which puts you in “The Gain,” appreciating all that you’ve accomplished.
When you’re in The Gap, you feel as though you haven’t accomplished anything at all. This is because even though you’ve moved forward, the ideal remains distant from you. The ideal is a moving target. It might even get bigger, leaving you worse off than where you started if you measure against it. You’ve also used up time and energy getting to where you are, so if you don’t measure the progress, you’ll feel like you’ve wasted that time and energy and have fallen even further behind.
But if you turn around and measure your progress against where you started, then you’re in The Gain, and you’ll experience a sense of having moved forward, of having achieved something, and you’ll be motivated to continue on to your next stage of growth.
Are you intelligent and changing?
Or are you unintelligent and staying the same?
Are you being transformed through new experiences?
Are you being transformed by taking on new roles?
Are you being changed as you grow into powerful goals?
Do you have a vision and a mission that compels you to become far more than you currently are?
Make a change today. The moment you even make a small change in the right direction, you’ll begin to experience a flood of motivation, energy, and momentum.
As you continue to change, your mind will expand allowing greater insights and epiphanies to flow.
This life is a classroom. If you’re not learning, growing, and changing, then you’re missing the point.
Ready to upgrade?
I’ve created a cheat sheet for putting yourself into a PEAK-STATE, immediately. You follow this daily, your life will change very quickly.
This post first appeared on Medium.