The Courage to Change Series
Complete Guide to Inviting More Joy and Happiness into your Life
This is #Lesson 1 in a series of lessons that invite you to explore when and where it’s time for growth in your life. The series will offer lessons on the most common topics people ask me about in my work as a coach and provide insight and actions to implement with each lesson.
What Motivates Change
It’s been said many times that change happens for two reasons: either pain or pleasure. If you are in the category of change-making for pleasure and joy Congratulations! You are ahead of the majority of humanity! Most of us decide to change only when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.
We can learn to use pain and emotional suffering as indicators that something isn’t working well in our lives. Emotions come in a full rainbow spectrum and learning to assess when change is needed is easier when we begin to understand the “Happiness Spectrum.” The courage to take action usually follows clarity and understanding.
The Happiness Spectrum represents the full range of emotions with the left representing unhappiness/anger/despair and the right representing happiness, joy, and freedom. It’s not a straight line because life really isn’t linear! Each day we can learn to experience a full range of emotions and embrace joy and happiness at the same time. (more on that later!)
Take a moment to check out the happiness spectrum below. Understanding when change either — small or large is needed begins with recognizing where you are today on the following Happiness Spectrum: Does your overall life feel intense, heavy, and sad? Or fun, lighthearted, free, and joyful? Or maybe you fall right in the middle — some days or moments swinging towards the left and other days swinging toward the right.
There is no right or wrong. What you will learn throughout this Courage to Change series is that we can use this spectrum to assess how we are doing over a lifetime or a moment. It’s neither good nor bad — it just helps us understand where we are and gives us feedback on how our thoughts, choices, and actions are working out for us.
So, whether it’s a lifetime of unhappy situations that have piled up and are ready to erupt like a volcano, or you are testing the unlimited potential of your soul to create the happiness you are in the right place. This series of Courage to Change wisdom lessons will bring your new insight on how to live a life that moves you consistently toward the happiness end of the spectrum. You may want to read them all in order as they are released, or watch for the particular topic that is most on your mind right now.
What is change?
Now, let’s take a look at exactly what change means in this context. We use the word change in many different ways: change the laundry, get change from the cashier, change your attitude. So in many instances, the word change really means to swap, exchange, or replace.
That is NOT what we will be talking about here. Most likely, you have tried this method of increasing your happiness and found it doesn’t work!
Have you ever left a job because your boss irritated you only to discover at the new job the same boss with a different name was there?
Or maybe the new job is great…until the same irritating co-worker with a different name is hired.
Maybe living in a certain town or moving to a new one seemed the solution to the problems, until you discovered wherever you go…there are your problems!
I think you get the idea! Most likely your memory rolodex has already provided you some examples from your own life!
So let’s be clear. When I speak about creating change in your life… it is not to SWAP one set of problems for another.
So how are we defining change in this context?
What I mean by change is growth. Personal growth. It’s connecting with the greatness of who we are mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. It’s reconnecting with the wise soul that really is YOU and letting go of all the other stories, cultural stereotypes, and family judgments that molded you.
Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
This is the change I am referring to. It’s all about choosing to upgrade and grow how we interact with ourselves, the people in our lives, and the world around us.
The majority of your values, thoughts, mindset, habits, actions, are rooted in what you observed during your formative years of 0–7. It’s a time when a young child has no filter to distinguish whether what they are learning is helpful, unhelpful, or just plain not even true.
So, unless you have intentionally gone through a learning and growth process where you chose to upgrade the original programming of your mind, there is a good chance you are operating from this outdated limited perspective.
✏️ Grab a notebook or journal and use the knowledge you have about your early life. Jot down the things you may have seen, learned, and heard. Be curious — maybe even ask a parent, sibling, or relative about this time in your life to discover things you don’t remember. This isn’t about judging, it’s about understanding the programs that are running inside of us subconsciously and finding what is ready to be upgraded!
Consider for a moment — what was the telephone like that you talked on as a child? What was your first cell phone like? What capabilities does your current phone have that these did not have? Just as it wouldn’t make sense to stubbornly stick with using the original “bag cellular phone,” it doesn’t make sense for us to continue to operate from our original life programs. (Those programs honestly may not have worked very well for the people we learned them from!)
This leads us to our motivation for change. To upgrade our happiness, experiences, enjoyment, and freedom it’s necessary to replace our old operating system with new information, tools, techniques, and ways of showing up that reflect the person we truly desire to be today.
Why do we want to change? (but sometimes feel like it’s hard to find)
This analogy of the phones perfectly describes the upgrade, growth, and change that you will discover here. The operating systems we received as children were just that — a set of things we learned. As long as we continue to operate from worn-out patterns and systems that don’t function correctly, life will be glitchy!
If change and growth produce happiness then why isn’t everyone doing it?
In my own life, and working as a leadership and life coach I have observed one main reason that individuals don’t embrace change:
They do not think it’s possible for them. Maybe for someone else. But not for them. Maybe they “tried” something once and it didn’t work. Maybe they have even “tried” a lot of things and this has left them feeling hopeless. Resigned. This is my “cross” to bear as the old cultural beliefs would have us believe.
Yet, even though there is this sense of resignation to how things are — knowing lives and grows much deeper inside of us. Maybe it feels like a flower tight inside its bud that is bursting to bloom or a caterpillar that has cocooned long enough and is ready to become a beautiful butterfly.
There is this deep sense of inner knowing that there is more to life. And YES — there is SO much more to life.
That deep sense of knowing and hope is the seed of your spirit that knows exactly who you are in your true essence. An unlimited, brilliant, soul that has the ability to morph and grow into a person who moves through life with confidence, grace, joy, and freedom.
Each soul that lives on this earth has come for a purpose. As the wise author, Tosha Silver tells us: “There’s a Sanskrit term, “Parabdha Karma:” the lessons that someone came to learn in a given life. A Divine AGENDA that a soul comes to master far beyond what the ego could request or even imagine.”
Why do we want to change?
The purest simplest reason that we desire to change is that we believe it will make our lives happier.
The second reason is it’s your personal path to discovering and living the greatest potential of who you are. That’s that inner alarm clock going off inside of you saying there has to be something more to this life. If you are reading this it most likely means you are ready to stop snoozing the alarm!
The third reason that motivates change is powerful. It’s actually what got me started on my own personal upgrade journey. I wanted to be a role model to my kids that there was a different way to live that would break generational patterns to pieces.
Here’s the sticky part on reason number three. If your motive is to change someone else without doing your own work first… you will be sorely disappointed. This is called controlling not changing. The essence of this is what Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the Change you want to see in the world.” Role modeling a new way to others is powerful because it shows them that change IS possible because they see it in you! Without a map that points in a new way, we continue to follow an old map with no hope of change.
It’s my desire that these Courage to Change lessons act as the new roadmap for you so that you can begin enjoying a new sense of joy and freedom and shine your life brighter to light the path for others.
But….how does one know when it’s TIME for change?
How do we know it’s time for change?
Is it possible for me?
Just like when an app doesn’t work correctly, we know it’s time to find the updated version — that’s exactly how we know it’s time for change in our own life. So it’s time to look at where life feels “glitchy.”
✏️ Grab your notebook again and makes some notes on the following:
- What feels like it is going really well in your life right now? Notice things that seem effortless, bring you a lot of energy, and leave you looking forward to experiencing them again.
- What are the areas/things in your life that feel like they are just “there” that you are neutral about? They really evoke any emotion at all but yet they seem worthy to notice.
- Now, what feels “glitchy” to you? Notice the first few things that flash to your mind and jot them down. Then explore a bit further. What feels out of balance or like it’s rubbing sandpaper on your soul?
Using the issues or circumstances you noted above mark where you are at on the happiness spectrum with each item.
Here’s a simple truth! If something has been repeatedly causing you emotional pain and suffering then THAT is the indicator that it’s time for a change. The lessons ahead will help you decide exactly what change you choose. Here’s a word of caution on not tolerating pain too long.
A High Tolerance for Pain does not serve you!
Let’s take a moment to talk about a high tolerance for pain. It’s not a good thing! Our culture has conditioned us to “look the other way,” “don’t be a drama queen,” or the dreaded “quit being so sensitive.” At times we are guilted into tolerating the intolerable because of some old cultural-religious norm or ideology. These statements evoke a lot of judgment and usually keep us silent about what isn’t working in our lives. No doubt they were coined by people who didn’t have the emotional capacity to work through discomfort and uncertainty and it was easier to avoid it by shaming others.
It makes sense to us that a cancerous tumor needs attention, treatment, and time to heal and recover from. Yet, when it comes to unseen, not so easy to grasp emotionally painful issues, it’s culturally been ok to tolerate a high level of pain and pretend like ignoring it will make it go away.
It doesn’t and it won’t.
I learned this early in my career as a manager in the corporate world. I was young and inexperienced and did not know how to skillfully address employee issues. So I ignored them. Then, I noticed that I would get to a point where I was so irritated that I couldn’t stand it anymore and I’d harshly address the employee. This caused a lot of frustration to the employee and quite a bit of emotional drama and stress for me. Once I recognized this high tolerance for pain wasn’t working for me or in the best interest of my people, I developed a new way of dealing with things. I worked on my communication skills and my comfort with difficult conversations. Then, when I initially noticed a performance issue, I was able to bring it to the person’s attention, give them the direction on what needed to be done differently and set a time to follow up with them to evaluate the results.
You can imagine that the 2nd way of dealing with things worked out much better for me and the people that worked with me. I tell this story as a way of helping you understand
— if something is repeatedly coming into your awareness and causing you suffering, discomfort and unhappiness — THAT is the alarm clock going off asking you to wake up and grow.
I believe all situations in our life are there to act as teachers of needed life lessons. So, instead of avoiding those difficult areas, it’s time to look at them and ask what they are here to teach you.
When you learn that lesson change happens. It can’t NOT happen because when you make the choice to evolve, upgrade, and grow YOU become a new version of yourself.
I don’t know how to change.
The other question people get stuck on after how do I know it’s time for change, is I don’t know how to change. Really they are saying I really want to believe change is possible, and it might be for someone else…but I really don’t believe it is for me.
We all have a great capacity for change when we have a guide or guides to point us in a new direction. From there it’s just about learning to take new and different steps. A baby isn’t born running and we would not even expect that of a baby. So be gentle with yourself as you take baby steps in new directions. What once seemed impossible, now becomes possible with daily easy steps in a new direction. If it’s possible to be done and someone else has done it — it’s possible for you.
Then, you will look back and see how far you have grown. When the same situations arise you will respond to them differently which means a new outcome will follow. Most likely, you will notice that the old situations that caused you so much grief don’t even show up anymore.
So, are you ready? Have you tolerated pain and suffering in your life long enough? Are you ready to take the risk and believe that change IS possible for you?
I’m ready! — what next?
I’m so glad you asked!
This series was created as a guide to bring you awareness so that you can recognize where life is asking you to uplevel. It will provide opportunities and tools/exercises for you to work through and apply to real life. To support you in that change I suggest that you partner with other like-spirited individuals who also are seeking growth and change.
On my own journey of change, I have been surrounded by counselors, therapists, coaches, family, great friends, and annoying people, fears, and situations who became my greatest teachers. But without the support of those who were a few steps ahead, and the encouragement of others walking in the same direction — I would not be here writing this for you today. It is vital that you connect with others to inspire, encourage and most of all celebrate this journey of change!
As a starting place, I invite you to join my private Facebook community. Here you can connect with other like-spirited individuals who are also seeking to uplevel, enjoy life more, and are committed to the journey instead of the destination.
- We have learned that most people pursue change because of the emotional pain and suffering they are experiencing in life. Learning to evaluate how we are feeling using the Happiness Spectrum gives us the ability to assess what needs our attention at any moment.
- We also learned that change in this context does not mean swapping or trading one thing for another. Instead, it means growth, up-leveling. It’s like a cell phone upgrading its old glitchy apps for new versions that run smoothly and have enhanced features.
- We discovered that the majority of people don’t pursue change because they don’t feel it’s possible for them. However, we each have a seed of destiny that is growing inside urging us that we are meant for more than survival. In fact, we each have our own specially designed Prarabdha Karma which are the essential lessons we came to this earth to learn. Being a role model to others can also be a strong motivator for change.
- We learned that it’s time for change as soon as pain gets our attention. High tolerance for pain can leave us putting up with problems and situations in our lives that we have the capability to solve all along. So if something is repeatedly coming into your awareness and causing you suffering, discomfort and unhappiness — THAT is the alarm clock going off asking you to wake up and grow.
- If it’s possible for someone else, it’s possible for you.
- Join the Facebook Community to find other like-spirited individuals who also are seeking the Courage to Change.