Debra Lynn Dadd


Changing Our Lives,
Changing the World

A tiny change today brings us a dramatically different tomorrow.
- Richard Bach

Back in ancient times, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, "The only thing that is permanent is change." He seems to be right, as far as life is concerned. Life is changing all the time, in fact, life, is a continuous flow of change. We are changing all the time, too, either in response to the rest of life, or by our own origination as living beings.

As human beings, we each have the ability and power to change our own lives and change the world around us, for better or for worse. We have the ability to observe things as they are and decide we want to help them continue as they are because they sustain all life, or we want to do something to improve the situation. We may want to change things to improve our own lives, or the place or culture in which we live.

Actually, I've found that we each have an inherent inborn desire to change things for the better. We're not content to simply sit back and let life fall apart. Despite all the destruction in the world today, there is something within each of us that wants to sustain life and have health, harmony, and happiness, and continues to inspire us to move in that direction.

Regardless of what we want to change or why, the nature and process of change follows a very specific process.

First, there is the excitement of realization. It comes with an "I can do it!" feeling that gets you started. Next all the problems that are in the way of you making the change will come up to be handled. This is where a change will be easier or harder. A big change may have a lot of obstacles to overcome. Some changes occur with great ease. The change may involve making physical changes or changing minds or hearts or long-held beliefs. The change may require letting go of something old or building something new. If it seems too difficult, we give up. But that's exactly the point where you need to hold to the intent of your change. For if you can hold to your vision of what you want against that thought that it can't be done, you will have a breakthrough and success. But don't give up if it doesn't happen right away. Some changes take years.

This is not just true for humans. Even a seed goes through the same process to become a plant. Under the right conditions, the life potential in the seed awakens, it has to break out of its shell and push away the soil before it can open itself to the light of the sun and life.

Here are some tips that can make change of any kind easier and even fun!

1. Find the pleasure in the change

We naturally gravitate toward pleasure and pull away from pain, so if you want to make a change, do it for a pleasurable reason, or find pleasure in the change, and use that pleasure to follow through.

Though I originally decided to live in a nontoxic home for my health, I continue to live in a manner that is nontoxic, natural, and earthwise because it brings me pleasure. I prefer the taste of organic food and the feel of natural fibers against my skin. It just feels good to body, mind, and spirit to live harmoniously with nature.

Just now, as I was going through grueling hours of work to change the structure of my website, what got me through to the end was remembering that I was making this change to be able to both do my website and have time to do other things I love to do too.

So find the pleasure in the change you wish to make and that will carry you forward.

2. Have a clear idea of the change you want to make and hold fast to it

Whether you want to eliminate toxic chemicals from your home, protect the environment, or do something small but important like start and continue a regular exercise program, you can only make the change by knowing what the end result looks like. This may not be clear at first, but if you start moving in a clear direction, you'll get ideas.

Let's say the change you want to make is to have a nontoxic home. Keep that vision and measure every decision against it. As you keep looking for things for your home that are nontoxic, you will find them.

3. Decide you can do it

Recently I needed to get a new computer. My old computer simply couldn't handle the new technology needed to make my websites the way I wanted them.

This required moving from the operating system OS9 on my old computer to OSX on my new computer. They are so different that I had to completely relearn how to operate a computer! I actually had put off making this switch for years because I knew they were so different, and had this idea that it would be difficult, expensive, and time consuming and that I wouldn't be able to understand it.

Well, after experiencing just that difficulty for the first few days, I changed my mind. I just decided I could do it, and then I could. I started solving problems instead of being stopped by them. That decision "I can do it" opens the door.

4. Expect the unexpected

When you set out to make a change with an intention of good improvement, things will happen. You will lose things that don't belong in your life any more. New opportunities will open up. Even though it may be difficult to let go, I've found if I just keep focused on the end result I want, I am able to see that I didn't really need the old things any more and recognize the new things when I see them. And the faster I am willing to clear away the old, the faster the new comes in.

As you change your diet to one of more healthful foods, for example, you may need to give up your favorite sugary junk foods, but you may find that you like the desserts made with healthier sweeteners even better.

5. Remember why you wanted to make the change in the first place

There's always a reason for every change we make, something that satisfies us emotionally that leads us to make the physical changes. The reason for eliminating toxic chemicals from one's home, for instance, usually isn't to remove the chemicals--it's to have better health for oneself or one's family, or to have better health so you can climb a mountain, or whatever. When making the change starts getting tough, remember why you are making this change and forge ahead.

6. Break larger goals down into manageable pieces

When I got my new computer and began to transfer all my data and programs, I found that some programs needed to be replaced because they were incompatible with the new operating system and many of my data files wouldn't open. On top of all this, the new operating system was completely different from anything I had ever used and I had to learn it as if I had never used a computer before.

The way out of all this confusion was to just find one thing I could look at about this whole mess. It turned out that I could look at one tiny piece of software that wasn't working and find out how much it would cost to replace it. Turned out to be $30. I could do that. I found the upgraded software, downloaded it, installed it, and got it to work.

From there I was able to start making a list of everything that needed to work in the end, what was not working about it, and a step I thought I could take to get it to work. In this way, step-by-step, I was able to take this big new thing I didn't understand and make some sense of it and operate it.

7. Identify the process, write out your plan, and check off the steps so you can see your progress

Earlier in my life, I just would "follow my nose" through doing things. That sometimes gave me results, and sometimes didn't. Now that I'm older and wiser, I've learned the value of planning a change.

My husband and I like to work on home improvement projects together. So we talk about them first, write out what we want our end result to be (and often draw pictures of the end result), make a list of steps and put them in the proper sequence, and set a projected time line. This simple procedure really keeps us on track, and still leaves lots of room for spontaneous ideas and opportunities that come up on the way.

Planning in advance, you can just move from step to step.

8. Remember that it is darkest before the dawn

Change can be tough. We get everything set up to run smoothly in our lives and then we find we need to change for some reason or another and we have to create those smooth conditions all over again.

There generally is a point in every change where everything gets stuck. It looks like you can't do it. The situation may seem impossible or hopeless. That is just the point where you have to hang in there and not give up. And if you do hang in there with your intention to create this positive change in your life, I promise you, it will occur. The door will open. I also promise you that your desired change will not occur if you give up. This doesn't mean to push through doing what you are doing if it isn't working. You're not going to arrive in California if you are on the road to New York. But if what you want is to go to California, holding your intent to get to California will eventually put you on the right road and you will arrive.

9. Learn new skills

I think most changes require learning a new skill of some sort, and that can be frustrating. You're good at doing the old familiar thing, and now you have to go through the whole learning curve again. It may be a small thing, like learning a new piece of software, or a big thing, like learning to cook from fresh foods instead of opening cans or pickup up take-out for dinner.

I find it easier to get through this if I anticipate I am going to need to learn a new skill and enjoy the process of gaining new knowledge.

I've learned that if I get to the point where I don't understand something, one of three things will get me through.

First, I look to see if there is a word I didn't understand. New subjects are often filled with new words. Once I learn the vocabulary, it's a lot easier to learn the skill.

Then I look to see if I missed understanding an earlier step. In learning this new computer system, I found that I was trying to jump to installing programs before I became acquainted with the basic operating system. When I went back and just followed the "new user" instructions, it all began to make sense.

And, get your hands in it! Read the manual, but actually follow the tutorial or make the recipe or plant the seeds. Nothing is a better teacher than the actual physical experience.

10. Find out what you need to know

Be nosy! If you think you can't do something, you probably need more information. Good information is all over the place, much of it free on the Internet. Businesses have free hotlines you can call. Ask knowledgeable friends and family members for help.

11. Explore new options

My husband and I like to "go adventuring" and find out everything we can about a subject. It may be that the solution you need is as close as the corner store. Before the solution appeared that solved all my website inefficiency problems, I had to go talk to people about it and find out about new computer technologies.

12. Use your creative imagination

Changes in our own lives and in our society occur because we have ideas that are "out of the box" of our lives and culture. Where mass marketers are guided by what consumers spend their dollars on, some of us are guided by what we can imagine would be a better way to live.

So if you are in the middle of a change you have already imagined that you want, get your imagination working again to bring it to fruition.

13. Connect with other like-minded people

For the past three years, since I moved to Florida, I've belonged to a great writer's group. We meet once a month, tell each other about our successful actions as writers, and read our writing to each other. Having the company and support of other writers has completely changed my idea of what it possible as a writer, and my idea of the role and function of a writer in the world. So surround yourself with helpful, supportive people who want to make the same kind of changes you want to make.

14. Have courage

If you are reading this article, I know you have the courage to make your own decisions and act on them to create the life that you want, rather than following what is standard in our society. I know it can be difficult to do this at times when it seems like everyone else is thinking and acting differently.

I am committed to guiding my life and work on principles that result in the flourishing of life, individually and collectively. I applaud you for seeking out this information and using it. As more and more of us have the courage to make changes for the better in our own lives, and spread information and encouragement, together we are changing the world.

I believe it to be perfectly possible for an individual to adopt the way of life of the future...without having to wait for others to do so. And if an individual can observe a certain rule of conduct, cannot a group of individuals do the same? Cannot whole groups of peoples whole nations? No one need wait for anyone else to adopt a humane and enlightened course of action.
- Gandhi