About 25 years ago I lost my father to cancer. While he’d been sick for a while, losing a parent is something that nobody can truly understand unless they’ve gone through a similar loss. Before he passed away, my wife and I took him down to Atlantic City, one of his favorite places. We went down in April, in the hopes that it would be quiet and calm. It was! But along with the quiet, were temps in the mid-’40s and winds in the 20-30 mile an hour range. As we were walking on the boardwalk, I could see he was having trouble moving. I asked him, “dad, do you want to go back?” He said, “no, I’m so grateful for both of you taking me here!” To this day, I always remember that day. It was a moment that I believe changed me for the better.
Making a significant change in our lives is one of the most daunting tasks we can take on. Whether it’s related to our health and wellness, always a huge one. Or, something much more intrinsic, like our overall outlook on life. In my opening paragraph with my father, the change was how I viewed being grateful and keeping an open mind. Before he passed away, I wouldn’t say that I wasn’t grateful or didn’t care. I’d like to think I’ve always loved teaching and have been a positive person. But again, this time was different.
So how do we make a change in our lives? That’s been written about hundreds of times, with many self-help books and Ted Talks. Both are really valuable, and I strongly suggest taking advantage of them if you get the chance. While I won’t delve too deep into the topic, below are a few ways that may be helpful. As always, I welcome your feedback and hope you find the words useful.
For me, the initial reason for the change was realizing that I’d actually taken for granted my father and all of the positive things he did in life, and all that he stood for. Your reason will be different, but we generally do need a reason for the change to happen. Think again about all those people who get on a fitness and diet kick. Those reasons are usually obvious to see and usually fail for more reasons than I can list in this writing. But changing our attitudes is much more complex. We’ve often built traits and quirks over many years, and as the old saying goes, “it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks!” But it isn’t impossible!
I’ve longed believed that the 1st step to change and the most important is knowing “why” it’s important to us. Again, I’ll relate back to wellness. One of my friends recently had a heart attack. His “why” seems pretty simple, “he wants to see his children grow up!” When our “why” isn’t a life or death choice, but rather how we live our lives, it’s paramount to reflect on that “why” and take stock into how implementing it will help us, and maybe those around us. As another example, if your change revolves around listening more intently, the “why” could be that we view the opinions of others, their happiness, and desire to be heard as a key to our own growth. Once you know your “why” it makes taking on the next step much more attainable.
When I help people with fitness and wellness, there are many consistent messages that I’m hoping they understand. Step number two in the change process is realizing that it won’t be smooth sailing all the time. No matter what you’re trying to change, habits are hard to break even if you think they will be easy. Whether it’s listening, as I listed above, or a multitude of other changes. We must be patient and persistent with our desire for change to be lasting and permanent.
As a person who has exercised for 40 years, it’s part of who I am. With that said, I’ve gone weeks without exercising seriously, maybe even a few months. But I’ve always gotten back to what I love. My final step for this post is to never stop moving forward. You don’t necessarily have to have a full tank of gas all the time, but you will have to fill it up on occasion. Even the most steadfast of individuals have to recharge their engine before the car (their body or mind) breaks down.
Here is a final quote to ponder – “change doesn’t have to be something to fear, but rather a chance to embrace the positive change that it has on our lives and those around us!”