how can I change my life change thermostat?

Creative Commons license courtesy Heartlover1717

Creative Commons license courtesy Heartlover1717

Life happens.

I react or respond.

I’ve been thinking lately that some aspects of my life are like setting a thermostat. No matter what I do (or don’t do) or what happens (or doesn’t happen), it seems that I keep returning to the same level. That applies to finance, my weight, and I’m sure other aspects.

A simple thermostat works with a sensor detecting heat or cold. When the temperature gets above or below the pre-set temperature, then the appropriate action kicks in: the furnace or air conditioner as appropriate.

Okay, there’s a little more to it, as many thermostats have a little delay built into them so they don’t rapidlly cycle on and off. After all, too-frequent little changes can be hard on a furnace and also annoy the inhabitants.

If the thermostat analogy holds, then it seems as if four aspects would affect how I can change my internal thermostat.

Clear Observation

If I can notice the change more clearly, without fooling myself, then I can make changes based on accuracy. That means not getting caught up in denial, getting tweaked that things are different than I expect, and otherwise simply accepting things as they are.

Earlier Observation

It seems logical that the sooner I notice that something needs change, the more likely it will be that I can act in time to make a difference or to be able to make the change with the least effort. The opposite seems true – to wait too long and then find it more difficult to change things.

Acting More Efficiently

It’s not enough to notice a change needs to be made and notice it in time. It’s also important to know what to do.

Being Willing to Change

It’s not enough to quickly notice what needs changing and knowing what to do; to make the change I need to take action.

There’s a prayer I’ve heard quoted often which addresses many of these four elements:

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things that I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.

– attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, and called the Serenity Prayer

This prayer emphasizes that acceptance of things as they are is one of the first steps toward change. Getting stuck in denial or fantasy doesn’t help knowing what is best to change, when to change, or how to change.

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