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Changing in the New Year

What's going on, Steve?

Have you ever noticed that your Facebook "Status" page is always asking you this question, "What's happening?" Or, "What's going on...?"

Here's what's happening: CHANGE! Little changes. Big changes. Minor ones. Major ones. This will be a year of change -- and some of it big -- for many of you reading this. Maybe, me too. Who knows?

We don't.

What I do know is that there are various ways I typically respond to change. Maybe it's the same for you.

Sometimes, I welcome change. A new job. A new client. An unexpected job opportunity appears. A few pounds are lost. A new me emerges altogether. The list is endless.

Mostly, however, when it comes to change, I resist it. Or worse, I pretend it isn't happening.

Over the years I've learned a couple of important things about change. You can take these to the bank, deposit them in an account called "life experience," and know that, by trusting them to work, you can expect to earn a lifetime of positive dividends.

1. When the pain of being the same is greater than the pain of being different, you will change. I do not remember who said this, but I know it is true.

My stepfather, for example, was a heavy smoker for years. One day, in his 50s, he had a heart attack, followed by by-pass surgery. One day, near the end of his recovery, the surgeon said to him, "You keep smoking and you'll be dead in less than five years." In an instant, after nearly 50 years of heavy smoking, he gave it up. He went on to live more than 20 years longer.

When the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of changing, you WILL change. You can apply this truth to almost anything. When the pain of remaining in a bad marriage becomes greater than the pain of public opinion, you will end it. That is, you will change.

I've learned something else about change.

2. The world as we know it (and that includes your world as you are experiencing it) is largely the product of our thinking. Since that is true, the world will not change -- nor will yours -- without changing our thinking. So said Albert Einstein.

This truth, too, will apply to almost anything.

For example, we're not likely to change the rapidly growing disparity between the rich and the poor until we change our thinking about poverty and why it is.

We're not likely to change the damages of global warming on our planet until we change our thinking about pollution, about greenhouse gases, and about rampant consumerism, the engine that drives both of these.

Furthermore, we're not likely to change the random and indiscriminate acts of violence we experience all too frequently across this country until we change our thinking about guns, gun laws and second amendment rights.

You've heard of the "law of attraction?" This may be the most universally misunderstood and, certainly, universally misapplied law. At its core, however, is a very simple truth and one toward which Einstein's statement points: You and I typically attract into our lives what we think about daily.

In other words, if you think you'll fail, why would you be surprised when you do?

If you think you suck, that you're not worthy of love, why would you complain when others treat you disrespectfully? Don't we teach others how to treat us? Try treating yourself the way you wish yourself to be treated. Then, observe the results.

Do not push this 'law of attraction' to its limits because, like any law, it has its limits in application. Victims of violence, for example, are hardly "thinking violent thoughts" when violence disrupts their life. Or, ends it, as in recent Newtown tragedy. But, you can appreciate the law for the truth it reveals.

At the outset of this new year, remember this, in the words of many a wise person: "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." Including YOU!

Dr. Steve McSwain is an author, speaker, thought leader and spiritual teacher. His books and blogs inspire spiritual seekers around the world. He is a devoted follower of Christ but an interfaith activist as well. He is frequently heard to say, in the words of Mother Teresa, "I love all religions; but I'm IN LOVE with my own." Read more from Dr. McSwain on his blog Your Best Life Ever.

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