Small changes are the best (most of the time)

Today, the Daily Prompt question is: You need to make a major change in your life. Do you make it all at once, cold turkey style, or incrementally? 

Oh man, I am definitely NOT the queen of big, fast changes.  Not. At. All.

At least, I think I’m not.  I am constantly craving change at a faster pace than it happens, but then I look back and realize, OK, so my life was pretty different a couple of years ago.  Still, I want more variety!  I’m constantly trying to find ways to fit change into my regular routine.  At least, I’m always trying to take a new course, or do a new activity.

I am the queen of ideas, sometimes making them happen and sometimes not.  Most of the time, I don’t have the time, money, heart or focus to make (bigger) changes happen fast, so they take a while by default.

Take school for instance.  I get free tuition (to an extent) but I also always work full time.   So I am obligated to take one course at a time, thereby taking forever to get the next certificate, diploma or degree.

One thing I’m bad at cold-turkeying (for better or worse– OK, mostly worse) is relationships.  A break-up should really be a straight up split – no talking, no contact, no nothing.  I get too flaky about this kind of thing, and wish I had more discipline.

I think that regular small changes are so important, though.  To use a somewhat trite example, a new hair cut /color can do wonders!  I’m not the queen of dramatic hair changes, but I like to make small ones regularly, and then once every few years do something a little drastic.

I’ve been waiting for that big leap-of-faith change for a while.  I’ve been craving a complete turnaround, wanting to make a move that’s spontaneous and crazy, surprise and inspire myself and everyone.  jump

Not just talk about it, but actually make the move.

Hopefully my capacity for this gets greater as I grow older.  I want to be braver and jump in with both feet more frequently.

But there is something to be said for taking the slower, more cautious route.  Creating the space for new things to come in naturally (rather than forcing fast  changes for the wrong reasons) can be healthy too.

I think that our Western society is much too ‘goal’ oriented: we want things fast, we want things now.  We forget that making one or several small changes leads to – or, is essentially the big change.

Practice doesn’t always make perfect: practice is perfect.  

The big change might just happen quietly, subtly, more slowly and perhaps more naturally than an ‘all or nothing’ change.  It doesn’t need to be too painful or too scary.  The path to the eventual big change might just teach you the importance of space, discipline, patience, consistency, faith.  Baby steps are OK too!

Don’t underestimate the power of small, consistent changes (if you don’t smoke for just today, it matters), or the importance of spontaneity and risk (ask that girl you like out already! do it now!), if the latter is what your heart wants.

A massive change, a clean slate – well, that can be a terrifying and fabulous thing.  But it’s not always the only – or the best – way through.

Being a naturally cautious person (who yearns to be more exciting), a nice balance of this is summed up in one of my favorite sayings: plan to be spontaneous!

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No cross to bear

Daily Prompt: Un/Faithful

Couldn't help but add some humor into this relatively heavy topic. :)
Couldn’t help but add some humor into this relatively heavy topic. 🙂

Having been raised atheist, I have had to learn about the deeper meaning and contexts of faith, and how it applies to my life, for myself and by myself.  Noone ever told me what to think, so I was forced to find that light in the dark on my own.

One of the biggest influences on my perception of the concept of faith was the novel A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving.  In typical Irving fashion, Christianity, spirituality and faith are key themes running through the novel and shaping central character development.

I don’t think that it’s possible to develop any character (fictional or real) without some exploration of faith and what it means to your life.   It is so important to examine what you believe in, and why, and to know the difference between the stories you’ve been told, the stories you tell yourself, and what you believe to be good and right and true.

Reading the novel was a huge turning point in my life because it demonstrates (via Irving’s deliciously descriptive dark humour, vivid imagery, and twisted characters) how we can actually have faith without religion!

Now this seems so obvious, but at the time it was huge for me because before then, I always thought that the notion of faith was purely a religious reference: either you believe in ‘God’ or you don’t, and that is your ‘faith’.  The term is so often associated with organized religion that it wasn’t until reading the novel that I understood completely that the concept did not need to hold any religious significance.   We can actually believe as deeply in ourselves as we can ascribe that kind of belief to an external being or organization or scripture!

At the same time, the way in which it does have significance for a religious person is not that different from the way in which non-religious people do.   The faith that people refer to in terms of a ‘God’ is also connected to a feeling, or a knowing ‘in your heart.’  It doesn’t matter if the ‘knowing’ is connected to a sense that god does or doesn’t ‘exist’, it’s just that knowing that is the faith.  So this is a key theme that runs through all forms of spirituality.

The notion of faith is very similar no matter which story you are telling.  To me it means that the heart or soul knows something that can’t really be explained.  It may develop from a belief, experience, or feeling but it’s just something that you know.   

The part that many organized (Western) religions miss, though, or maybe don’t focus on enough  is the concept of looking inward first, having faith in self first, and then looking outward to ‘god.’  They place more emphasis on specific external ‘things’ to define their faith, rather than coming at it from the heart, and that is where problems arise.

The thing that some religions do negatively (in my opinion) is that they sometimes associate the idea of a faith with heaviness, with darkness.  Faith should be about believing in light.  Faith is not about burdens, or darkness, or guilt, or fear.  It is the opposite of fear.

I still find myself stumbling around sometimes, searching for the light within, and some days the fire burns stronger than others.  But then I try to remember that living a great life requires taking leaps of faith, leaps that won’t happen without unwavering faith in yourself.