Humans don’t fear change, they fear uncertainty.

There have been many acres of forest spent on theories of change, many of which seem to posit that humans dislike and avoid it. Tell me, however, that you are giving me 10 million dollars and I will happily take it, even though it means and introduces change into my life. So, what’s the real story with change? Do humans favor or fear it?

It’s not change that people avoid, its uncertainty. Whether or not this sprouts from biological origins, homeostasis seems to be our goal, only embracing change with the prospect of elevating our homeostasis to a level of higher, perceived benefit. The million dollars, for example, conjures up certainties in our minds that we readily pursue (such as freedom to do what we want, absence of stress, etc.) even though those images are often under-thought and over-imagined.

Now, since we are on the subject of millionaires, the research around lottery winners, inheritors and other nouveau riche seems to show that their lives actually get worse. Why would that be? It seems that change driven by circumstances is rarely undertaken along with a change in character or habits, and though the scenery has changed, the music remains the same. But character change can follow a change in circumstances.

The one thing certain in life, at least as certain as death, is our agency to choose our thoughts, words and actions. When people are unhappy (a choice) regarding change, then change rarely sticks. In fact, I remember reading somewhere that the scientific odds are 9 to 1 that a person will not change, even under threat of impending death.

So, there is a chance…


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