Kenosha Vocational Ministry Community Update: Consistency of Change |


JAMES SCHATZMAN SPECIAL ON KENOSHA NEWS

Most of us spend a lot of energy trying to manage our future to feel like a windmill tilting against the wind. We do a lot of tailings, but we don’t seem to be making progress. Many great minds have tried to make sense of this and have come to some difficult conclusions.

Benjamin Franklin said when you’re done changing, you’re done. A bold statement but one that I have seen reflected in the lives of those around me on many occasions. At Kenosha Vocational Ministry, this theme and its variations are central to our work with people who have painted themselves into a corner. Although change is essential to harmonizing a life and its relationships, it often feels like a mountain too high to attempt to climb.

Each day presents new challenges and potential destabilization of our view of what should happen next. It was Plato, quoting Heraclitus of Ephesus, who said: “I believe that everything passes away and nothing remains”, and comparing existing things to the flow of a river, he says: “You could not enter two times in the same river. These ideas can be a comfort or a reason to question the value of our efforts. It can be easy to think that in our lives the mountain is only getting bigger due to change. However, leaning into our change has been proven to release dopamine, a natural brain chemical that plays a role in pleasure, motivation, and learning. Stanford neuroscientist Andrew Huberman in his research confirmed that dopamine is not only released in achieving a goal, but also in pursuing the goal and even planning for that goal. Jordan Peterson, clinical psychologist, says we were built to struggle. It is in the effort that we become more ourselves. It’s also how you stay motivated.

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So staying motivated to pursue meaningful change is not a result of the power of positive thinking. It’s a way of life that works to create forward momentum in the face of adversity. It fuels motivation through the release of dopamine and helps us stay on the right mental and emotional track. We are also reaping the benefits of achievements, improvements and lessons learned along the way. Jesus echoes this ancient line of thought when he says, “In the world you will have hard trials, be brave, I have overcome the world.”

Without change there is no growth and probably no progress. This is at the heart of the enigma of life. Although we have to plan, we find that any plan has to be “corrected” due to unforeseen variables. Sometimes charting a new course is the only logical thing to do. I like to remember a quote from James Clear in his book Atomic Habits – “Every action you take is a clear vote for who you want to become.”

James Schatzman is executive director of Kenosha Vocational Ministry.

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