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Third Age: The way we were


Albert Einstein said it best, “The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” 

Change is difficult.  We fear it, even when it’s a good thing; getting married, becoming a parent or taking on an exciting new job. The list of fears is endless. You’ll be familiar with some of them: fear of failure, success, looking foolish, not being good enough, not being loved, being a parent, not being a parent. Everyone has some fear of change, everyone.

The fact is, what we want out of life changes, and whether or not we recognize and embrace our fears - a change is gonna come, as R&B singer Sam Cooke wrote in 1963 in a song about racism, even though he feared losing his white fans. Cooke was in turmoil over the death of his son in a drowning accident and being arrested at a “whites only” motel in Louisiana. Cooke’s lyrics reflected on coming to grips with his fear and pushing ahead: “There have been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long/but now I think I’m able to carry on/It’s been a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come.”

And the change will come whether you participate in it or not. Our amazing bodies and minds are in charge of our changes. In fact, when you awoke this morning, the trillions of cells in your body had changed.  Every day old cells die, new ones spring to life. Science tells us there’s no human cell that lasts more than a year without changing. So change is inevitable, one of life’s constants.  Every day we become a different person. And yet our minds hold on to the way we were, with old ideas, beliefs, plans and habits.

Therapist Joseph Burgo writes, “There’s no guarantee that change will be for the better; you don’t know for sure how you’re going to feel when your world changes. For this reason, many people have a strong fear of change; they cling to the familiar, even if it’s not especially satisfying. 

Change is an opportunity.  Fear of change is about fear of the future and it’s considered essential to follow a dream or goal that will force you to overcome a fear that stands in your way.

If you feel you’re in a rut, consider what Einstein also said about the definition of insanity, “ doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

If your rut is especially painful and you’re suffering from addictions or disease, considering necessary changes may seem overwhelming. You may think you can’t cope with something new. You may not want to live longer as a result. 

Becoming aware of our fears is the first positive step in overcoming them. It’s best to wrap our arms around them.

Our best days are not behind us.  There’s a bright future.  Have a shot at it and know that a change is gonna come.