How Many Psychologists Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb?

The answer is:

Only one.

BUT: The lightbulb really has to want to change.

I wish that were just a joke, but it isn’t.

It’s a perfect parabel (or is it a metaphor? No matter) for the human condition.

Change can only come from the inside.

Change is born from an inner desire, and no outer force can create it.

Ever see two people get married, and one of the two tried to change the other?

It never works.

Either the relationship is doomed to end, or the partners grow into an unhealthy relationship with all kinds of problems – a whole different kind of doom.

Same thing with addiction: until an addict decides he wants the change, that’s when it can happen, regardless of how helpful and supportive his friends and family are.

Discipline in your life?

Gotta want it yourself.

Lose weight?

Up to you and nobody else.

In fact, outside force intended to create change often only has an adverse effect.

If you tell someone who is morbidly obese that they need to change things because otherwise they’re at risk of disease of worse, there’s a good chance that the fear, stress and anxiety that are the result will only drive more unhealthy food choices.

No, you can’t force change on someone.

The lightbulb really has to want to change.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that difficult to find your desire for change.

Instead, it can be – it ought to be – fun.

Without fun, everything gets harder, if not impossible.

My own example?

For years after leaving the monastery, I didn’t meditate.

Just dropped the habit.

One day I was talking to a coach, and I said that I should get back to meditation.

“Why?”, she asked.

“Because it would be so good for me. For my mind, my focus, my productivity”.

And then she gave me the key that unlocked the kingdom, when she said:

“What if you would meditate because you WANT it?”

The moment she said that I had a vision of myself in a darkened room, peaceful, quiet, in deep meditation.

And I fell in love with that image.

The next day I woke up, washed my face, and sat down to meditate.

And save for maybe 5 times, when travelling or having guests over, I haven’t missed a single day.

No discipline required.

That’s the power of wanting change.

And you can get that for yourself too.

Whatever it is in your life that you’d like to change, find the reason why you would really really want it.

Let go of the should, and go for the fun of wanting.

More money, better relationships, better health, less procrastination… this ‘should’ vs ‘want’ thing works for any change you might want to create in your life.

So, my little lightbulb…

Do you really want to change…?



Also published on Medium.

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