Change takes time
It states on my card that my services as a life coach and as a counsellor will benefit those who need or want to make changes in their lives. Our lives are not long and include things we can change and things we cannot change. Even if we do nothing our lives will change gradually but maybe not in the way we want. By making an effort we can guide our lives to change in whatever direction we choose.
History of deliberate lifestyle changes
The first Buddha was Siddartha and during his lifetime (563 to 483 BC) he taught a method of developing into a buddha, defined as a person who has developed into a completely mature individual. His middle way Buddhist lifestyle involved a healthy and useful discipline without over indulgence of the senses and without self-torture. http://homepages.rpi.edu/~verwyc/Zen.htm During meditation he gained enlightenment about how this lifestyle would eliminate or minimise suffering, most of which he saw as caused by human desires. To this day many are living this lifestyle trying to develop enlightenment and reach their potential.
2. William James
Skip forward 2400 years and we find William James in 1890 stating that “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” William James “the Father of American Psychology” was a philosopher and author of many books including “The varieties of religious experience” and “The principles of psychology”.
3. The Humanists – Rogers and Maslow
In the 20 th century Carl Rogers developed his person- centred therapy based on the client’s capacity for awareness and self-directed change in attitudes and behaviour leading to growth towards “self-actualisation”, a condition lying at the top of Maslow’s pyramid and with some parallels to the Buddha’s enlightenment.
4. CBT - Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
At the same time Beck, Ellis, and Meichenbaum developed CBT, based on the premise that people could progress to where they wanted to be by changing both their thinking and their behaviour. Meinchenbaum stated that sometimes we change our behaviour first then our thinking or attitude follows, other times we change our attitude first and our behaviour follows. The point is that both need to change to achieve harmony. An example is AA which stands for both Alcoholics Anonymous and Altered Attitudes. Members change their behaviour (stop drinking) and their attitude change may accompany or follow over time leading to happiness and success as side benefits. Happiness and success usually arrive as side effects or consequences of what we do. Seeking them directly is not so successful.
There are links between Buddhism and modern Personality Theory. Happiness and success, self-actualization, enlightenment, reaching your potential, can all be regarded as basically similar lifetime goals. Meditation. which was used by Buddha is increasingly being added to modern therapeutic work.
Why change? It can be hard work, requiring effort over a long period of time. My unknown Instagram friend whose anonymous title is “my life is better than your holiday” is not likely to be looking for change. Change may not be for everybody. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” may apply. Oscar Wilde said that “dissatisfaction is the first step in the progress of a man or nation”. If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of your life or you just want to grow to become the best that you can be then look on the journey of change as an exciting challenge. It can be very rewarding.