Sometimes, change is obvious:
“You got a new job; good for you! How’s it going?”
“It’s been one month since my last cigarette.”
In those instances, there is a clear “before” and an equally apparent “after.” Last week, he worked for Black Industries; today he’s employed by White Productions. One month ago, she inhaled tobacco several times a day; today she’s smoke-free.
In each of those circumstances, there is a measurable difference; a line has been crossed. It is beyond argument whether or not a transformation has taken place. It has. Period. End of story. They were “there,” now they’re “here.”
However, not all change is so easy to discern.
- A husband and wife argue almost every day.
In order to change this painful dynamic, they agree to listen better to each other and respond with compassion rather than defensiveness. Although they have not had a disagreement in over a week, today was a rough day and they really “got into it.” What say you — progress or failure?
- The state of society can be depressing — and contagious.
After waking up day after day under a dour cloud, she decides she cannot do anything about “them” and instead will work on improving her own attitude. Like water off a duck’s back, she lets stresses roll away and is definitely more upbeat — for a few days. Unfortunately, after hearing of an extremely dysfunctional political interchange, she finds her positive outlook beginning to slide. Is she moving forward or backward?
- You decide to get in better shape.
Setting up a plan that includes twenty minutes of walking every morning, drinking less wine, and going to bed by eleven; you do remarkably well. That is, until you leave town for a family reunion. After sharing stores until three AM over a few bottles of Pinot Noir; you, exhausted the next morning, decide to skip your morning stroll. Are you changing your habits or not?