Change is good—we know it, but we hate it

On my last trip home, for the first time since I left the country six years ago, I spent a whole month in India. It gave me the opportunity to think about some things more deeply than I have been able to on previous trips. One realisation was that most people don’t change very much at all. Their habits, thoughts, views, opinions, arguments, dressing style, preferences…. remain surprisingly unchanged.

For certain aspects of a person that is a good thing. But overall such an attitude has more negative consequences. I think it stops people from living happier lives that they are perfectly capable of living.

I don’t know why this is the case. Of course change is hard, but surely people would have figured out that it is also disproportionately rewarding and totally worth the occasional failures. If humanity hasn’t figured out that yet, then it is the failure of the collective that desperately needs fixing. And I am not the first one to recognise that.

One solution to the problem of enabling change is to use technology. Take the Coach.me app (previously, Lift). It lets you set goals and then helps you to reach them. It does that through social engineering and simple digital nudges.

The social engineering aspect involves the offer of live coaches or encouragement by strangers. Your goals are public and, if you’re friends use the app then they can look at how you’re doing and perhaps give you that much needed push. The digital nudges are reminders and simple tutorials to help you in your goal to, say, meditate daily.

Coach.me is not the only app. But what any of those apps do is provide a solution to the people who are already convinced that changing is important. That is a tiny slice of smartphone-using humanity.

What if we want to spread the message “change is good” and convince a much larger part of humanity? Education? Celebrities? Social media? How do you convince yourself to change? What do you do to make it happen?

Image: arthurjohnpicton CC-NC.

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3 thoughts on “Change is good—we know it, but we hate it”

  1. Lovely piece, Akshat. I hope your month was good, sure sounds like it. Also, the app sounds interesting, I think I might take a look.
    I’ve recently changed my career trajectory, after Solo14 actually, when we last saw each other, and I have been philosophising about life’s meaning and happiness, which is what I read into your writing. I like being involved in a community, feeling like I belong, but physically rather than in a social network bubble. I agree technology is a good tool to start with community helping us to find one another and that it doesn’t give us the physical contact that a community can give.
    I have found another sporting community to be with now that I’ve moved again, I wonder who I’ll make friends with this time. My physical communities are more important to me than any technology and I miss the people and friends I fell in love with in all the physical spaces I’ve been, technology helps me stay connected but there’s nothing like seeing them in person and breathing the same air.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Jojo. The reason we haven’t all become fully virtual animals is because of our need for socialising in physical spaces. There is a lot one gets out of it, and it cannot replaced through any amount of virtual interaction (at least not yet).

      “I miss the people and friends I feel in love with in all the physical spaces I’ve been”. I love that you don’t shy away from falling in love with many people. To a certain extent, it is one feature in a fellow human being that I seek too. Most people are terrified of falling in love, because among all human emotions it is love that causes the most changes. Those changes are beautiful and exhilarating, but most people aren’t ready to risk losing them.

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