I know a woman who rearranges her house constantly. When I stayed with her, I would leave to go out to a movie, come back, and all the pictures on the walls would be in different places. Or the furniture moved around in a new configuration. If I went away for the weekend, half the time I’d come back to find the living room a different color.
I liked it — it kept me on my toes.
A trick that writers use: When they’re looking for typos, they read over a manuscript once, and then print it out on different-colored paper, and read it again. The different color tricks your brain into believing you haven’t read the words before, so you can see them fresh.
Our eyes are designed to move constantly. If you looked at the exact same thing from the exact same angle for a while, the image on your retina would soon fade. The effect would be a little like how, with the sense of smell, if you’re exposed to the same odor for a while, you don’t smell it anymore. These eye movements — called microsaccades — keep the image fresh and visible.
In the movie Groundhog Day, the Bill Murray character, who was living the same day with the same events over and over, knew he was making progress when something about his day changed. “Anything different is good,” he said. Change can mean loss or danger, but it can also mean hope — sometimes at the same time.
Great thinkers encourage us to embrace change. The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them — that only creates sorrow.”
Charles Darwin observed: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
Author and astronomer C. Joybell C. wrote: “We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea.”
The 18th-century German physicist Georg C. Lichtenberg reasoned: “I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.”
Leo Tolstoy wrote: “True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” John F. Kennedy said: “Change is the law of life.”
Washington Irving pointed out, “There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have found in traveling in a stage coach, it is often a comfort to shift one’s position and be bruised in a new place.”
And Arizona’s Barbara Kingsolver, the novelist, wrote, “The changes we dread most may contain our salvation.”
Sometimes just a tiny change in perspective makes a positive difference. In the book Impro, the playwright Keith Johnstone describes an activity he does with acting students. He tells them to go around the room randomly pointing to different things and calling out their names — only they have to use wrong names. If they point at a chair, they might say “elephant!” Or pointing at a coffee cup: “balalaika!” After doing this for a few minutes, Johnstone says, people begin to see the world differently. Johnstone says colors look brighter after you do this activity. I tried it just now, and I don’t know about the colors, but it made me laugh.
So try a little change, and see if it doesn’t brighten your world and make you a little happier.