Seth Barham Design
Minimal and effective design, inspired by culture.

Spartan Wanderer

Ramblings from the road, gear reviews, design trends, and whatever else happens to be on my mind.

Why Change is Good

I like hiking, so it’s no surprise that this metaphor materialized so easily. Imagine picking a random point at the edge of the woods, walking to that point of your choosing, and turning back. Do it every day for a year. Eventually, vegetation is trampled underfoot, erosion takes its toll, and you’ve got a path. You become familiar with the landmarks - felled trees, peculiarly-shaped stones, the flora and fauna. The experience becomes predictable. It’s only human nature to begin wondering what lies beyond that original stopping point. 

I’m not going to say that doing the same thing over and over again is “insane” because I understand the comfort in it. Having a financially-secure job and commuting back and forth to it each day from a reasonably-sized house in an area that you’re familiar with is a better life than most people can hope for in the world. It’s not something I would reject completely if I’m ever faced with that reality. It could be nice. It’s a matter of preference really. But I prefer change.

Life on easy mode is boring.

On some level, routines are hardwired into our brains because they are the best way ensure survival and passing on our genes. People tend to be defensive of their routines, just as they are with their religious and political views. But isn’t a life where none of these things are challenged incredibly boring? I don’t want to live where I grew up. I don’t want to have the same job for 40 years. I want to travel, to see and meet different people with a different worldview. I want to try new foods. Sure, it may not exactly be easy to do these things, but the color of life quickly fades if you resign yourself to comfortable sameness. Don’t let your life be reduced to the sigh you let out when a song that has been played into the ground comes on the radio. 

Change stimulates the brain.

Culture shock is a shock for a reason. After being surrounded by an environment you’re accustomed to, something like an open-air Chinese market is going to hit you like a wall. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The excitement, wonder, and sometimes discomfort are your brain being stimulated on a higher level than usual. When you’re tossed into a different environment, you actually have to think. You can’t rely on autopilot mode like you would back home. You don’t necessarily need to travel to feel enriched like this. Changing a job has the same effect. You need to learn a new set of skills, meet new colleagues, and become acquainted with a new office culture. 

Your worldview can be challenged.

The rich man finds it hard to emphasize with the poor man. The Christian judges the Muslim. The rural American thinks all Chinese eat dogs and worship Mao. I don’t really like the “x is cancer” meme, but I’m going to say it: tribalism is cancer. We are not going to move forward as a united human race as long as it divides us. The root of it all? Unyielding worldviews that are rarely exposed to anything different. I don’t claim to be immune from this either. I didn’t intend for this post to be an advertisement for travel, but world travel will challenge and change your closely held beliefs and opinions more than anything else. After years of being told by right-leaning people in my hometown that socialism is evil, I went to Sweden and realized, hey, that’s pretty good. 

You learn more about yourself.

This kind of harkens back to life on easy mode. How can you know what you're really capable of if you're just doing the same thing all the time? Of course you're going to be good with D.Va if you use her all the time. What are you going to do if your team already has a tank? When you try to do something new or place yourself in unfamiliar surroundings, that's when you really learn who you are and what you can do. Change does not have to be a series of unforeseen events that you're forced to adapt to. It's something that you can actively seek out in order to challenge yourself and grow. 

It’s good for your mental health.

The absence of change can sometimes manifest itself in more serious ways than mere boredom. The doldrum of repeating the same pattern day in and day out can lead to a feeling of stagnation and sometimes depression. I'm not claiming to be an expert on the subject and would never say "I'm depressed" simply because I'm in a rut, but I have experienced a negative mental state from feeling stuck in a routine. Sometimes, all it takes is a change to get out of these ruts. Sleep, exercise, and diet are usually the first places to look. However, if you are clinically depressed, big changes can often be triggers, so always discuss with your doctor/therapist before undergoing a major shift in your lifestyle. 

The road less traveled is that way for a reason. 

I am not saying change is easy by any means. There’s a reason why people resist it so predictably and effectively. The phrase “comfort zone” didn’t come about on its own. However, unhappiness with some aspect of your life will not be resolved until you change some part of what you’re doing. This could be as small as sticking to a sleep schedule more religiously or as significant as moving to Peru for a year. I think the biggest reason people don’t attempt to make a change is that positive results are not guaranteed, which is completely true. 

In that case, no one should ever gamble, ask someone on a date, or travel anywhere. There’s a chance you could lose, she might say no, and yeah, there’s no guarantee that your plane won’t explode on the runway. In other words, nothing in life is guaranteed! You could keep doing the thing you know and be comfortable but less happy…or you could take a chance, make the change, and experience life on a different level than you thought was possible.

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