Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Choose Change

This week the economy seemed to be weighing heavily on the minds of many Americans. With the President’s State of the Union Address, many of us are hoping that this year the economy will turn itself around. We have been holding our breaths, making decisions with caution rather than frivolity, and cutting back wherever possible. This has dramatically affected the construction industry. In terms of the residential market, homeowners are choosing to not sell their homes since their values have plummeted. New home construction has been painfully stalled or halted. So instead of starting from scratch, homeowners are choosing to wisely and cautiously remodel.

Remodeling can be big or small. But regardless of the size of the project, its purpose is to transform, to create a dramatic change. For some, there is a level of anxiety associated with change. We get comfortable with things as they are, and there is a sense of security with the familiar. Change can make us feel insecure and uncomfortable. But change, remodeling, and transformation are critically important…and here’s why.

Over time, we stop paying attention. We stop really “seeing” that which has become too familiar to us. After a while, we just stop noticing. Our minds tend to become desensitized, and we only selectively pay attention. So if the arrangement of your furniture has been the same for years, chances are you just don’t “see" it anymore. Architecture continuously shows me that making the smallest change, can make the biggest difference.

So, rather than resisting change, give it a try, and you will see what I mean. For example, try re-arranging the furniture you do have, or put new throw pillows on your couch or bed, or replace the family pictures that have been in the frames for just about forever. And watch your mind take notice. There is something exciting about “reawakening” your attention. And the minute we engage our minds to take notice, to become aware of our surroundings, we find ourselves present in the moment. That is the true benefit or gift of remodeling one’s surroundings. It gives us the renewed chance to be in the moment. So, rather than walking by the all too familiar pictures, the new images will draw your eyes to them, capture your attention, invigorate your memory, and stimulate your awareness. Instead of just blindly sitting on the couch at the end of the day, the newly arranged furniture in your living room will cause you to see things from a new vantage point. Perhaps this new spot has unusual lighting, or a different view towards the yard or the other rooms in the house. Just by the rearrangement of the furniture you do have, there will be a pull to go sit there, to experience what it feels or looks like. And just that simple act, will pull you to be present.

So, even in this year of economic struggle, we need to remember the importance of transformation. In fact, when times are tough, there is even more stress in our lives, and that causes our minds to go numb, and our attention to distractedly wander.

As Benjamin Franklin said in this quote that I love:
“When you're finished changing, you're finished!”

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