Nothing ever changes if nothing ever changes.

PsychCentral asked people on their Facebook page for their favorite motivational quotes and this one came up a couple of times. I’ve never heard it before and I like it.

I tend to get frustrated with people who complain about problems without ever doing anything different to fix them. There’s a sort of wishful/magical thinking about that, as if a problem should simply respond to your discontent and solve itself because you want it to.

My frustration is actually totally uncool. Unkind. People are naturally resistant to change. Of course they would rather gripe. It’s only natural. Change is hard. Inertia is very powerful.

But is that true for everyone all the time?

I struggle with some kinds of change. Moving, for example. I haven’t moved often in my life and it totally discombobulates me. It takes a long time before a house feels like a home and until that happens, I’m on edge. Last time we moved, I sank into a fairly substantial depression. Even though my husband and I had house-hunted for a long time, even though we found our dream house, even though we moved only a few blocks from where we had been living, the move knocked me on my ass for a while.

But otherwise and in general, I find change exciting. I get restless when life becomes too static. To feel alive, I need motion, evolution, change. New scenery, new challenges, new ideas, new ways of living my life. Sure, the uncertainty of change is frightening. But the day-in-day-out certainty of inertia frightens me even more.

One reason I enjoy therapy is that it is all about change. It makes me reconsider what I’m doing and think about what, if anything, needs changing. And it’s the kind of change I have the power to enact.

The Big Five theory of personality says that we have five traits that tend to remain constant across our lifetimes. The acronym is OCEAN.

  • Openness to experience
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extroversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

A psychologist once said that I seem to be pretty off the charts when it comes to that first trait, openness to experience. Is that the key to people who embrace change vs. people who don’t?

I can’t tell you how good this little self-test is, but just for fun, here’s a little self-test to measure openness to experience. Where do you fall on this measure?

Do you consider yourself a change-resistor or a change-embracer? What is it about change that attracts or frightens you? How do you persuade yourself to take the plunge and do something different?

Uncertainty road sign photo is available from Shutterstock.