Years ago, as an activist, and as a way to try to help my husband and myself be more emotionally healthy, I went on a quest to find out about change, and how it can be affected. And even though I looked at all sorts of books and articles about political and personal change, I didn’t really get very far in understanding how to change people in a more positive way. That’s because the ideas being offered to me were overly complex and messy. The books I found were hundreds of pages long, with all kinds of random stories about all sorts of seemingly unrelated stuff. No one seemed to clearly understand the systems of change. They were not seeing the process as a whole, but had instead discovered a bunch of parts, and threw them at me in a big messy pile. Eventually I mostly gave up looking at the pile, and instead headed in a different direction as I renewed my quest.
That new direction, which was through spirituality, philosophy, and developmental growth research, led me to a very clear understanding of the system of change as a whole. I still don’t know everything about change, and, since I am indeed only human, I will never fully understand the patterns of the process of change, but I definitely have more than enough understanding of how to change people for me to be able to do a pretty good job of problem solving in nearly any situation that requires change.
That doesn’t mean that I always have all the resources to make the changes I’d like to make, but at least I know what I could do to solve my problems.
And I can also explain the process of change in a fairly clear way, as well. It can be summed up by the simple story of how humans changed wild and dangerous cats such as lions and tigers and panthers into the tame, gentle, and friendly companions that we have as the domestic cats in many humans’ homes and families. Humans created positive (loving) change in cats by actively offering them more regular access to some of the things all animals need to be healthy – food, water, air, warmth, light, and the freedom to express the body’s matter and energy. In other words, we changed them by offering them healthy love and compassion. We treat cats as being valuable to us, and we do our best to help them meet their needs. And because cats have the brain capacity for basic emotions, including love and belongingness, they get our message loud and clear, and change their behavior accordingly. Domestic cats treat their companion humans who love them as interspecies family, offering us love and compassion in return for our love and compassion of them.
We sometimes make change seem more complicated than that, but really, it’s that simple: love. The details of change can indeed be as complex as you want to make them — from the particular kind of food nutrients for each individual to the specific temperature and location of warmth on an individual’s body — but the overall process of positive change is indeed as simple as offering healthy love. With mammals that can be simplified into the concepts of high quality food, water, air, warmth, light, and freedom of expression. With other individuals, be they animal, vegetable, or mineral, the idea of positive change through love is similarly simple, but with the details varying for what particular inputs and outputs of solids, liquids, gases, and energy they need to be effectively “loved” (in the sense of being supported in functioning at their peak capacity and becoming their most whole), based on the general design and make-up of the individual itself. Even non-living things, such as a bicycle, can be loved in the sense of helping them get the things they need to function well, like a clean, oiled chain, periodic movement (so that they don’t get too rusty/stuck), air in the tires, and new break pads when the old ones wear down.
Which means that the first question in every problem solving situation becomes: For positive change to happen, what kind of love – the giving and receiving of solids, liquids, gases, and energy – do the individuals involved need for them to function as well as possible?