Last updated: July 26. 2014 10:26AM - 607 Views
By - dtrinko@civitasmedia.com

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They moved my cheese. At a minimum, they moved my cheesy mug shot.

The Lima News reorganized its printed paper this week. Today marks the first day my column appears on the Lifestyle cover instead of its old home on the second page of the front section.

I can assure you that based on feedback, some people weren't too happy we moved things around in the newspaper this week. They weren't too thrilled when we unveiled tweaks to our website later in the week either. Change can be a scary thing. Dr. Spencer Johnson covers this in his well-known book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” This book resonates on so many levels this week, especially the line, “I want things to be the way they were.”

I know it's been scary for me. In my day job of scheduling what stories we'll cover and run in the newspaper, I'd grown very comfortable with my old formulas for how much of what we needed for the front cover or the cover of the region section. Having to re-think all that isn't reassuring at all.

Similarly, moving this column felt a little scary. My musings had been in the same place in the newspaper since it started as a monthly column in 2006. They were in the same place when it became an every-other-week-affair in 2009. And they'd lived in that same spot every Sunday since early 2011.

I've had my words printed on nearly every page of The Lima News over my nearly 15-year career here. Why should moving to the Sunday page once graced by longtime Lifestyle columnist Kim Kincaid feel any different than having to fill the spot once dominated by longtime news columnist Mike Lackey?

That fear seems pretty irrational once you really start thinking about it. Why are we so afraid of change? Why do we think how it was is the only way it should be?

“Change is meant to bring something different, but how different?” wrote Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at Harvard Business School, on the Harvard Business Review's website. “We are creatures of habit. Routines become automatic, but change jolts us into consciousness, sometimes in uncomfortable ways.”

Torben Rick, a senior executive in Europe, expresses on his blog why he thinks people resist the unknown so much: Fear.

“People will only take active steps toward the unknown if they genuinely believe — and perhaps more importantly, feel - that the risks of standing still are rgeater than those of moving forward in a new direction,” he wrote.

And frankly, most of us never feel terribly motivated to move at all, much less in a new direction. A study by Guarav Suri and colleagues from Stanford University and Tel Aviv Universities, published in “Psychological Science,” showed just how much pain people would take to do nothing. In the study, people willingly accepted light electric shocks. They were told they could press a button to shorten the length of the shocks, and only 40 percent hit the button.

In another portion of that sutdy, people were told they could reduce their risk of shock by as much as 90 percent if they pressed the button. Still, people only pressed the button half the time.

“The studies show that — when faced with a choice that requires them to make a proactive decision — people often opt to do nothing, even when actions that are easy to perform could noticeably improve their current state,” wrote Dr. Peter Zafirides in a 2013 post to his “The Healthy Mind” website.

Scientists call that the “Status Quo Bias.” We think things are better the way they are than how they could be.

When we do willingly make changes, it's on our terms.

I love change when it comes to technology. I enjoy trying out new gadgets. I like trying out new programs to solve old problems in new ways.

Then again, those are decisions I'm willingly making. It's harder when change is forced upon us.

I make no promises things are going to be any better. My perception of whether things are better or worse are really irrelevant, since it's up to each of us to decide if everything in our lives is better or worse.

Oddly enough, I'm pondering a quote from Stefano, the dim-witted Italian sea lion in the animated movie, “Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.” His thoughts about his new friends leaving apply just as well to how we feel about most changes in our lives. “The way it used to be isn't the way it was,” Stefano said in the movie. “And it won't be the same without them … Whatever way it is.”

I do know things keep changing, and you can never go back in time to the way they were. Perhaps “Who Moved My Cheese?” expresses it best: “The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese.”

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