We all know that unhappy experience can be painful. But any change in life’s routine seems to increase the chance of illness according to research performed by Dr. Thomas Holms and Dr. Minoru Masuda (pdf-fil). Marriage was given an arbitrary value of 50 on a scale of life change units (LCU). Several hundred people ranked life changes according to importance. Death of spouse 100 LCU is the worst that can happen to a person. Between 50 and 100 there are only five other life changing events: divorce, marital separation, jail term, death of close family member, and last personal injury or illness, ranging from less than 75 down towards 50. The 37 last life changing events range from 47 down to 19 LUC.
Add the values for life events that took place the last 18 months. If you score less than 200, your risk of getting ill the next 8 months is less than 10 %. This rises to 25 % for a score over 200, and to almost 50 % for scores over 300. What surprised me was that change, even to the better, gave additional LCUs. So, should you not improve yourself? Yes, you should. But you don’t have to make all changes in one go.
Scientists have known that for years that change induces a physiological reaction in the brain that results in stress, discomfort and pain. By focusing attention on certain insights, humans, and companies can combat this resistance to change. When a person’s expectations are challenged, the brain fires a distress signal. But if the person comes up with a way to cope with a new demand, he can get the “Aha!” feeling. A moment of insight creates enough positive energy in the brain to counter the negative feelings.
Sometimes people resist change, even when their life depends on it! Neuroscience has found that the brain relegates routine tasks to a part of the brain that requires little energy (driving a car). In this way the more conscious part of the brain can process new things. The brain detects differences between expectations and actuality. When an “error” is detected, it triggers fear in our brain. We become emotional, our animal instincts take over.
Another interesting finding is that by focusing attention on something, a person will develop new neural connections which if reinforced enough will become part of his subconscious. If a person starts focusing on a "problem", he will start developing new connections for why the problem occurs. This will not change a person's behavior because it focuses on the problems that are causing the behavior instead of the solutions. People who specialize in certain fields will develop brain connections to handle their job with the least amount of energy possible. That means that a finance person and an engineer have their brains wired differently. They will never look at the world the same way!
Even if a person knows that Opera is the best web-browser, it can be difficult for that person to change browser. The most common excuse is “I don’t have time”. Convince that person that he will save time in the long run, still no down loading and installation of Opera!?