A Buddhist monk stops at a newsstand to purchase a newspaper. He hands the proprietor a $10 bill. After waiting a moment, he says, “May I have my change?” to which the vendor answers, “Change comes from within.” For our external world to change there must first be a shift in our interior landscape.

I was recently giving an in-patient seminar on addiction when one of the attendees said, “I’ve lived here too long. I think I’ll just move to the South of France, then I can walk into a restaurant and not have to worry that the waiter is going to put a drink in front of me before my ass hits the chair.” Someone else spoke up and said, “Nice plan, but you’d still have go with you.”

That individual had a very good point; you can’t hide from yourself. You are the common factor in your life and, no matter where you go, what you do, or whom it is that you hang out with, you still have to be there. If you don’t change, then all the machinations in the world aren’t going to help.

For this fellow intent on moving to the South of France, the change is not about the venue, the change is about choosing not to drink. That imperative is internal, not situational and, when we recognize it as internal, we foster the shift in experience that we seek.

This can be said about anything. We do not become more organized by purchasing a filing cabinet. We do not become more healthy by joining a gym. We don’t even become more at ease in our lives by speaking with a therapist. In order to enact change, we must choose to act, and it’s that action that drives the change, making the difference.

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