Change for the better

First published in the 18th century, Encyclopedia Britannica rose rapidly in popularity. Consisting of many volumes that were comprehensive in content, it soon became a valuable means of reference. Though expensive, common people and those running libraries were eager to buy the entire set. It seemed as if good times would never cease, but the tide turned suddenly. Revenues first fell when Grolier Encyclopedia was published on CD-ROM at a much cheaper rate. This was followed by Microsoft’s Encarta. So huge were the losses that within a year the business was sold. The new owners, however, revived it by making it a free online service. It was financed by advertisements and they were able to continue with the time-honoured tradition of providing countless articles and biographies besides videos, images and websites.

This story could well come across as just another chapter in the history of one enterprise. But it also offers valuable insights on how to deal with sudden change. First of all, it highlights the fact that even the strongest among us are not immune to change. We see that change is a constant in our lives. If it comes as a promotion, it is welcome; but reversals also happen just as frequently. Situations can suddenly turn unpleasant and even tragic. The problem could be small or as large as a failed relationship or the death of a loved one. However since misfortunes are a part of life, they will always be there. We have to learn to live with them. They will not go away just because we think we do not deserve them. 

Renowned psychologist William James has said, “Acceptance of what has happened is the first step in overcoming the consequences of any misfortune”. Anger and worry just come in the way of recovery. We can either let the tides of misfortune sweep us away or dig our heels in and survive. How we face setbacks is a measure of our inner strength. Change spares none of us. But all of us are free to decide how to respond to it. Victor Frankl, a survivor of Nazi atrocities lost all that he loved, but with time, he found fresh inspiration and love. He then devoted the rest of his life to healing others.

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