Embracing change – How to get more comfortable with the inevitable
My husband will be the first one to tell you that I’m such a creature of habit. I like my morning ritual, getting up at a certain hour and going to bed around the same time. I like an early dinner and will certainly moan if we have late dinner plans with friends. Not because I don’t like socialising and getting together for a nice meal, but because my rhythm will be disrupted and I’ll have to deal with the repercussions of it into the next day, feeling sluggish and unmotivated.
It’s not only the small daily changes I’m often struggling with. The big stuff keeps me on my toes too. The divorce of my parents, the death of my dad, getting wrinkles and detecting white hairs, the end of relationships, losing pets, it doesn’t get any easier, does it?
No day is the same
Even sticking to the same structure every day, no day is ever the same as the one before (even though it seems like that sometimes). Everything is in flux, as Greek philosopher Heraclitus put it. Everything changes, even things that seem incredibly reliable like the sun. Every morning it comes up in the east and in the evening, it disappears in the west. But even the sun is constantly changing. Lingering on my headspace app for a few minutes a week or so ago I learned about solar cycles, flares, sunspots that constantly change, and yet, we know the sun comes up and goes down, day after day.
What does that mean for us? Can we rely on something, anything in life knowing that everything is always changing? It sounds very unsettling, but there is some sort of comfort when you know that nothing lasts forever.
The bad and the good – it all passes
Bad days will pass, bad jobs will become history, bad relationships will end. Unfortunately, this also applies to the good stuff. The stuff you want to hold on to forever.
I’m not trying to be a downer here; I’m learning as I go just like everyone else. Learning how to let go, how to accept loss, how to leave things behind I don’t want to say goodbye to. After all, realising that everything is always changing means that we might get a new appreciation for a lot of things in our lives.
Accepting the impermanent
I talked about this in my previous blog post. The acceptance of the impermanence of things is one of the cornerstones of the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi. Instead of resisting change, we could take the route of welcoming the inevitable into our lives and thus minimise frustrations and heartaches.
Suddenly, we don’t take a lovely chat with a friend for granted anymore. We appreciate a warm hug from a loved one and a snuggle with our pet on a cold day. We’ll cherish a perfect summer’s day out and about with all the hustle and bustle around us. We’re thankful for the quiet moments to reflect and recharge.
As the seasons change throughout the year, our lives keep sailing along, sometimes we’re gliding over a smooth surface, and sometimes we’re facing the rough seas. We cry and we laugh, we mourn and we celebrate. It’s all part of our human experience.
Big and small changes
Change comes along in all sizes. Sometimes we don’t even notice it as it drips in slowly like a leaking tap, other times it comes flooding down on us like torrential rain. However we experience change, it is often perceived as scary. It’s the unknown, the unfamiliar, the uncertain. It rips us out of the comforts of our routines and habits.
When this happens, we can either resist and fight it, or we can accept it. We could take a softer approach than we often do when we face change by trying to get familiar with it instead of shutting it out immediately.
Welcoming new situations
Accepting and embracing change requires courage. It’s not easy, but it can teach us certain things. It can help us grow and widen our horizons. It could be the little nudge we needed at a certain time in our life, or it’s the harsh push in the deep end of the pool that makes us realise that the water wasn’t that cold in the first place.
You could also say that embracing change is to welcome everything life has in store for us. To me it means lifelong learning (including those hard life lessons) and growing, finding creative solutions along the way, adapting to different situations, and welcoming new opportunities.
How to make this easier?
Before I go, I’d like to share three things with you that could make things a bit easier when dealing with change.
The first one is to breathe. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by a new situation, I try and pause for a few minutes and take some deep breaths. It doesn’t change anything about the situation, but it gives me a bit of space to calm down and assess what’s going on. Regular meditation is a good way to cultivate this habit.
The second tip is to keep a gratitude journal. Practicing gratitude is a good way to remember the small daily things in life that bring us joy. During times of change, chances are that some of these little things are still accessible to us to lighten our mood. It’s just a reminder that despite what’s happening, there is still a lot of goodness in our lives.
Recently, we watched a YouTube video of a monk talking about his morning routine. Part of his daily habit was to contemplate death for a few minutes before getting up every day. While the idea of this might sound morbid, it’s just another way to appreciate life and make the most of it.
Finally, I’d say, ask for help. Taking advice from someone who has been in a similar situation we’re struggling with is really valuable. It gives us practical advice on how to handle it, but it also shows us that someone else has already dealt with this situation before and came out on the other side.
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