“Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.” – Hugh Prather
Change, by definition, is to make something become different than it previously was. A simple definition, yet the impact of change is incredibly profound. And while there are plenty of people who embrace and welcome change, there are a large number of people who want nothing to do with it. For the latter group, change is hard. For that group, the way things are works just fine. For them, change is unwanted. But for those who embrace change, it as a new opportunity. For them change is a chance to make things better or more efficient. So who is right? Is change really all that hard? Is it something we should be excited about?
Truth be told, change is really only as hard as we decide to make it. When we are attached to the way things are, we make change difficult. When we recognize that all things in life are fluid and will change in some way at some point, not becoming attached to any one method or outcome, change will come more easily. Your mindset and attitude go a long way toward defining how you feel about change.
Some personal examples:
Making it hard – If you have read any of my previous blogs you know I have always been a planner. I like things to be well organized and planned out so things go smoothly and I can maximize results. I am also a perfectionist…if I am going to do something it is going to be done right…or I will redo it…as often as is needed. When you put these things all together they can be a recipe for making change way harder than it has to be. Case and point – something as simple as my daily routine. I have had some type of a morning routine for many, many years. There are things I do each morning, in a specific order, each for a specific amount of time (meditate, read, journal, etc.). It helps frame my morning and set me up for a successful day. Skip the routine and I am a mess the rest of the day, feeling out of sorts and out of step with myself. So I have always worked VERY hard to ensure the routine did not get skipped nor altered in any way. However, sometimes other people, pets, or life in general (i.e. loss of power, a problem with the well, a call from work, the outfit I planned to wear was unfit to wear for some reason, etc.) interfered and I did not get to do some or all of my routine. There was a time, not all that long ago, when if that would have happened I would become bent out of shape just because it happened, never mind the fact that not doing my routine just let me feeling out of sorts too. I would get irritated with the person or thing that caused a change to my morning routine. I could have chosen any number of attitudes about it, but for a long time I was choosing to get upset when my routine was forcibly changed. On those days, change was hard…I didn’t like it…I didn’t want it…and I was not happy about it.
Going with the flow – In more recent years I have gotten much better at releasing my attachment to outcomes or situations in general. This has allowed me to be more flexible when changes or unexpected things come up. I have learned to laugh at the occasional ridiculousness of life and at the things I can’t control. It’s a combination of keeping things in their proper perspective and being mindful of what I allow to take control of my feelings and reactions. It also has a lot to do with working hard to be present in each moment. For example – now when I am having a morning when things just aren’t flowing the way I want or expect them to, I find humor in it. I have learned that life with sometimes throw me a curve ball and I can either catch it, get hit by it, or move out of its way. And while I can’t always get out of the way in time, I work very hard to make sure I don’t get hit by it. Rather I try to catch it – in other words I decide how I will respond on the morning when my electric goes out as I am trying to dry my hair, the outfit I had been planning to wear has a mark on it that will require dry cleaning, my cat gets sick on the carpet just as I am trying to walk out the door…you get the idea. I work hard to not allow those things to push me over the edge…to see them for what they are and to keep them in proper perspective. In the grand scheme of life, these are not big things and as such I do not want them to have major control over me or my responses to them. Deep breathing, laughter, and staying present are the tools I use to help prevent change from becoming harder than it really needs to be. And when you come at it from that perspective, change isn’t so bad.
Change is hard because we make it hard by allowing the change to have control of our emotions, our feelings, and our responses because of our attachment to either the way things have always been or to a specific outcome. When we make change hard we make ourselves miserable. It would be far better to release the attachment, and thus stop the change from gaining control of any part of us. Do I always get it right? No, of course not…I am human. But I am consciously working on it. And I am much better now that I have ever been. I try to be mindful of my choices and of my mindset. I try to remember the why for doing things (in an effort to put the how into better perspective). It’s a continual practice, as are most things related to self-improvement and personal development but well worth it. In fact, it is at this point that change can actually become an opportunity to learn, stretch, grow, or expand. Suddenly then, change isn’t so bad.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer