The power of embracing change

Takeaway: Change is inevitable and we need to learn to embrace it. Four tactics to get you started: have an awareness for change and how it interacts with your expectations, see every data point as part of a broader trend, shift your mindset to view change as the default state of the world, and meditate.

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 50s.

Podcast Length: 21 minutes, 8s (link to play podcast at the bottom of post).

We’re going through a period of rapid change. Maybe your kids are going back to school, your office is considering opening its doors for the first time since the lockdown started, or your investments are making a rollercoaster look like a relaxing ride. 

It’s a difficult time for many, and embracing change is one of the ways we can give ourselves a helping hand. This idea is central to Buddhism: happiness is nothing more than coming to terms with how things change. 

In this week’s episode of Becoming Better, we discuss four strategies for how you can begin to accept change for what it is: an inevitable part of our lives. 

  • Be aware of how your expectations interact with change. Long-time readers of this blog will know how much I talk about the importance of working with intention and awareness. Typically, this means recognizing how you’re spending your time, attention, and energy. But it’s also important to be aware of your expectations and how they’re affected by change. Let’s say you order a slice of raspberry pie on the patio of your favorite coffee shop, but you’re brought a piece of chocolate cake instead. Even if you love chocolate cake you might be disappointed because your expectation was to be savoring that tangy raspberry taste. We are constantly comparing our experiences (the chocolate cake) to our expectations (the raspberry pie) and this can lead to disappointment. Being aware of how the change between expectation and experience makes you feel allows you to do something about it. Once you identify your emotions you can begin to investigate the expectations that triggered them.
  • Zoom out to see the larger trend. Our lives are a series of data points measuring everything from our health to our finances to our sleep schedule. It’s not possible to get the whole story by looking at just one. That’s like saying “I didn’t go to the gym this week, and therefore I’m totally unhealthy and unmotivated.” Zooming out adds color and nuance to the black and white of individual data points. Because the reality is probably a lot closer to “I didn’t go to the gym at all this week because my kid was sick with the flu, I needed to prepare that presentation for the district manager, and I’ve been stressed after an argument with my sister. And I’ve actually increased my number of weekly workouts when compared to this time last year.” Zooming out provides context and helps us to see the trend in how things have changed over time. Journaling is one way to track and reflect on these trends.
  • View change as the default state of life. Everything is always in a state of flux, and the sooner we accept that, the better. Welcome change as an old friend rather than an adversary.
  • Meditate. Stepping back is a superpower right now, and meditation is one of the best ways to do that. Rather than immediately reverting to a default response to change, meditation helps you slow down, process, and respond in a healthier way. It also helps you see how your reaction might be informed by expectations, and how you can untangle these as a way to become better at dealing with change. If you’re new to the ritual of meditation here’s a guide to get you started.

Change isn’t going anywhere, so the best thing we can do is to accept and grow alongside it.

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