The only constant is change.
It’s easy to think of certain life events, like marriage, divorce, or an empty nest, as big transitions. Yet, not all transitions are so obvious. Daily life is a stream of them, whether shifting from sleep to wakefulness, hunger to satiety, calm to annoyed, concentrating to distracted, or healthy to flu-infested. On a mundane level, every inhale is a transition to the next exhale. You are transitioning from the past to the present to the future every single second of your life.
Moment by moment you change and grow. Much of this is unconscious, some quite conscious, and all of it moves you forward. There is really no such thing as being in limbo. When you think you’re stuck you’re actually changing and growing in unconscious ways. Later on, you can look back and see how catalyzing that period that looked like limbo really was.
How does being aware of this constant dance help you? It highlights the importance of flexibility and openness, so you can ride the waves of existence while allowing transitions to become transformative.
These constant transformations almost demand you adopt a radical openness to what is rather than staying glued to preconceived notions of how things should be. This may sound simple but it’s actually very challenging. Everyone has ideas of how they want life to be, yet its slings and arrows constantly buffet you about, casting you onto to unknown shores.
How can you develop this radical flexibility and curiosity from moment to moment so life is just a little less daunting and overwhelming? One way is to start with the idea that this is how life is supposed to be. If you’re living mindfully, you’re aware of the constant ebb and flow around everyone and everything.
Internally, your body works towards maintaining homeostasis, but that balance almost never arrives, and, if it does, it doesn’t stick around very long. Your body is in a constant state of flux. Similarly, because you’re always changing and everyone else is, too, your relationships are constantly changing.
Your work situations change. Whether it’s with the people we work with or internally in our relationship to our work.
Your body ages and changes every day.
Your environment changes constantly, whether on the macro level of climate change or simply whether you’re having oatmeal or eggs for breakfast.
Your finances always change, and not always in ways you can control.
Which brings us to the essence of this topic of constant transitioning: This perennial state of change and flux calls on you to adapt. The most important skill to help you go with the flow is realizing this is simply how life is for everyone. No one made it extra hard for you. To expect any kind of stability is irrational and makes life far more difficult.
The major benefit of life eternally fluctuating is how fascinating it can be. Of course, those daily shifts can also be annoying, but if you cultivate curiosity some of those hard times will feel less overwhelming.
Once you except this is the nature of life you won’t push against the inevitable ups and down with such ferocity or denial. You will come to assume change and not expect stability or security, as that only sets you up for disappointment, stress, and unrealistic expectations of yourself, life, and other people.
In addition, truly knowing these changes and transitions are a part of everyone’s life helps you not be as surprised when things shift, whether in a way you welcome or eschew. And it’s not just things. It’s people, too. Once you understand that everybody is changing every single second it’s almost miraculous that we’re not careening into each other constantly. We can develop a new appreciation for what people go through. There’s nobody out there who isn’t dealing with some challenge. Whether it’s their health, finances, job, family, friendships, or something else, you can be sure every single person is carrying burdens. Ideally, this realization helps you cultivate compassion for yourself and others. When you see someone who seems to have everything going for them: a nice big smile on their face, a good attitude, and all their little ducks in a row, you can be 100% sure that’s not the case. There is absolutely no adult on earth who has not suffered, and suffered many times. Don’t be fooled by appearances. And, please don’t compare your insides to their outsides. (See Compare to Despair.)
This shift in attitude is all about your expectations. When you can get more comfortable with accepting how every second everything is changing for everyone you will not feel alone. Of course, on a molecular level we are all connected, as everything on earth is made of energy, but in a more prosaic way this notion that we’re all in transition every single minute of every day on every level helps us feel connected to each other. That in turn fosters compassion for ourselves and everyone else. The more compassion we develop the kinder, gentler, and more understanding we will be to each other. That’s the world I want to live in.
Copyright Nicole S. Urdang