Dealing With Change
How to deal with change is something that we all deal with in our daily lives. Some of us deal with change better than others. Some people just seem to be able to naturally roll with whatever changes come their way, while others seem highly incapable of dealing with even the smallest changes in their lives.
Why The Big Deal With Change?
The big deal with change, is that how we deal with change, will likely have a huge impact on the level of stress in our lives.
The more flexible and adaptable we are to change, the more likely we are to adjust to changing conditions in our lives.
What Charles Darwin discovered over 150 years ago when he published his ground shattering book, The Origin Of Species in 1859, was that those species that were “fittest”, tended to go on and to propagate and to survive.
Unfortunately, what Darwin proposed as being “fittest” is often mistaken for the strongest. This may sometimes be the case, but in general, it is the species or beings that are “most suitably adapted” to their environments that will prosper and make it into the next generation.
It occurs to me also, that inter-species cooperation and integration, may have a very high survival value for those species or groups that choose to share resources and knowledge.
We are also a part of our environment, and the more we adapt and blend in with our environment, the better our chances of surviving and prospering one might think.
But alas, there is the question of change, and how to deal with change that is ever-present.
I imagine what it might have been like if Charles Darwin had encountered the Buddha walking along the beach in the Galapagos islands.
Darwin might have been struck to see such a peaceful, calm presence as he watched this interesting character from a distance. He may have even been curious enough to approach this curious person and ask him how he got there, and perhaps even more importantly:
Why he looked so darn peaceful?
It is hard to imagine such a meeting occurring, but if it did, and if the Buddha answered Darwin’s question, here is what I think he might have said.
Yes, that is what I think the Buddha would have said to Darwin.
The Buddha was apparently asked to summarize his entire philosophy of life. Apparently what he chose to summarize it were in those exact words: “Everything Changes.”
Why Is That Important?
The Buddha telling Charles Darwin that “everything changes” would have left Mr. Darwin with a lot to ponder.
The immediate response would be to challenge the assertion.
Is it really true that “everything” changes?
One need only look around, and try if one is able, to identify one thing that hasn’t changed since they were a child.
Personally, I can’t think of a single thing that hasn’t changed since I was a child. Even our bodies are said to completely change over the span of 7 years.
Probably not…. everything has very likely changed.
It would likely be a huge scientific discovery to discover something whose qualities are never-changing in a natural environment. In a vacuum or in a cryogenic state would not be natural.
What We Ought To All Be Taught In Kindergarten
If I could go back in time, here is what I wished I would have been told in my earliest years getting around the planet and figuring things out.
Kid, welcome to the planet. It’s a fairly big place. We haven’t got it all figured out just yet. But one thing I can tell you, is that it changes a lot. In fact, it changes all the time. So get used to a LOT of change while you are here.
Enjoy your journey!
That little piece of advice, would have made a HUGE difference in how I would have approached everything from that moment on.
The Buddha Revisited
While we are at it, let’s revisit the Buddha for a moment. Hopefully we can catch him on his walk along the beach.
If we were to catch up with the Buddha, very likely not only would he tell us that “everything changes”, but he would also likely share with us the probable cause of most of all of our human suffering.
Why Do We Suffer?
The Buddha would say that we suffer because of these two key reasons:
- Our attachments
- Our desires
And the interesting thing, is that they are often intertwined.
What does the Buddha mean by “attachments”?
Basically what he means is that “we tend to hold onto things.”
Another way of saying it is:
We don’t like when things change. We don’t like it one darn bit for the most part!
As we look around us, we generally tend to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
Given that everything changes, the good news is that if there is something painful in our lives, if we wait things will likely change. The bad news is, that if we have something that we like and gives us pleasure, that too will change.
As the Buddha is reported to have said nearly 2500 years ago.
The sad part is, that we are still struggling to accept it and believe it so many centuries later.
How To Deal With Change?
This is how I believe we can really truly start to deal with change:
- Accept that change happens
- Accept that change happens A LOT
- The only thing that is permanent is: Change!
- Make change a way of life
- No longer be surprised when things have changed
- EXPECT change
- When change happens, as you expected, take the necessary action
- Expect change to happen again, and it will
- Don’t expect it to be the same as it was before. It won’t
- Repeat as often as necessary
And remember Kid, “Enjoy the Journey!”