We live in a constant state of change. Our thoughts, emotions, sensations, and motivations are constantly shifting. We imagine that we can keep things the same, but this is an illusion. Change is a constant. We grow older with each minute, we get hungry, we are happy, we become sad. This is the nature of life in a human body. The idea that we should always be happy, or always content or always productive – all these are belief systems that are contrary to the ways things actually are.
The book Who Moved My Cheese (also available on audio) is a great story/parable by Dr. Spencer Johnson that talks about how we deal with change. It’s worth a listen/read if you don’t know it. One of the lessons from the story is: “If you do not change, you can become extinct.” Another great one is: “The quicker you let go of the old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy the new cheese.”
So if we accept that change is a constant, we have some choices to make in terms of how we relate to change. I’ve learned a lot from my kids on this subject. Left to their own instincts, little kids view the world with curiosity and with awe. Every change is fascinating. I’ve watched young children when faced with a new experience first pause, or even startle – perhaps a quick move away. Even when there is some fear or hesitation, almost immediately they also become curious and try to move closer to investigate. They haven’t yet learned to rush to judgment first – they are still fascinated by each new thing.
What if we adults could have that same childlike curiosity and wonder about our own changes. In fact I think that’s what’s gotten me through this year with some measure of peace. I’m learning to be curious about my life experiences rather than judgmental. It’s not always simple or easy. In fact sometimes it’s downright hard. But even the difficult times can be observed as interesting – even fascinating. And when you’re fascinated by what’s happening, change becomes a collaborative process – an adventure even, rather than something that’s imposed or unwelcome. The question becomes not, “How can I stop this change from happening to me?” but “How can I be with this change so that I grow from the process?”
In the process, a healthy dose of self-compassion and humor also helps! So “Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese!”