The Happiness Connection  

How do you handle change in your life?

Dealing with change

I do some of my best writing in coffee shops.

I’m not sure what makes them such fertile environments for my thoughts, but they are. Perhaps it’s because I’m separated from other work and domestic distractions, or maybe it’s because they’re a buzz of energy. Regardless of the reason, when I want to create some great content, I grab my laptop and walk to my neighbourhood java joint. The walk is a great opportunity to organize my thoughts, so I can get writing as soon as I’m settled with my coffee.

On one particular occasion, I purchased my beverage and made my way to my favourite corner and its comfy chair. But there was an unexpected problem. Someone was sitting in my place. I felt off balance and momentarily wondered if I should just turn around and go home. But I had work to do.

So, after a brief look of disbelief, I heaved a sigh of resignation and chose a different spot.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you imagined a situation that didn’t pan out the way you expected?

Some people are born with a natural affinity for change. They look forward to it with anticipation. They’re masters of going with the flow. Others are lovers of routine, and familiarity. When change comes their way, they try to avoid making eye contact with it, in the futile hope that it’ll pass them by.

You might fall into a third category and enjoy new experiences, but only when you choose them. That’s where I tend to hang out. From this vantage point, you fool yourself into thinking you’re somehow in control of what’s happening. It took me a long time to realize that’s just an illusion.

Regardless of your relationship with change, you can’t escape it. It’s one of the few things you can count on. Nothing stays the same forever no matter how much you may want it to. You can resist all you want, but you can rarely stop it from happening.

Happy people may not love change, but they’re accepting of it. Regardless of how they feel about what’s happening, they allow their life to shift without trying to hold it in place. They recognize that would be futile.

I used to imagine comfort zones as islands. You might leave yours for a while but could always return to it when you got tired of being uncomfortable. With age and wisdom, that picture has changed.

Now I see life as a continuous journey, or route with ever-changing terrain. Sometimes it’s sandy, then it goes steeply up hill, only to become muddy as you reach the top. Eventually it becomes sandy again. Although the sensation feels weird after the rocky path you’ve been travelling, you adjust more quickly because it’s something you’ve experienced before.

The only way you can keep the surface under your feet the same is to stand still, or march on the spot. You may not feel the discomfort of new sensation by doing this, but a different problem may arise. Staying in the same place is likely to become boring, and monotonous. It’s why walking outside is usually more interesting than being on a treadmill.

As you learn to accept change, it becomes easier to navigate. It becomes a natural part of your life. If learning to accept change is something you want to practice, here are a few things to consider.

Think of times in your life when you’ve found yourself out of your comfort zone and survived. If you did it once, you can do it again. The first time is often the most challenging. It gets easier with subsequent experiences.

Some of the best things in life come as the result of being forced out of your zone of comfort. Humans may enjoy routine, but they also love unexpected surprises. Not knowing what’s around the next corner is one of life’s greatest gifts.

Don’t leave too much time between your ventures into the unknown. If you wait too long between unfamiliar experiences, it will feel like the first time over and over again. Begin by inviting change into your life on your own terms. You can do this by changing your schedule or choosing a different route to work, the store, or for a walk. Instead of doing your laundry on Tuesday, try completing it on Friday. Challenge yourself to sit at a different table in the coffee shop, until you’ve sat at them all.

When unexpected change presents itself, rather than greeting it with a doom-and-gloom attitude, find something positive in it. Optimism might not be your first response, and that’s OK as long as you get there in the end.

My first response to this particular change was negative, but that didn’t stop me from trying to turn my emotions around. At one point, I looked over at my usual chair and noticed the two men sitting at the table beside it were having an unusually loud conversation. I realized that if I’d been sitting beside them, it would have been much harder to concentrate. Having to sit in a different place turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Every time an opportunity for change presents itself, remind yourself that it’s gifting you with the chance to practice being more adaptable and flexible. These are important skills to develop if you want your life to be a happy one. Maybe it’s time to consciously get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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