Welcome to #practices4life—practical tips for living a happier, healthier, and more peaceful life from Jim Blake, CEO of Unity World Headquarters at Unity Village.
“Here I share techniques I have learned for living a more balanced life. Some of these can be mastered, while some we will “practice” for the rest of our lives. The important thing is to keep trying because with every effort, we get better. And improvement is the goal—to make this life experience better for ourselves and those around us.”—Jim
Greetings, friends! It’s late April and I think spring has FINALLY arrived in the Midwest, which means we are about to witness great change all around us and in our routines. The landscape turns green and flowers bloom. Birds, squirrels, rabbits, and critters of all shapes and sizes return, and the temperature changes dramatically. We begin to spend more time outside than inside. For most of us this is one of the most welcome and delightful changes we encounter each year. Which brings us to our topic for this month’s column—change.
Here is something interesting for you to consider; I dare say it may blow your mind. One ancient teaching—well over 2,000 years old—can dramatically shift the course of your life every single day. It is the simplest practice we have discussed since we started our journey together. That’s right, it is both the simplest practice and can have the single biggest impact on your day-to-day experience.
It is this: Make change your friend. Let me say it again. We need to make friends with the fact that everything in life changes. Why? Let me explain.
Nothing in life—in our lives, other people’s lives, nature, or anywhere you look—will ever, ever remain static. At some point everything will change. It is universal law. It has been happening for billions of years in the natural world and it happens in our families, jobs, businesses, neighborhoods, and so on.
Either fortunately or unfortunately, to everything there is a season. Sometimes change is terribly painful in our experience, like the death of a friend, family member, or pet. Sometimes it is joyful such as an exciting new job or getting married or having a baby. Other times change is the welcome result of moving through a particularly difficult period—recovering from an illness, a divorce, or healing from an injury.
What I want us to spend time on today are those daily, weekly, monthly run of the mill changes that are going to occur in life. Those that occur in people, places and things that aren’t life-threatening but are a part of the evolution of life.
First, let’s own that many of us just don’t like change. But unless we want to spend our lives constantly disappointed, we must begin to accept that some level of change is going to happen in our lives pretty regularly. This will begin to bring some mental peace.
Second, for the changes we really don’t like—and here is the terribly unfortunate kicker—most of us dig in and create our own mental and emotional suffering by reacting negatively and having what is usually a very unconstructive reaction. In truth, whatever it was we DIDN’T want to change did what it can’t help but do: It changed.
We can spin in our own negativity about this change for very long periods of time. Often, we are telling anyone and everyone who will listen how unhappy we are about this change—a reorganization at work, a loved one moving far away, a new business coming to the neighborhood, etc. This just prolongs our mental and emotional anguish.
Most of the time, this resistance does nothing but create suffering. This is why recognizing that the world is going to evolve and change—and making change your new friend—is so profound.
It allows us to completely release the need to resist change and instead be emotionally and mentally open to changing with the world around us as it evolves. I don’t know about you, but I would like to be as welcoming to every change in my life as I am to springtime after a long, harsh winter. I think I would be far less stressed and worried, and far more peaceful and happy, if this were my approach to all the change that is inevitable in my life.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times for proper resistance, in addressing social justice issues, for example. I am not referring to those sorts of things here. I am referring to our own individual, mental, and emotional resistance to change when the entire world is going to change no matter what we do.
So why not consider an alternative approach? Why not make change our friend? If we do, we will dramatically reduce our own mental and emotional stress, and we will evolve into that which is new much more easily and quickly, without disturbance to our internal well-being.
That, after all, is our goal to live happier, healthier, and more peaceful lives. Be well, my friends, and make change your friend.
This is our practice, and practice makes progress.