Change.

“ Live dangerously, take things as they come; dread naught, all will be well.” – Winston Churchill

The quote by Winston Churchill are truly words to live by when dealing with change.

There comes a time in everyone’s life where we experience change, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. At times we are in a place in our life when we might feel too comfortable, and are ready for a new challenge to take on. Or, perhaps there is a more unwelcomed, unpredictable change in which we cannot control. Regardless, our initial reactions to any change can be intimidating. By reframing change in our lives, we can move forward with positive disposition and excitement for a new beginning.

We can all relate to a time we have worked at a job for a number of years, and simply feel like we are not growing anymore. The decision to take on a new job, at a new company, with a new staff of people might frighten us to the point of discouragement from taking this action at all if we allow it. As human beings, we are instinctually programmed to protect ourselves from threat. Change can often trigger a threat response and cause this debilitating fear. We are then in control to respond to this fear. Are we going to allow fear to take over and remain comfortable where we are? Or will we embrace fear and take a leap of faith into a world of the unknown?

Conversely, other changes we have no control over and are oftentimes unwelcomed occurrences, such as a job firing, for example, to stick with the theme. Perhaps you are satisfied at a job, you feel motivated to work and feel you are continually developing, and suddenly, you are handed a pink slip for your departure from the company. Unexpected. Unpredictable. Yet, highly adaptable. Once again our choice in how we react comes into play. We can frame this occurrence as an opportunity or we can continue to sulk in the woe of a job had lost.

We will miss out on many growth opportunities in life if we do not embrace change, regardless if voluntary or involuntary. Personally, I am constantly reminded that we cannot predict the future as much as I would love to believe I have such a sixth sense. All we can do is go by intuition in the moment and taking a leap of faith into something that may or may not work out. Trust and faith in this change may just lead to a more rewarding outcome than you could have ever expected. Releasing ourselves from the anxieties of the future by remaining in the present and submitting to trust and faith can lead us through any change.

Comment with a recent experience you have had with change and how you have adapted!

Not Sweating the Small Stuff

“The attention you give to action should be proportionate to its worth”- Marcus Aurelius

As we spin our wheels throughout the day, we can become overwhelmed by life in general. We rush to work, rush to school, and rush to make it to the post office before it closes. How much does all of this running around and energy spent on these worries mean at the end of the day? Did it mean you were going to lose your job if you were 5 minutes late? Did it mean you would flunk class if you missed the beginning part of a lecture? And would the post office not open again tomorrow or the next day or the next?

How much time do we spend on tasks that truly do not matter? And, furthermore, how much worrying do we do when we do not complete these tasks with perfection?

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Think about what is truly important to you in life. Then think about how much attention you give to these important things or people relative to the attention you give to trivial annoyances or tasks.

“The attention you give to action should be proportionate to its worth.” Marcus Aurelius is encouraging us to stop for a minute and observe our actions. I do not think that Marcus Aurelius is telling us to necessarily quit giving time to the tasks we do not enjoy doing, otherwise, many of us would no longer have a job and some of us may never shower again. Ew…

Anyway, what I believe Marcus Aurelius is trying to convey here is the importance of prioritization. There will always be tasks and jobs we do not wish to give time and attention to but it is our obligation. Still, the time and energy spent on these tasks should be lesser relative to the attention we give to what we define to be most important to us in life.

In my life, I can become frustrated with having the wrong size shoes delivered, having 18 of the 20 cold calls go to voicemail, or being stuck in traffic when I am already running late. Events I am sure all of us can relate to being consumed by in one why or another.

However, these small frustrations are worthless in the grand scheme of what is important to me in life. Big picture, do they get in the way of my family, my health and my relationships with my partner and friends? Possibly at a given time, but not in the long-run. Soooo, why sweat it? The reality is that you can return the shoes and get your money back, people will eventually pick up the phone and you will ultimately get to where you need to be even if it is late.

We are reminded that time is our only non-renewable resource, so why choose to spend it so frivolously?

Focus on the three things that are most important to you in life. What can you do differently to spend more time on what is important and less time on that of lesser importance?

Stop for a moment when you observe a feeling of worry. Then ask, why am I worried? And, finally, ask yourself, how important is this worry in my life? If this angst is not regarding the three things you listed to be most important in your life, FORGET IT. It is not worth it to sweat the small stuff.

 

Intimacy and Loneliness

I’m thinking about yet another concept I had observed from listening to the Dali Lama. It was the relationship between intimacy and loneliness. When Dali Lama speaks of intimacy, for the record, he is not speaking of sexual intimacy, but rather intimate human connection.

When the interviewer asked the Dali Lama if he ever got lonely, living in isolation, away from family and spending many days in silence, he responded, “I have never felt loneliness.”

This response had my attention because I had always, personally, questioned whether something was wrong with me, since I never had this sense of “loneliness” either. Often, from my experience in participating in conversation, when people speak of loneliness, its context is often associated with experiencing a love life or lack thereof. For example, people speak of wanting to find someone for the sole reason of feeling lonely. Perhaps all of their friends have a significant other and they believe the presence of another will fulfill this void. The fact of the matter is, however, another person will never fill this void if we are not creating connection. This idea will clear up later.

It was interesting to take this perspective as the Dali Lama spoke about why he is never lonely. He begins to describe the kinds of encounters he has with the people he meets, whether it is an official meeting or simply one in a hotel elevator. He describes the connection he creates with these people. No matter what their status, no matter what the topic of conversation, he feels deeply connected to them. As a result, the Dali Lama’s human need for intimacy is regularly quenched. He creates it himself through genuine listening and openness with other human beings. How can he ever feel lonely if he is constantly connected to the universe in this way? He cannot.

Now, this brings us back to us non-Dali-Lama people, who feel we incapable of connecting to just anyone. No one understands us, right? No one is listening, right? It has me thinking…. Is it really another or is it just us who are hindering our connections? How often do we truly listen when another is speaking? How genuine are our questions of interest in another’s life?  Such conversations are opportunities to connect, yet we find ourselves distracted, uninterested and ultimately, back to feeling lonely. Go figure!

Taking it back to my personal reflection on intimacy and loneliness in my own life, never feeling this sense of “loneliness” people would speak of really, I began to think about why. Well, what I concluded really came down to the simple act of making connections with the people around me every day, like the Dali Lama (well…sort of). I am definitely not one to talk to stranger or any of that craziness, but I enjoy talking to my mom, grandma, friends and family just as much as I enjoy listening to them! This simple act has made me too feel constantly connected to the universe we all comprise, so where would this sense of loneliness have a place?

What I am saying is, another person will never fulfill our loneliness. In fact, if we do not work to create connection with that added person, we will feel just as lonely whether they are there or not!

There are so many opportunities to connect to anyone on a daily basis! Take advantage of them! I understand fellow introverts like me might not want to speak to just anyone on the street like the Dali Lama, but how about our own family members and people we are close to? It is so easy to take for granted the comfort of their presence. We might find ourselves never striking up a conversation with our parents because we feel they will always be there. But, in realty, this is missing out on an opportunity to feel connected to someone we love. Make the effort to start conversation with whoever you live with today! I guarantee the feeling of loneliness and intimate connection cannot coexist.