Change is the story of a past. When we believe our perceptions of yesterday and compare them to the reality of today, we believe this illusion, this story of change. When we project that tomorrow will be different from today, we fear the unknown, the unfamiliar.
When living more present and mindfully, you see that there is always infinite change. The weather changes daily, and we don’t tell ourselves stressful stories about that. The people we walk by on the street never seem to be the same faces, yet we don’t tell ourselves stressful stories about that. We accept these things as normal, and don’t attach any story of “it should always be sunny and warm” or “I never see the same people on this sidewalk, and that’s scary.” Everything is constantly changing.
The only reason some changes cause us stress and others don’t is the stories and thoughts we attach to them.
When you tell yourself “this is comfortable, I’ve done this before,” you’re setting yourself up to be comfortable and have an easy time. Even when unexpected things happen, you adapt easily because you’ve “been here before.” But in truth, every moment is a new one; every situation is different than the one before it. It’s only the stories we tell about certain situations that make them “scary” or “new” or “hard.”
The most important thing in the world NEVER changes: your true Self. The You that thinks, the essence behind your thoughts. That You determines what you will think about a situation, how you'll feel about it, and as a result, what effect that situation will have on your life, if any. The Thinker behind your thoughts is infinitely present, calm, serene, peaceful. You can tap into that peace anytime.
How to be Comfortable with Change:
1. Notice this moment.
There may be boxes in your living room from a recent move. There may be a quiet evening that used to be filled with another's voice. You may wake up in the morning and no one's expecting you at a job. You may have a sleepless night with a little one, consoling her back to sleep. Notice what is actually here, now. Have you ever really seen this room? Really noticed it? Do you know the pattern of your breathing now? What is the temperature of the air? How does your body feel, infused with your noticing it?
When you don’t have a story of “this shouldn’t be like this” or “that should’ve happened” you’ll notice that you’re okay, you’re blissfully, perfectly okay. You’re breathing, you have the capacity to think and feel, to tell a different story, to choose peace. You are more than okay now. You are phenomenal!
2. Notice your story.
“We do only three things in life: we sit, we stand, and we lie horizontal. That’s about it. Everything else is a story. Life is not difficult; it’s your thinking that makes it difficult.”
-Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy
Without the STORY of change, we're just here. As Byron Katie says, we're sitting, standing or laying down. Everything else is a story. Notice your story and, if necessary, choose a better one. When I begin to notice my stories, sometimes I laugh. My mind comes up with some crazy ideas of what should or shouldn’t have happened! By observing the story, you step out of the emotion of it, and can begin to see that a story is just a series of thoughts- and you can choose to think something else at any time.
3. Be grateful for the change.
“Happiness is the natural state for someone who knows that there’s nothing to know and that we already have everything we need, right here, now.”
Be grateful that life moves and grows and changes. Otherwise, we'd never learn and grow, we'd be stuck at the same level of awareness forever. Be grateful not only for the change itself, but what is here, now. Maybe you have a little more space in your day. Maybe you have a new job. Maybe you're waking up without an alarm for the first time in years! Maybe you have less responsibility. Maybe you have more. What can you love about what's here, now?
I love gratitude lists because they bring me powerfully into the present. I practice “radical gratitude” to amp up my love and acceptance of what is. “I love the smell of this candle, I’m so grateful for this laptop, I’m so grateful for this glass of cool water, I am so grateful for my lungs that breathe and my eyes that see to type.”
4. Acknowledge feelings that come up in this process.
“The ego is fed by the pay-off of negative emotions and thus clings to negativity for survival.”
-David Hawkins Ph.D.
We may feel guilty for taking a particularly hard change easily. We may feel like we're not honoring what was by accepting and loving what is. We may feel obligated to mourn the past and drag it into our present. We may be angry that things changed. Notice those emotions. Pay attention to them long enough to give them the space they need to move on.
“Am I feeling angry? Why? I believed this shouldn't happen, wouldn't happen. Well here, it's happened and I'm still breathing.”
Sometimes, we feel angry because we were scared, and our fears came true- then what? Nothing. We were still fine. It's hard on the ego to admit it was scared for nothing. We tell these stories all the time: “well, it turned out okay but who knows what could've happened.” and “sure, I'm still breathing but if one thing had gone wrong…” and we let our minds fill in the horrible “what ifs”- even after the event is passed and we're okay! Stop letting your ego justify being afraid, angry, or telling stories. There is NEVER a reason to be angry or afraid when you deal with the present, with what IS instead of what might be.
5. Decide to be comfortable now.
“The source of joy is always present, always available, and not dependent on circumstances. There are only two obstacles: (1) the ignorance that it is always available and present, and (2) valuing something other than peace and joy above that peace and joy because of the secret pleasure of the payoff.” -David Hawkins Ph.D
Regardless of what’s happened in your life, what stories you or others are telling, what has happened or might happen, you can decide to be comfortable and at peace right now. Take a deep breath, smile, and love this moment. When you intend to feel happy and at peace now, your stories no longer have power for you.