Any kind of change—moving to a new city, retiring from a career you loved, ending a long relationship—fills us with sadness and fear. But change is part of life. Trying to cling to a chapter of our life that has served its purpose can be like animating a corpse. Happiness and growth lies in allowing the change, grieving it, but welcoming possibility too. Here are some ways to do that.
Let it happen
Change is a lot like planting a seed: the work lies in choosing to plant the seed, but we also have to step back and let it be. We can’t “worry” it into growing, nor can we rush the process. When the urge to cling to results and fight the ambiguity comes, take a deep breath and think, “Let it go.” Then exhale. Do this for several minutes.
IF you feel sadness or even anger, good job—it’s working. But when we just let things happen, or as John Lennon says, “Let it be!” we relax into the process and move on to the next chapter of our lives.
Find the good
Let’s go back to the analogy of the seed. It won’t grow if it’s in the shade of the past. In fact, most seedlings instinctively seek the sun, and often grow in the direction of it (which is why you get a lot of lopsided trees).
So seek the sun, whatever it is right now. Focus on a present happiness. If you’re retiring, enjoy time with your grandchildren. If you’re newly divorced, embrace the chance to finally focus on you. IF nothing seems right, then find a simple pleasure. Oooh, chocolate ice cream! That’s good, too.
Remember the cycle of joy and sadness in your life
Think of the most beautiful thing in your life right now. I bet, if you trace its history, it had roots in a big change, or even an event that had its share of sorrow and fear. Right now I can’t imagine life without my daughter.
But I remember that she was an unexpected pregnancy, and I spent most of the nine months terrified and even angry that I had gotten myself into “this mess.” But the financial problems and relationship problems worked out, and now I count my daughter as one my life’s greatest gifts. She reminds me every day to treat the unexpected as a possible miracle in disguise.
Nurture the seeds of joy
You don’t like everything in your life right now. In fact, what’s so downright suck-y about change is that 99% of it is inconvenient and even miserable. But look at your situation and find five good things that you can nurture until it grows bigger.
Something that seems awful, like “I spend evenings alone” can be seen as “I have time for myself in the evening”—and this time can be used for all the things you had neglected while your energy was spent trying to save a dysfunctional relationship.
The editor of Ethical Living, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.