Change is going to occur in our lives whether we like it or not – the key is finding a way to positively cope with (and grow from) it.
Whether we like it or not, we are all living in a world of unprecedented and accelerating change. Interestingly, change offers both challenges and opportunities. When changes are negative, resulting from such things as illness, death, or job loss, we are faced with some of the very same challenges that we encounter when the changes in our lives are positive- like marriage, sudden wealth or a job promotion. Why is this true? Because any type of change requires adjustments in lifestyle (in our day-to-day routine) and even in our thought processes.
Therefore, deciding on possible plans of action – relative to how we can best deal with change – can prepare us for often unforeseeable future events. And our careful planning can prevent needless problems that might be avoided simply by thinking things through in advance.
Ways to Gracefully Accept Change
Don’t Fight It
The Prayer of Serenity says it best: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Your comfort zone – the familiar and comfortable – is usually difficult to break out of because it’s human nature to protect and only embrace what you know, value and trust. However, today’s reality demands that you adapt to ever-increasing changes, and there are only two choices. You can either fight change – thus making life more difficult – or you can adapt gracefully (of course, adapting within your value system). A daily reading of the Prayer of Serenity is one antidote to dealing with change.
Plan on Change and Know Your Plan
John Wooden, famous UCLA basketball coach, said, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.” Since we know that change is an inevitable part of life, shouldn’t we mentally prepare for it? An easy way to do this is to ask the question, “What if?” Like this: Think of possible situations that might cause change in your life and ask something like, “What if I lost my job next month? What would I do?” Or, “What if my spouse dies next year?” Although, admittedly, these aren’t pleasant thoughts, they are the first step toward wise preparation. The second step is to create a plan for action – if only a mental plan. For example, the action plan for the question, “What if my spouse dies next year?” might be to discuss her wishes (at an appropriate time) regarding funeral arrangements, and to create a will for both of you.
When you plan on change, and know your plan, it can minimize concern and diminish some of the inherent trauma.
Decide What You Will Not Change
There are certain things in life that no matter how many other people change, you absolutely refuse to do so. These issues are usually quite personal. If, for example, one of your immoveable core values is honesty, then even if all of your co-workers decide to make a policy change that you believe is dishonest, you will not change, although it means losing your job.
The way to decide what you absolutely will not change is to think deeply about your core values – those standards by which you live your life. Make a list of them if you’d like.
Knowing what you firmly stand for means that you won’t “fall for” just anything. When your values define your life, you won’t change unless that change is in alignment with your core beliefs. Such behavior is characteristic of true leaders and those who are at peace with the world.
Keep a Sense of Humor
The most popular and effective leaders understand that having a sense of humor is one of the keys to their success. Mastering the ability to laugh at oneself and to find the humor in stressful situations is admirable. Humor conquers pretense, diffuses anger and hostility, and turns an uncomfortable moment into a memorable one. The axiom, “If you take yourself too seriously, no one else will” is indeed correct. The most effective and well-liked people are spontaneous and use humor to lighten life with laughter.
When dealing with life changes, the well-known saying, “Attitude is everything” is certainly true. Those who remain cheerful through their challenging changes and simply don’t sweat the small stuff, but instead roll with the punches, guarantee for themselves a much more enjoyable ride through life.