CHANGE is neither a three nor a four letter word

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Change is an amazingly powerful and often times emotionally-charged word. Change can be a word that seems like such a great idea when directed toward someone else; i.e. how “they” can change in a way that will make your life better. At the other end of the spectrum, the word “change” can trigger fear and resistance in a split-second if someone says you need to do it. Or, it can be embraced and welcomed by choosing to move forward with an attitude of gratitude and appreciation for the opportunities change can bring to the quality of your life.

My whole life, I have been presented to a single element called change. Change occurs in many different forms and is carried out in many different ways. However, just recently, I have come to the realization that change can be the deepest of all subjects. I always assumed that change occurred when you moved to a new town or when you lost someone close to you. Those are elements to change, yes, but change doesn’t have to occur over a single dramatic event. It can just happen overnight when your brain determines it’s time to do something different.

For obvious reasons, people reject change. Especially people who are close to each other because they feel that this change is going to separate them and make them not as close as they used to be. They fight change until they force the person to change. It’s sad how this works, but in reality, it’s probably the single most reason why people change. The people we love, love us so much that they want us to remain the way we are forever. Forever is a long time and not one person can always stay the same. Sometimes if the people we love would just accept the change and go with it, they would understand where the change was originally coming from.

It’s dangerous to try to stop change and argue against it, especially if the person wants to change so much. The reason that somebody wants to change is usually not their choice, but a feeling that the person feels inside their head and heart. It’s almost like a celestial force is making you change and you have no say in the matter but you know you have to because your mental and physical attributes are commanding you to. Maybe the change isn’t the best change, but if you dig deeper, the person that you love and know isn’t really changing, they are just trying to find themselves and the one thing they need the most is the support of the people who they care about the most. When the people they care about the most dismiss their change as something unimportant and try to guard down everything by rules and regulations, the person they loved begins to change out of sadness that the one group of people he or she thought would understand, really has no clue. Maybe change isn’t always good or bad, as I was implying here earlier, but it could be looked at as something to help you grow. So just remember, if someone is changing, be there for them, offer your opinion but help them go through whatever they need to go through because they will do what they need to do regardless of the people that they really do love.

Everything changes. What doesn’t?

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The year has changed. 2016 has gone and 2017 has come. Many people too are opting for change — in life, perspective, actions and living conditions.

Knowingly, things keep changing. The clock ticks, the day unfolds, trees grow, leaves turn brown, hair turns gray, children grow up and leave home, attention skitters from this to that, the cookie is delicious but then it’s all gone, you’re mad about something for awhile and then get over it, consciousness streams on and on and on.

Many changes are certainly good. Most people are glad to put old and phased-out “things” behind them. Painkillers, flush toilets, and the internet seem like pretty much evolving. It’s lovely to watch grass waving in the wind or a river passing. Fundamentally, if there were no change, nothing could happen, reality would be frozen forever.

On the other hand, many changes are uncomfortable, even awful. The body gets creaky, and worse. We lose those we love and eventually lose life itself. Families drift apart, companies fail, dictators tighten their grip, nations go to war. The planet warms at human hands, as each day we pour nearly a billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Countless species go extinct. As I often hear, “things do actually fall apart…”

And change itself is often – maybe innately – stressful. When you really open to the fact always in front of our noses that each moment of now decays and disappears in the instant it arises – it can feel rather alarming. Life and time sweep us along. As soon as something pleasant occurs in the mind’s flow we reach for it but whoosh it passes away right through our fingers leaving disappointment behind. Inherently, anything that changes is not a reliable basis for enduring contentment and fulfillment.

Yet it is also true that some things remain always the same. In their stillness you can find a refuge, an island in the stream of changes, a place to stand for perspective and wisdom about events and your reactions to them, a respite from the race, quiet amidst the noise. Perhaps even find a sense of something transcendental, outside the frame of passing phenomena.

How?

Stillness, a sense of the unchanging, is all around, and at different levels. Look for it, explore its effects on you, and let it sink in.

For example, although it’s not the ultimate stillness, but there is that lovely feeling when the house is quiet and you’re sitting in peace, house chores are done and family members are fine (or the equivalent), and you can really let down and let go. In your character, you have enduring strengths and virtues and values; situations change, but your good intentions persist. In relationships, love abides – even for people who drive you crazy!

More subtly, there is the moment at the very top of a tossed ball’s trajectory when it’s neither rising nor falling, the pause before the first stroke of the brush, that space between exhalation and inhalation, the silence in which sounds occur, or the discernible gap between thoughts when your mind is quiet.

In your mind there is always an underlying calm and well-being that contains emotional reactions, like a riverbed that is still even as the flood rushes over it. There is also the unchanging field of awareness, itself never altered by the thoughts passing through it.

More abstractly, 2+2=4 forever; the area of a circle will always be pi times the radius squared; etc. The fact that something has occurred will never change. The people who have loved you will always have loved you; they will always have found you lovable. Whatever is fundamentally true – including, ironically, the truth of impermanence – has an unchanging stillness at its heart. Things change, but the nature of things – emergent, interdependent, transient – does not.

Moving toward ultimate matters, and where language fails, you may have a sense of something unchangingly transcendental, divine.

Wherever you find stillness enjoy it and let it feed you. It’s a relief from the noise and bustle, a source of clarity and peace. Give yourself the space, the permission, to be still – at least in your mind – amidst those who are busy.

© 2017 viewpointsofandrei.com

 

Redefining New Year’s Resolutions

 

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Our biology doesn’t recognize the season. Our body doesn’t know the difference between Valentines Day, Halloween or New Year’s Day

People’s desire to start fresh or to draw a line in the sand and step over the old and into the new has been around a long time. There’s nothing wrong with the desire to say this is my last year of illness, or I’m going to do whatever I value even better (my sport, school, job, art, passion). However,  if it’s unrealistic, too much too soon, or tied to an increased level of stress then it’s an invitation not to make the mark and to continue to chisel away at our self-esteem.

That’s often the case! We put unnecessary pressure, not only on ourselves but our body by shocking it into massive change.

Let’s pause and reflect instead. 

CHANGE is a Process

Sometimes our New Year’s resolutions seem as ridiculous as tucking in a newborn baby on December 31st and asking the baby to walk when they wake up the next morning, despite their inability to even hold their head up independently, sit, or crawl. We would never put such an impossible task on someone we love. So why then would we do it to ourselves? It’s because we aren’t gentle enough with ourselves. We put too much pressure on ourselves. We don’t treat ourselves with enough compassion. In fact, sometimes we are just downright mean to ourselves.

Perhaps on December 31st we could whisper softly to ourselves, much like to the new baby: “I can’t wait to watch you change and grow stronger over the next year. To witness your courage as you slowly stand back up, careful to regain your balance when you fall. I’ll be right here, ready to hold your hand.”

Let’s create awareness of how our goals are making us feel, I urge you  to join me as I flip my approach. This coming year, let’s begin a new ritual to redefine our resolutions by getting clear about how we wanted to feel, instead of what we could accomplish.

I will consider the following in making my New Year’s resolutions in order to improve my self-esteem, instead of tearing it down:

  • Set realistic goals.
  • Make my resolutions gradual and sustainable. Small changes rather than unsustainable drastic changes.
  • Remember that change is a process. Make it attainable, which is by far more helpful.
  • Slow down! Make room for subtle shifts which increase my chances of success.
  • Be careful not to add more angst than relief.

Let’s welcome the coming year 2017 with a redefined and fresher outlook! 🙂

(c) 2016 viewpointsofandrei.com

Letting go of your dreams

Like most people, I often confuse myself between my wishes and my dreams — a wish is usually only a passing thought that most people never act on but a dream is something that captures your heart and spirit. It ignites your imagination and fills you with an unquenchable hope. It becomes something you can’t easily set aside.

Dreams consume your thinking and fuel your excitement and passion. It can happen in a single moment, or it can captivate your thoughts for years. Sometimes when the dream is really big, you embrace it, and somehow it feels like the dream embraces you.

Our dreams are often about experiencing a better life, about achieving greater things … they are pictures we have of the future that reveal a part of our lives that will be greater than the past.

But here’s an important point to consider – it takes courage to dream. Any time you dare to dream, there are risks involved. What if it never happens? What if it costs too much? What if people laugh at you?

Do you remember when you were a child and no dream seemed too big? Some of us thought we would walk on the moon; some dreamed of riding with Roy Rogers; others imagined stepping to the plate in a big-league game. Every one of us, when we were young, had a common trait – we were dreamers. The world hadn’t gotten to us yet to show us that we couldn’t possibly achieve what our hearts longed for. And we were yet still years from realizing that in some cases we weren’t built for achieving our dream.

Eventually we started to let our dreams die. People began to tell us that we couldn’t do the things we wanted. It was impossible. Responsible people don’t pursue their dreams. Settle down, get a job, be dependable. Take care of business, live the mundane, be content.

Is that it? Is that the way things work?

Dreams are worthy pursuits as long as they’re consistent with what matters most to us now. Our values evolve over time, and it’s OK to change our dreams to keep up with this evolution.

When you’re young, you want excitement and adventure. You want to prove yourself and make your loved ones proud. You dream big and work hard. As you age, you’ll probably desire more stability. You’ll seek quiet hours and relaxation. You’ll have a greater need for balance and have more concern for your health. You may also trade in some of your own ambition to support the success of your kids or family members.

These generalizations may not describe how your values will change. Change itself, however, is part of maturing. When you embrace it, you’ll open up to a world of new goals and possibilities.

So don’t be afraid to give up on old dreams to make room for new ones. You may not have the life you dreamed of as a child, but you might end up with one you can enjoy as an adult.

(c) 2016 viewpointsofandrei.com

Continue reading “Letting go of your dreams”

Thoughts and Quotes (#Misconception)

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At every stage of our lives we make decisions that will profoundly influence the lives of the people we’re going to become, and then when we become those people, we’re not always thrilled with the decisions we made. So young people pay good money to get tattoos removed that teenagers paid good money to get. Middle-aged people rushed to divorce people who young adults rushed to marry. Older adults work hard to lose what middle-aged adults worked hard to gain. On and on and on. The question that fascinates me is, why do we make decisions that our future selves so often regret?

All of us are seemingly walking around with an illusion, an illusion that history, our personal history, has just come to an end, that we have just recently become the people that we were always meant to be and will be for the rest of our lives.

Why is this so? And why is it that most of us can remember who we were 10 years ago, but we find it hard to imagine who we are going to be, and then we mistakenly think that because it’s hard to imagine, it’s not likely to happen? It’s a pity, when people say “I can’t imagine that,” they are usually talking about their own lack of imagination, and not about the unlikelihood of the event that they’re describing.

The answer unto all this is time. Time is a powerful force. It transforms our preferences. It reshapes our values. It alters our personalities. We seem to appreciate this fact, but only in retrospect. Only when we look backwards do we realize how much change happens in a decade. It is as if, for most of us, the present is a magic time. It is the moment at which we finally become ourselves. Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our life is change.

(c) 2016 viewpointsofandrei.com