The following is an excerpt from The Practice of Happiness, a book by John Kehoe.
It is only natural to crave stability in this fast-paced world of ours. But when you understand the nature of reality it becomes very obvious that change is the only constant. Everything is in the process of becoming something else.
The seasons flow from summer to autumn to winter to spring. The tides ebb and flow. The cycles of the moon wax and wane. The cells in our body are constantly changing and re-creating themselves. The circumstances we meet each day are different from the ones that existed before. Look closely at life and you will discover it consists of constant change. Nothing remains the same — all life is movement and change.
Your friends change, your beliefs change, your values change, your work changes, your marriage changes, kids grow up, parents get older. It is the cosmic dance of change and movement, and understanding the nature of our reality can assist us to be more in harmony with the process.
You will change whether you want to or not. You will change whether you like it or not because you cannot and will not remain the same. This is the law of constant change. This is the truth of who we are. Accepting and understanding this is to transform our life. Forget stability; it is an illusion. Better to actively participate in the flow and change; don’t fight it — embrace it. It is easier to flow with the current than against it. Life always flows forward, bringing with it constant change.
Take a more flexible approach to life. Being rigid, fearing and fighting change, whether the change is internal or external, is doomed to failure. The better approach is to jump into life and appreciate the flow and movement.
Saying Yes to Life
Say yes to life. Jump into the river of life and say yes. Flow effortlessly and gloriously along, saying yes to the flow. Yes to the rapids. Yes to the dark mysterious waters. Yes to the stagnant pools and yes to the beauty. Yes to the sharp jagged rocks that sometimes cut and maim. Yes to the shallows where we get stuck. Yes to the strange currents and eddies that take us to unknown parts of the river without us understanding why. Yes to the scenery constantly changing. Yes to it all as we continue on our way, propelled by a force larger and grander than we can ever hope to understand. Yes to it all.
You can never step in the same river twice.
— Zen saying
Comfort is the enemy of change. Why change when things are nice and comfortable? But life knows how to get us to change when we’re stuck in a rut or not moving as we should. Discomfort, tragedy, illness and misfortune, though always unpleasant, are all wonderful sources of change and movement. Sometimes it’s the carrot and sometimes it’s the stick, but if you do not make the changes that are needed in your life, life will make them for you. Make no mistake you are called to act upon your life.
There can’t be a crisis next week, my schedule’s already full.
— Henry Kissinger
Whenever someone says to me they are going through a midlife crisis, I always respond: «How wonderful!» and I mean it. How wonderful that, at your midpoint in life, your psyche shakes you up and demands that you look at your life, your values, your goals. It makes you re-examine everything.
Midlife crises are never enjoyable they are terrifying and confusing (assuming that you’re having a half-decent one). You go through anguish and despair, but they are always valuable. Always.
When you come out the other side you have a clearer sense of what is important and what is not. It’s like a rebirth, a second chance. What a wonderful thing to happen at this stage of your life. Otherwise you might end up like the man who climbed the ladder of success only to discover it was up against the wrong wall.
You can make whatever changes you want in your life. Life likes changes. Life is change. There is a renewal, a rebirth, a renaissance when you change habits, beliefs and goals.
A renaissance within simply means changing your priorities. What was once important becomes unimportant. What was inconsequential becomes urgent. What was ignored is now given the utmost attention. This shift of priorities produces startling changes both within and without.
We have to change our patterns of reacting to experience. For our problems do not lie in what we experience but in the attitude we have towards it.
— Akong Rimpache