What if I told you that purposeful change could be the best thing that ever happened to you?
We often meet change with resistance. Trying to keep it at bay. Fearing how it will disrupt our comfort now. I asked students in my yoga classes this week with a show of hands how many people like change. 1% of students in each class raised their hands. I wonder, what would happen if we met change as the best friend rather than the fearful foe? If we not only embraced change, but invited change to the table of our life?
I’ve been creating a lot of intentional change in my personal and business life these days. Despite being fearful of many of these changes, I find myself energized at a time of the year when I usually feel less motivation with dwindling sunlight in the winter months. While some people are creatures of habit, I recently acknowledged that I thrive as a creature of changing habits. Change is actually what keeps me alive. Gets me unstuck. Opens my mind to possibilities when it otherwise believes that there are none. Even when it doesn’t like it. My favorite philosophers talk about the power of change, the most influential person in my life, the Buddha, taught that change is the very the fabric of life. So what has us thinking we can escape change?
Enter the unknown. If you are anything like me and a majority of the population, we like control. We like predictability. We like the ability to count on what’s next. But if you think about your most impactful moments in life, I bet they had little to do with steadiness and a lot to do with change. Here are some of mine:
The mindset game changer: Moving to Egypt. While finding myself bored studying in college, I decided to open the school newspaper…a paper I never read. An advertisement for a study abroad program meeting starting in ten minutes led me to pack up all my things, go to the meeting, and within five minutes in decide to move to Egypt. Less than 8 months later I landed on the ground in Cairo for the adventure of a lifetime.
The love dream: Going for love. By letting go of my fear of being too forward, I opted to message a budding friend from my yoga class and ask him out for dinner. Now we live together and I’m experiencing the most conscious relationship of my lifetime. I never knew I could have a love so big.
Doing what I didn’t want to: Yoga. Despite my resistance, I took a teacher’s advice to start practicing yoga changing my morning routine of just sitting meditation to include physical movement. Now four days a week I share the teachings of yoga and have completed more than 850 hours of training.
Change that impacts us does not have to be big, yet can create huge lasting change. After all, my foray into teaching yoga started with the simple change of trying it at home one time a week.
Whenever I feel stuck or something isn’t working for me, I know it's an opportunity to open up to small and big change.
Remember the old saying, “what is the definition of insanity? Trying the same thing and expecting a different result?” This wise statement reminds us that change is the way through feeling stuck.
Sometimes change is something completely new. Sometimes the best change is a return to the old. Recently I did a little of both. I changed up my morning routine to start waking up several hours earlier (an old practice). How I structure this time is a dash of old habits revived and new habits in testing. These small changes have created significant results even within the few days of implementing it. Despite thinking I’d be totally exhausted, I’m feeling motivated, inspired, and far more productive than other times in my life. I feel energized and look forward to the silent early morning hours when it's time to climb out of bed.
My decision started with an observation. My morning routine felt stale. I took this feeling as an invitation for change. Several days later while listening to a podcast I heard a teacher speak about the importance of waking up early and how some of the greatest minds were inspired to create their life-changing inventions during the early morning hours. While I’ve followed an early morning routine in the past, something told me this time might feel different. So I followed my intuitive curiosity and picked up my IPhone. As I opened my clock app, I updated my sleep and wake times to reflect an early morning start. By shaking the tree of my morning routine I now wake up each day fresh, excited, and curious.
Do this simple practice to start:
How do you want to feel? Sit with yourself and close your eyes. Follow the question silently in your mind and see what comes up. Ask yourself, what do you want to feel each day? Do you want to feel inspired? Energized? Peaceful? Curious? Relaxed? Now my second question to sit with, do you feel that feeling in your life now? During your mornings? End of day? On a lunch break? If the answer is no, it’s an opportunity for change.
This week’s Joy Tip Wednesday is an invitation to change your life by moving out of the safety of unhappy comfort and into the new territory of discovery. Here’s how:
Commit to making one change for the next week. Take it on a test drive and change one area of your life. Here are some examples of areas that might call out for change:
Morning and evening routines.
What you eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
How much movement you get during a day.
Alone versus social time ratios.
Sound versus silence.
When you complete tasks throughout the day (e-mails, phone calls, projects requiring concentration)
Water versus coffee versus tea versus orange juice
Sneakers versus dress shoes
Podcast versus book
Stay in versus go out.
These areas, options, and small details in your life may be calling for some juice in their veins. Switch it up as a fun experiment just to see what happens.
Observe the impact of the change. Halfway through the week, check in and notice how you feel. How has this change impacted other details and areas of your life? Then keep going.
At the end of the week, take stock of your experience and reflect on the question, what would shift if I embraced change more in my life? Notice what intuitively comes up when you sit with the question. Perhaps you sit with it, pen in hand, and journal. Perhaps you make a nice cup of tea, look out the window and listen to what comes up. Perhaps you gather your best friend, roommate, or partner and have them ask the question and see what you verbally share with them.
Then, if you feel inspired, create a second change for a second week and repeat steps above.
Life is always in motion. Always changing. Reflect on your index finger alone. The nail on your index finger continues to grow and change over time. The cells of your skin die, shed off, and grow anew. The skin gets dry when the dry winter air comes. If your single index finger is changing this much at any given time, imagine how much change life is creating and inviting us to step into at any given moment?
Dance the dance of change and enjoy the ride. It provides us with an opportunity to dust the energetic corners of our being to bring in fresh air, sudsy water, and a new light to change the mood. When you experience the power of intentional change, I guarantee you will start to open yourself up to the power you hold at any given moment to design your own life. And when we understand this the tables turn and we go from victim to leader. From passive to proactive. From follower to creator. Have fun training to scale small buildings. I mean...why not?
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