English Sandy Koop Special Column

The Secret to Adapting to Change(Part 3)

At one point in our children’s lives, we enjoyed raising Shetland Sheepdogs. Skye and Lad gave us several litters of adorable puppies. Then, the unforeseen struck. Skye was hit by a car. We buried her under a favorite maple tree and talked about our good times with her. What a wonderful dog and companion she had been.

A few years later, Lad also passed away. We buried him also under the maple tree. Instead of sadness and grief, we experienced a reverie of happiness as we laid Lad to rest with his mate. Each one of our kids talked freely about the good times we had with our pets. Soon smiles glowed freely on their faces through their tears. Instead of a place of morbid grief, we had transformed our emotions to happy memories. The maple tree was no longer a place for tears but remembering our Sheltie pets. Their warm shaggy coats always needing to be brushed; their love of herding the chickens and the children; their shrill barks when strangers came to the house; We felt so blessed to have enjoyed the companionship of these wonderful Shelties. Our hearts were actually grateful.

Changing our attitude about our losses helped us through the sad times of life. It really works. Rename your attitudes and see what a difference that can make.

The secret is changing our mindset about the situation. We all like our comfort zones. We dislike being forced to go outside our comfort zones. Not only, that it is scary, dark and lonely out there.

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. – Andre Gide

Now this is where we must be strict with our comfort loving selves. Look at the situation change is inflicting on you.Ask yourself tough questions:

  • How did I get here?
  • How do I really feel about it?
  • How can I get my self out of this predicament?

First, name the ugly emotions you are feeling about the world. Calling our negative emotions by name can defang them. They lose their poser over us. Look at the situation from a new perspective. What new emotions or results can you see instead of the destructive negative ones? Rename your old problem and see the benefits you can derive from it.

Take Covid 19 as example: vaccinations, quarantines are horrid. They infringe on our work, school, economics, and leisure time. However, many families are forging better people skills. Parents are spending more time with their kids at home. Kids are learning to help people in the neighborhood or school. In fact, they are inspiring adults with their innocent and childlike efforts to bring smiles to faces.

First responders, police and medical staff are appreciated as never before. Rescue pets are adopted at record speed at the pet shelters. People crave pets’ unconditional love and loyalty as never before.

Volunteerism is increasing. Children, teens, senior citizens, the disabled, all lend their talents and abilities to help those less fortunate than them. Everyone wants to be part of the action. Restaurants and fast-food places are becoming highly creative in finding ways to deliver food and serve the public.

Rebranding the negative can bring positive feeling back again. After renaming the negative with positive terms, the next thing we can do is to find new meaning in life.

Many people just drift in life, not finding real direction or value in their careers or family life. The need a sense of purpose and passion to achieve more than the same old same old. Take college courses, start a new hobby, learn a new skill, travel, make new friends, volunteer your services for a community project. Do something to widen your horizons. Give new meaning and purpose to your life.

Second, stop looking backward. Stop saying, “if only…”
Regrets never solved anything. False guilt only deepens the depression. Forgive yourself for not being a perfect person. Forgive others if there is a need. Forgiveness allows us to embrace life as fully as possible. It gives us wings and breaks negative chains.

Third, remember that stress takes energy out of your body. Energy is crucial for your body to fight off disease. Give it the best nutrition, exercise and rest, while avoiding unhealthy diets and addictions which lower your body’s resistance and immune systems. In short, listen to your body. Do not push it beyond what it can manage.

Fourth, add fun and adventure to your life. Try sports and hobbies you have never done before. Go on vacation. If you cannot go on a two-week cruise, explore your local park, farmer’s market, school field days etc. Laugh and have fun.

Stop comparing yourself to your neighbors, your kid sister or your neighbor’s car with yours. More negative vibes come from comparison than you may realize. Be who you are and be proud of it. Envy and jealousy are deadly emotions that eat you alive.

Negative emotions, negative words, negative gossip should be thrown away in the garbage bin for disposal. These bring up such negative feelings and depression. Speak positively and honestly about family, your friends and loved ones.

“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate. It oppresses.” Carl Jung

Be a lifelong learner. You should not stop learning when you finish your formal education. The world is expanding its knowledge at incredible rates. We will lose our way if we do not keep pace with the explosion of knowledge.Read, take a course, join a debate club, try out for a quiz show like Jeopardy. Open your mind to the wonders of the world that you never have taken time for before. You will be amazed and marvel at the wonderful world we live in. Such a sense of wonder that will make you enthusiastic about living.

Abe Lincoln told this humorous story: A traveler wandered into a restaurant as he needed a good meal for his journey. He ordered a dinner and talked to the owner as he ate. Curious, he asked the man what the townspeople were like in this little village.

Instead of answering, the cook asked the traveler,” What are people like where you come from, stranger?”
The traveler grinned, “Why, where I come from, we got the friendliest, kindest people you ever saw. They help anybody who has a need. They are honest, hardworking, and fun loving.” The cook nodded and replied, “Well, folks are pretty much like there here as well.”

A few days later, another stranger came to the town’s only restaurant. The cook gladly fixed him a meal. This stranger was not so talkative. But the cook asked him where he was going and what people were like where he came from. The traveler spoke angrily, “In my town, people are so mean and selfish. No body will go out of his way to help anybody else. They are rude, illiterate, dishonest, horse thieves. I cannot wait to be away from there. What are people like here in this little town?

The cook tried to hide a smile on his face. “Well, I think you will find people here are pretty much just like those folk in your old town.”
What was Lincoln’s point with this story? Talk about it with a family member of a friend.

Even though we have been discussing change, there is one category of permanent or at least semi-permanent things in this changing earth. Natural wonders are not eternal, but they give us the feeling of permanence. The Rocky Mts. The Pacific Ocean, The Sahara Desert, The Amazon Jungle, the volcanoes, the Great Coral Reef, for examples. Can you gaze upon the Himalayas? or the Alps and not feel their strength and majesty?

Another category consists of our ideals, values, and beliefs: Love, Joy, Justice, Honesty, Responsibility, Confidence, Faith, Forgiveness, Mercy, Honor, Obedience, Freedom, Truth. These are all qualities that stand the test of time. They are essential to our world and individual lives.

Where do these qualities come from? From One who changes not. He stands throughout the years of time and eternity. The same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever. It is faith in His Love and Mercy, which can help us face change.

Focus on the Eternal and you will lose your fear of change.

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