The seasons have changed (at least according to the calendar) and life continues to change all around us! The challenge for most of us is how to embrace change, adapt to change or ignore change in our lives and in our world.
Over the last month, there have been many changes in our household. My wife’s Father fell and broke his hip, setting into motions some significant changes for him and for those close to him and for those who care about him. Accepting new limitations on mobility and restrictions on when and how to move are BIG changes. Denise and I thank you for your prayers and support as we continue to offer assistance and care for/to and with her Parents.
In the midst of all the changes, I began to reflect upon change and realized that change is not a choice, it is inevitable. And, How we respond to change is a choice. So, I share these random reflections on change and an article from Bronnie Ware published for the AARP magazine in February 2012.
“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” C. S. Lewis
When we take the time to reflect upon the natural environment, we begin to observe a complex yet very beautiful world cycling through patterns, phases and through stages of transition. We also quickly realize that nothing ever stands still, that nothing ever maintains its current state, identity or shape for very long. In fact, all of nature cycles through seasons of change and transformation, effortlessly and naturally — just like humans transition through psychological and physical states of transformation throughout our lives.
Transformation/Change is a natural part of life and an important component of human evolution. It is something that is unavoidable, inevitable and yet very manageable. Our circumstances, needs, desires, and behaviors must therefore naturally change and evolve alongside these cycles of life, or we risk undermining our personal levels of happiness and fulfillment.
When our psychology and behaviors are in harmony with these rhythms, we begin to flow through life naturally and effortlessly. During these times, we understand that our current life circumstances are only temporary, and we, therefore make use of what we have to the best of our abilities. On the other hand, when we resist these natural rhythms, we sell ourselves short and consequently struggle with the conditions that life throws our way.
What others have said about change:
Anne Bradstreet – “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
There is nothing permanent except change. Heraclitus
If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Maya Angelou
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Wayne Dyer
And my favorite “change” Quote is from Margaret Mead: “Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.”
5 Top Regrets of the Dying -Don’t wait until your health fails before living the life you want to live by Bronnie Ware, February 1, 2012
For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to 12 weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected: denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Yet every single patient found peace before departing. Every one of them!
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced. Here are the most common five:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have not honored even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they’d made, or not made.
It’s important to try to honor at least some of your dreams along the way. It’s too late once you lose your health. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
This came from every male patient I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end, it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks, and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks: love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called comfort of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to themselves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying. Life is a choice. It is your life. Choose consciously, choose wisely and choose honestly. Choose happiness.
Denise and I have had to have some earnest and very serious conversations about end of life choices and the conversations have given me an opportunity to think about change. The only time we STOP changing is when we cease to be or DIE. Change is what life is about. Embrace the changes of life and enjoy the ride with those you love! Never miss the opportunity to tell the people you Love that you Love them!
Aren’t you glad that God’s Love is for everyone – And that you get to share the Love of God with everyone? The only thing in life that never changes is God’s Love.