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Last Updated on February 18, 2019

Adapting to Change: Why It Matters and How to Do It

Adapting to Change: Why It Matters and How to Do It

The one constant thing in our lives is change.

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future” – John F Kennedy

We cannot avoid it and the more we resist change the tougher our life becomes. Change as John F Kennedy quoted is a Law of Life. We are surrounded by change and it is the one thing that has the most dramatic impact on our lives. There is no avoiding change as it will find you, challenge you and force you to reconsider how to live your life.

In this article, we will look into the importance of adapting to change and how you can adjust yourself to an ever-changing life.

Why Do You Have To Adapt To Change?

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” —Jim Rohn

Change can come into our lives as a result of a crisis, as a result of choice or just by chance. In either situation, we are all faced with having to make a choice – do we make the change or not?

I believe that it is better to be prepared for change because we have more control over how we react to the change we are having to face in our lives.

When you are unprepared and resistant to change, then you have no control or choice as to how you want to live your life. You live your life as a reactionary rather than an activator of change.

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“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” —Lao Tzu

We cannot avoid the unexpected events (crisis) in our lives, as it is these events that challenge us and force us to step out of our comfort zone. If we ignore or hide away from the challenge of change, we deny ourselves the opportunity to learn and grow.

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” —Henri Bergson

Our resilience in life can only grow stronger when we embrace change and manage these challenges in a positive way, rather than hide away and ignore the opportunities that change can bring to our lives.

There is no escaping the impact that change can bring into in your life. Managing change in life is key to living a life where you are not only surviving but thriving as well.

5 Strategies for Adapting to Change

These 5 strategies below are the key steps that will enable you to adapt and successfully manage change in your life.

1. Changing Your Mindset – Your Power Choice

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”.— George Bernard Shaw

We like to live our lives in our comfort zone. Our subconscious likes this because it is the “known”. Embracing change is stepping into the unknown and our subconscious will does not like the “unknown.” so it will resist.

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Our fear and self-limiting beliefs will kick into action when we are faced with the disruptive consequences of change. There is no escaping the fact that change is a disruptor and it feels uncomfortable and scary. However, it is our power of choice that enables us to activate positive change in our lives.

We cannot control the events of change in our life, but we can control how we react to the impact that these events have on our lives.

“Life is about choices. Some we regret, some we’re proud of. Some will haunt us forever. The message: we are what we chose to be.” — Graham Brown

The more you use your power of choice and the more you focus your mindset on positively adapting to change, the more resilient you will be to dealing with impact that change will bring to your life.

2. Find Meaning In Life

“Step out of your comfort zone. Comfort zones, where your unrealized dreams are buried, are the enemies of achievement. Leadership begins when you step outside your comfort zone.” ― Roy T. Bennett

Knowing what is important in your life gives you purpose and sets the direction of how you want to live your life. With a sense of purpose and meaning in life, you have clarity and focus and both these elements are essential to you being able to successfully adapt and manage the impact of change in your life.

Having no purpose or meaning means that you tend to drift in life within the confines of your comfort zone. Purpose and meaning in life gives you the courage to step out of your comfort zone – which is where you will find change and the opportunities it can offer to you.

3. Let Go of Your Regrets

The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” – Steve Maraboli

Regrets have a huge impact on how you respond to change and they hold you back in life. Letting go of your regrets is key to you being able to move forward in life.

It is the events of change that present opportunities in life, so if are looking back at your past you may miss the opportunities of the present and the future.

You cannot change what you did or did not do in the past so let it go. The only control you have now is to choose to live in your present and future life.

A great exercise to deal with regrets in life is to blow up a heap of balloons and on each balloon write a regret. Then, let the balloon go. As the balloon drifts off, out loud say goodbye to that regret.

Very simple but an effective way of dealing with the pile of regrets that you have collected in your lives.

4. Write a List of Scary Things to Do – Then Go Do Them

Change is scary and it is all about stepping out of your comfort zone into the unknown. Our subconscious needs to get familiar with us stepping out of a comfort zone and doing scary things. In fact we want to train our subconscious into believing that stepping out of our comfort zone and doing scary things is a normal thing for us to do.

Make a list of scary things that you would like to do but have been too afraid to. Put a plan in place and then go do them. Go have fun, challenge yourself and get yourself use to the feeling of being scared and stepping into the unknown.

Public speaking is one of the most frightening things for me and for many other people to do. To overcome my fear of public speaking, I joined Toast Masters My first speech I gave was a nightmare. My knees were knocking (didn’t know that was possible – but it is!) and I broke out in a sweat and my voice was a whisper when I started my speech.

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I got through it and though it wasn’t the greatest speech the exhilaration of actually overcoming my fear was amazing. I kept going and know enjoy public speaking so much that I jump at any opportunity to speak.

5. Focus on Living a Balanced and Healthy Life

“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep the mind strong and clear.” – Buddha

Living a balanced and healthy active life builds our resilience and ability to successfully manage the disruption that change can have on our lives.

Stress is a normal response to dealing with changes and challenges in daily life. In the short term, stress can help you perform better under pressure, but constant stress can pose problems for your health.

Finding positive ways to deal with the stress and pressure that we face daily is key to our survival on both a physical and emotional level.

Some healthy lifestyle actions you can use to successfully manage change and disruption in your life are:

There are many more things you can to do to live a health balanced life. The key is that you commit to activities that enable you to be resilient, optimitic, physically and mentally fit to successful work through the impact that change can bring to your life.

Final Thoughts

We all desire to live successful, happy and long lives. To achieve what we all desire we need to be proactive about how we mange the change we face in our lives.

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Denial and resisting change will only result in you living a miserable life. This is why it is so important to learn how to be adaptable, resilient and bold in life because these 3 things are key to you successfully adapting to the constant impact that change will have on your life.

More Resources About Embracing Changes in Life

Featured photo credit: diana spatariu via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

5 Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude

5 Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude

Cultivating a positive mental attitude starts with a realization — a realization that you’re not the only one who has struggled, who has survived, and who has started over again. You are not alone, and there is a way through the darkness. There is simple wisdom, which can be relied upon, to help.

Find support, but also learn self-care in how you treat yourself which is what positivity is all about. That self talk, that perception, that attitude you choose changes you and changes those around you.

According to New Stanford Study: A Positive Attitude Literally Makes Your Brain Better by Jessica Stillman,[1] Stanford researchers studies how the brain was impacted in achievement and learning when one felt or was positive about a subject. The result? Outcomes were much more favorable for that student.

We do well in areas we are positive about. But what if we can choose to be positive about, well, anything? That would change everything.

Positivity is not about just being happy, which is often the misconception. In fact, acknowledging a range of emotions is healthy. Positivity is persistence while using positive thinking strategies. It is sitting with your feelings; it is acceptance of what is; it is holding onto what makes you happy; it is purpose found in pain.

And the reasoning behind choosing to be positive — you get what you give. You receive what you believe.

Here’re 5 steps to cultivate a positive mental attitude. In part, they detail why it’s important to be positive as an understanding assists in the pursuit as much as the adoption of the mindset.

1. Attitude is What We Can Change

There’s a Maya Angelou quote that goes:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

When you choose positivity as your attitude, you select an attitude far more destined for resilient behavior than the alternative.

When you have a negative attitude, your brain gives itself permission to develop negative thinking patterns and in turn, difficult and dark emotions. You spend all your days ruminating, or worrying about the same thing over and over again, thinking that will solve it. Doing this will cause you to miss the answers rather than make the most of the moments in front of you.

In actuality, the first thing you need to do is calm yourself. It feels counterintuitive, but that means to release your troubled mentality. When you release what is bothering you, you choose a safer attitude. One that helps you to accept your emotions, accept what is happening and accept that you don’t have all the answers. You’re less afraid of that fact.

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Attitude is everything. It’s how we heal ourselves. It’s how we stay positive. It’s how we secure things. It’s how we overcome.

Without a positive attitude, we cannot persevere. Perseverance is the point of positivity.

A positive attitude is how we fuel willpower. Willpower is how we fuel positivity. It goes in a circle. They are interchangeable.

Positivity denotes willpower. You can be standing in a storm and feel completely calm when you use positivity. You stay grounded. You stand firm. You do not fall over. And you know what? Even if you do, you get back up again.

There is a Japanese proverb, “Nana korobi ya oki” which means fall seven times, get up eight. This means you do not stop; you keep going. You make it through the hard times to find the good.

A positive attitude is about understanding you have power over your problems. Once you understand that, you can change your attitude. You have to choose positive thinking first in order to reap its benefits. Once you’ve chosen to be positive, you can do anything.

2. Positivity Is Your Unique Power

When you have lost it all, a positive attitude can help you regain it or to regain your strength. It’s the best way to live. It’s the best way to learn from life and love. When you are positive, you have a power that circumstance nor others cannot take from you.

Recognizing the power you have to carry on, to make the best of things, to keep going when everything inside you wants to quit is worth everything.

You can’t always have it all, but you can always have a positive attitude. This in itself helps you stand out, helps you to shine. It’s enough to save yourself (and others potentially) with. That power keeps you grounded and safe.

For example, say you lost someone to a disease. Instead of just thinking about the loss and seeing it as the end, a positive person may decide to contribute to a cause dedicated to that disease. In doing so, the positive person becomes a beacon of hope. They become a voice for something which in turn gives them power over their hardship.

This is how people keep going: Meaning. Meaning creates a power over our emotions, over our loss so that they do not define us.

According to the Mayo Clinic, positivity affects one’s stress levels and overall health.[2] It is that powerful. When you are positive about a situation, you are less stressful and more calm and able to reason better to solve the very problem in front of you.

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Cultivating this power is about realizing a sense of meaning can be derived from all circumstances, even senseless tragedies. People often contribute to something greater than themselves when they are searching for meaning, for purpose, for positivity, for power.

You don’t always have to have a reason for why something happens, but you can use whatever happens for a greater cause. It’s subjective, changing from person to person. That’s why no matter how much you want to derive meaning from an event, there are no outright answers about how to do that.

So, what do you do? Meditate. Listen.

“Whatever purifies you is the right path, I will not try to define it. Let go of your mind then be mindful. Close your ears and listen.” — Rumi

3. Be Absolutely Present

In life, you have control over your ability to be present in the moment, even if not control over everything. You have the moment.

Positivity is telling yourself that this moment is what matters. You can’t regret the past or see the future. The only way to be positive is to be here. What do you have right in front of you? Suddenly, your life shifts to gratitude.

Gratitude serves us in letting go of what we do not need. Listing what makes us happy is one way to stay present. What do you have right now that you can use? You have the tools to be positive.

Some techniques to getting there are through meditations or mantras. For example, “Nothing bad is happening right now” is an easy one to incorporate. Your past traumas can’t trip you when you ground yourself in the present, and your ability to reason further develops to the point that even if you can’t see the future, you know it will play out like this– with you empowered and in the moment, using all your wisdom and tools and positivity to persevere. That’s all you need.

Focus on the moment. In a blog about Mindfulness, Courtney Ackerman writes that one such exercise is to live in the moment to reduce worrying.[3] Think about the past and future in small, manageable doses. But focus mostly on the present, what is happening right here and now. This will reduce worrying and therefore stress as well as other negative emotions significantly.

This will allow you to be positive.

4. Practice Self-Love

Self-talk is the core of self-love, the core of what positivity is all about. Positive self-talk leads to self-love. And when our own cup is empty, we can pour into another’s. We have to help ourselves first before we can help others.

What we say to ourselves is how we practice positivity or put it into action.

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For example, there’s a children’s book called The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper where the train thinks, “I think I can, I think I can” the whole way through its travels. The result? It could because it told itself that it can.

Such a simple concept for a complex world. And yet, it works.

This is also how self-love works. What you tell yourself is powerful and makes its mark. Here are examples of things you could tell yourself to practice positivity:

  • I am enough.
  • I am worthwhile.
  • I can do this, I just have to hold on.
  • I will make it through this.
  • I am powerful.
  • I am unstoppable.

Here’re more examples for you: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life. Add to this list with your own!

When you write these positive mantras, you start to feel them. If you write “I am positive about this situation” enough times, you will start to feel that positivity seep in.

Loving yourself is not going to be easy nor come overnight. There will be a mess of feelings, regrets, negative self talk and more that you will have to carefully tip toe through to hold your own heart. Your heart needs love, and often, we deny what it needs in pursuit of purposeless pleasures such as external rewards rather than internal motivation for a life well lived. We live for what others think of us, say about us, and sometimes, losing it all or going through hardship can teach us what we really need: ourselves.

Loving yourself needs to come from an authentic place, not a “fake it til you make it” mentality. It needs to be real. It needs to include those flaws and all. That’s all you can do to become positive about yourself. You have to start within and do the work necessary to heal and be healthy.

Take a look at these 30 Self Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit and try to practice them.

5. Avoid Toxic Positivity (Unhealthy Positivity)

Avoid the white knuckling type of positivity where you don’t acknowledge your struggles or pain (as they also serve you). You don’t just want to tell yourself to move on because that equates to repression.

Emotions are part of positivity. You want to sit with your feelings. You want to acknowledge them, give them a voice. Instead of telling yourself to move on, you let your emotions lead to a breakthrough that helps you cope with the changes of life.

The greatest misconceptions made about being positive is assuming one does not have to feel in order to change. Throwing away hurt, anger, grief, sadness, all those emotions we associate with being “negative” only thwart our growth and power. Positivity is USING these things to better yourself or the world around you because you’re not going to give in to them. They do not become you or your identity.

You don’t have to be the white knuckling soldier you’ve always been. You say your emotions, then follow up with a use or outlet for them. That makes your positivity profound.

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Positivity is not about wearing a mask; it is the opposite of a mask. It is freedom from negative thinking strategies such as jumping to conclusions, black or white thinking, worst case scenario assumptions and more. It’s acknowledging that there may be more strength or ability in you than previously assumed. And it’s worth it to find out.

Toxic positivity may suggest you simply put a smile on and act fine. That’s not real positivity. Healthy positivity is about showing up when you’re tired; loving when you are feeling loss; healing when you want to cling to your hurt. It’s realization that you are worth it, not worth writing off. And you care about the outcome, so you stay to sort it out. You don’t abandon or jump ship. You hold on. That’s healthy positivity.

So that one day you may say to others, “I see you. I feel you. I understand you,” because you have been where they are and got through it. It’s acknowledging the dark as much as the light.

It’s living so others may live; it’s all you need. It’s not an exact formula everyone can replicate, and no one can copy you either. Your story is important. You are meant to be here. You are meant to do well. It will be those thoughts that get you to the finish line. Thriving.

Final Thoughts

In every moment, you’re not going to want to be positive. There will be times when you want to throw in the towel. But even then, choosing your attitude, recognizing the power of positivity, being absolutely present, practicing self-love and avoiding toxic or unhealthy positivity will better your days and assist through your trials.

Being positive isn’t easy, but it’s worth it to see what is going to happen next. Just around the corner may be the change you need, but you’ll never know if you don’t hold on to find out.

Positivity is about being curious enough to stay for the outcome because you simply believe, hold onto and trust in yourself and some goodness in this world. That’s enough to keep one going, and enough to help them go from surviving to thriving which is where you want to be.

Everyone has low moments. There’s nothing to be ashamed of for that. You can feel negative emotions though without shaming yourself for them by practicing healthy positivity. These steps are how to cultivate a positive mental attitude.

That way you don’t live with regret. You live in the moment. You make the decision how.

You can start at anytime. Positivity can be like a switch of perception. Once you uplift yourself, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. And soon, you’ll be onto uplifting others which helps even more.

Positivity is contagious. It spreads like sunlight over the darkness. You can be the source of that sunlight. All you have to do is simple: Believe you can.

Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Court Prather via unsplash.com

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