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How We Are Saved By Change

04/15/2015 11:58 am ET | Updated Jun 15, 2015
Jeff Minarik 2012-2013 Chicago, IL via Getty Images

I don't want to be a stayer -- you know the gal at the party who is the very last to leave. Yet there are times when it all feels so fun and good that I don't want to go. Like ever. Like I want to bare-knuckle grip this moment so that it never ends.

But of course it does. No matter how tight I'm holding the kids start crying and the wine runs out and the sink fills with dirty dishes and the moment shifts into something new.

We dread that part of change. The movement from what we love, or at least what we can handle, into something, well, different. Undefinable, uncertain until the very moment it arrives.

We get so nervous about losing the moment we are in, that we forget how good change can be. It saves us, really. Change rescues us from the bad days, allows us to go on when we don't think we can. It is the clearest reminder that this crap won't last forever -- probably won't even last until tomorrow -- so baby we CAN HANDLE one more second of this moment. We can. And as soon as we know that, ha, it's over and we get to move into the next one feeling a teeny bit better.

This is HUGE relief of course if you are buried in a miserable moment, because you can be certain that it will end. This second will be different than the next.

Baby Steps

It does not take big changes or big decisions or ultimatums to change a life. It takes baby steps. Persistent, consistent, I-am-not-going-to-quit baby steps.

Every significant change starts with a baby step. Standing up when you are used to sitting down, speaking up when you are usually quiet, taking action when you are usually still.

When you do this, participate in the moment, the moment morphs into something you can manage. Then, change becomes the ally, the thing that takes us from loneliness to love, poverty to abundance, sickness to health. It's the sunrise after darkness, and spring blooms after winter death, and it's the kid, who never used to sleep, hugging you goodnight before she drifts off.

This is the nature of life. It's fascinating and dynamic and yet we cuss it and complain about it and worry about the changes that may come. We hold tight to what we know, and worry about what's ahead even if we don't like where we are right now. This "I hate change" position keeps us stuck in difficulty and rooted in the status quo.

Stay Curious

But if you stay curious, you are most decidedly not going to stay stuck and you'll find you can manage even the biggest changes with panache'.

Curiosity can turn transition into an exploration. It fosters engagement and learning and growth. When we are curious we pay attention and seek meaning and, instead of becoming stuck in the undertow of change, we become participants in the dynamic process of it. Change becomes something we manage rather than something that happens to us. All of a sudden it doesn't seem so daunting.

Three Ways Curiosity Can Help Manage Change

Curiosity is an active thing. It pushes you out the door and into life, even though you are a little afraid of the new neighborhood. And pretty soon, you begin to find your way this around this new life, and then you lose track of how hard the transition is because you are too busy living with it.

Here's how to practice a more curious approach to life.

1. Take in something new and novel. I did a new cardio machine at the gym today. I was scared. About fell off because I couldn't get my legs churning with the pedals. Yeah, well. Never claimed to be graceful. But I kept at it. Paid attention and by the end of the 30 minutes I OWNED that thing. Doing something new made a dull workout interesting and time passed quickly. And let me tell you, I'm all for time passing quickly at the gym.

Novelty does not require you to do crazy things like climb mountains or eat crickets, but it does encourage you to do things differently. And this is a pretty interesting and expansive way to live.

2. Question what you don't know. As adults we often want to be seen as the experts, after all we waited 30 years (some of us a bit more) to be the one in charge, in the know. But, vitality and resilience come when you are willing to learn about what you don't know. If you are reading and come across a word you haven't heard, look it up. If a friend says they're travelling to Cozumel, find out where that is. If your child's third grade math homework is too tough for you to handle (maybe that's just me) then learn along with him how to solve the equations. Explore the answers to the questions that come up in life rather than letting them go.

3. Do the thing that feels exhilarating -- and a little scary. There is a fine line between exhilaration and anxiety, but when you take on the thing you've always wanted to do, you'll feel a rush. Inspiration usually follows. Then there is room for creativity and innovation and possibility -- which will lead to more changes, of course, but good ones.