What causes people to change their behaviors is as interesting to me as what causes people to experience stress. Clearly the two are related: The recent election and the incidents that followed is proof positive of that. People seem to resist change as much as they dislike stress and yet both are an essential part of the fabric of life. We can’t avoid stress just as much as we can’t avoid change.
This was made exceedingly clear last March when the Pandemic first arrived on our shores.* As a society we made enormous changes (some dictated by law) in order to minimize the spread of virus. Millions of people, practically overnight, went from commuting to work everyday to working from home. Millions of people went from total freedom to total lockdown. We went from socializing and meeting with relatives, friends and coworkers outside the home to socializing and meeting through zoom.
As patently obvious as all that is, what’s not so obvious is how we changed in big ways, and in ways we NEVER would have considered possible before and we did it quickly. In other words, without too much prodding or poking or reminding, many of us went from a life full of freedoms to a life full of restrictions and lots of new rules, without a whole lot of kicking a screaming (With notable exceptions, of course.)
Before the pandemic, I felt the only way I could possibly exercise was by going to gym. Now I exercise at home more easily and efficiently with tons of free classes online. (Check out FitnessBlender.com) Before the pandemic the only way my wife and I could get together with our daughter on the west coast was to get on a plane. Now we have very satisfying get-togethers online. (You now not only know ABOUT Zoom, you know how to use this computer software system quite well.) Before the pandemic the only way I could shop for most things was by going to the store. Now I shop for most things online. Before the pandemic the only way I could party with friends and neighbors was by having them in my home or going to theirs and with us or them supplying the food and drink. Now we do it on walks, on decks, or even in driveways and parking lots and everyone brings their own food and drink.
I mention all these things that you may already be doing too, because of how – even though these ways of doing things turned out to be sometimes better, faster, easier, more fun and less expensive, I NEVER WOULD HAVE EVEN CONSIDERED doing them this way BEFORE THE PANDEMIC! Can you imagine the degree we all would have resisted to making these changes, if we didn’t HAVE to? And now we find out, much to our surprise, that once made by force, many of them have lead to better ways of doing things than how we did them before!
For me, the takeaway from this is that when life forces us into making changes, maybe we shouldn’t fight it so hard. Maybe we should look at options for acceptance and see each change as an opportunity to get out of the rut we are ALL in MOST OF THE TIME. You may hate to make a change but if life never changed at all, you would be bored out of your mind. Dr. Robert Eliot wrote a best-selling book on stress where he coined the phrase: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Eliot also liked to also say: “If you can’t fight and you can’t flee: FLOW.”
Change is something we certainly need to flow with, and as unfortunate as this pandemic has been for an awful lot of people, I’m taking away certain things that I won’t change once it’s over.
*I’ve been exceptionally fortunate to have experienced no egregious loss in this pandemic. So I hope this short, deliberately upbeat article, doesn’t unintentionally disrespect the losses that I know many people have suffered during this time.