Life is often like a roller coaster. It's full of ups and downs and as the coaster clicks and clacks and jars us back and forth, we are bound to get scared, lose our lunch (or sunglasses), smile, scream or laugh with tears before it comes to a stop.
We ride the ride and when it's done, we are either glad it is over or we can't wait to go back for more. If you are reading this blog, chances are you are devoting time and energy towards some aspect of your own inner growth - and as students and teachers of our own journeys, we often choose to get back on that coaster time and time again as the bumps smooth out, the jarring gets more tolerable - and the ride becomes much more enjoyable. After all, looking around at the scenery down below from atop the highest coaster hill that we had to climb up to get to - is pretty wonderful.
In a recent metaLyf Leadership Group, we had an interesting observation regarding the extreme highs and lows of the ride called Life. It was noted that when we are in a 'great place' and all things seem to be aligned in our world for the moment, there is often little or no interest in continuing to grow, including giving and receiving support from others. After all, if you feel really good, why fix what's not broken? In a similar manner, it was noted that when we are feeling extremely low at any given time, we may often tend to avoid working on ourselves, including giving and receiving support for others - as we simply want to be alone when the coaster bottoms out.
So we're curious as to why this is? Why do we often invest time, energy and money to help us solve minor to significant challenges or make improvements in our life while avoiding investing time, energy or money when the challenges are extreme? Why do we often work on ourselves when things are 'not ok' or 'just good' and leave things alone when they are 'great' or when they are 'terrible'?
One perspective that we might not have thought about is that we tend to be uncomfortable with one of most basic laws of the Universe: The Law of Change.
The Law of Change states that everything is in the constant process of becoming something else. Change happens everywhere and with everyone and is unavoidable. In the Universe, where our sun will burn out in a few hundred million years, change is happening. In the subatomic world, where particles are colliding with one another and morphing into something else in thousandths of a second, change is happening. Everything is always changing. This is true in every aspect of our lives all around us.
Though we like to try to have control over our lives, the truth is every aspect of us, from our body's cells to our relationships with every other thing and person, is in constant change.
To avoid change, when we are riding the roller coaster at the peak of the hill and feel weightless, we tend to choose comfort in wanting that feeling to stay. We don't want to do anything, especially change something, that might jeopardize the high of being at the top in any given situation. By the same token, when we are at the bottom of the hill and feeling many times the weight of our own body bearing down on us during a negative state, we actually want to feel comfortable there too. By curling up and avoiding people, programs and support that can help us move out of the bottom and climb up again, we are feeling comfortable by choosing not to change. At the end of the day, it is easier to stay where we are at - and when in a negative state like depression - staying is easier and avoiding doing anything about it helps us feel comfortable.
Our minds and associated emotions, thoughts and behaviors are very powerful. Evolution has conditioned them to stay safe and comfortable to ensure our survival when we used to have to hunt and kill our own food and avoid being food for other predators. Luckily, those days are over and our need to feel safe has changed - just like everything else in the world - and it's time to update our minds to serve us in a more effective way in today's environment.
So if everything in our life is changing each and every second and we are doing all we can to avoid change by keeping things the same, maybe......just maybe - that's one of the most significant causes of what depresses us and what keeps us afraid of losing the feelings of happiness and joy.
We already know the answer on what to do... Embrace change rather than fight it. Know that it is a natural law and that anything we do to try to prevent change will ultimately take us off the top of the hill or keep us at the bottom for longer than we want.
So let's start with knowing that when we are at the top and feeling good - it will change. The most effective choice then becomes to get ahead of the change and continue focusing on our growth - and seek out the support and help from others even while feeling great at the top. Likewise, when in a low spot, know that it too will change and choose to focus on your own growth to move back up the hill sooner and with greater result. In both cases, seek out the support and help from others and do the same for them. You will be amazed at how the roller coaster ride smooths out over time quicker and easier, when we choose to embrace change with the support of others...
Keep Goin! And know that it doesn't have to be lonely at the top...or the bottom.