Each week I make a to-do list with a naive certainty that everything will come to pass. I act like nothing else will come into my life at exactly 8:30 when it’s time to write the blog post, or that my husband will always walk in at 4:15, or that I’ll find just what I need at the grocery store. And, within about, oh, say, 12 minutes, the certainty of that to do list has been tossed for a sick kid or late meeting or last-minute phone call or bad broccoli selection.
Intellectually we know uncertainty is the only thing we can truly count on, yet we don’t handle it very well. We operate under the presumption that we control our lives and when anything happens that we didn’t expect we believe something is wrong. That the Universe is messing with us. We stew about screwed up schedules, and huff about missed appointments and worry about unexpected lab results and the money we don’t yet have. We feel mad, or unlucky.
Not only do we try to manipulate future outcomes, we assume that the changes and uncertainties that are bound to come, are going to be bad. Change doesn’t imply something negative is bound to happen, just something different.
Heck, you might fall on the sidewalk and break your leg, or you might fall and while getting up find 20 bucks on the street. You might lose your job, only to get hired by your dream company a week later. Uncertainty doesn’t always yield trouble.
Still, we cling to what we know. We attach (as Buddha would say) to where we are now. And we set ourselves up for suffering because when we hold on so dang tight, we become constricted and fearful. We worry about losing what we have, instead of enjoying what we have.
And we will lose it. Our lives are in constant motion, expanding and constricting and all that we know will fade and change. The way it was will end in the way it is. What you know will disappear. It’s nature’s way. Impermanent, ever-changing.
What if you could embrace the uncertainty instead of worrying about it? What if you chose to sit in gratitude with the present moment and in faith that the future will hold just what it must to help you grow? What if you believed that you are enough for whatever comes your way?
You can. Start now. Instead of imagining all that could go wrong, start by imagining all that could go right.
On Wednesday, I’ll offer some specific tips that can help you thrive during change and uncertainty. You don’t have to be caught up in a cycle of worry, instead you can be excited by opportunity.