Be a Change Master!

By Keith Varnum 

The person who masters change, masters happiness.

The best way to thrive in today’s ever-fluid, volatile world, is to become a master of change.

A “Change Master” not only welcomes, invites and celebrates the flux of constantly evolving life, but also consciously drives and directs these rhythms. When you live “smart,” you drive change. You don’t have to let change drive you. When you shift from a “resistance-to-change” mindset toward a self-empowered frame of mind, you unlock your vitality, creativity and spirit. The better you manage change, the better you manage your happiness.

Change, the Unwelcome Guest

Most of us were not raised to welcome change. On the contrary, our modern Western culture promotes the opposite: the pursuit of predictability. We’re advised to try to keep our life as regular, set and stable as possible. The status quo is sacred. The unknown future is portrayed as dangerous and threatening. “Don’t rock the boat!” we’re admonished.

The collective strategy is that the more aspects of our life that remain the same, the less we have to adjust and adapt. And the less we have to change, the easier life will be. The party line is that change is inevitable—unfortunately!—but certainly no fun. Having to constantly change and grow is experienced as a struggle—a challenging, hard ordeal—by most of our elders. Their motto: “Avoid change at all costs.” Look at the message of our public buildings. They are granite monuments to immutability and permanence.

Make Change Your Ally

Indigenous peoples have a different approach to change. Native peoples live closer to Nature than most Westerners do. And they take their cue from Mother Nature who advises: “Make change your friend, your ally. Allow change to work for you, not against you.” The natural world suggests we learn to roll with the punches, so we can enjoy life exuberantly expressing itself through continual change.

Feng-shui Your Life

If we observe elements of nature, we see that water and wind flow with the life’s tides of constant change. Water and wind are flexible and fluid, willing to transform shape immediately with the fluctuating forces acting upon them. They move in the direction of change. They take the quickest, easiest path—the path of least resistance—no matter what shifts in form are required.

Hence, the whole philosophy and practice of Feng-shui: the art of nurturing energy flow, health and aliveness. The very term literally means “the way of wind and water.” In Chinese, “feng” means wind, “shui” means water.

Change as Opportunity

Native peoples wisely view change as a personal opportunity, not as a threat. They know that change brings fresh perspectives and new possibilities. Indigenous peoples look for the gift in every curve ball that life throws us. Indigenous cultures welcome the surprise and spontaneity that naturally accompany change. They know that the more we flow with the fluctuations of life, the more resilient and happier we are.

“How Can I Steer Change to My Advantage?”

A very smart question to ask! Knowing that change is inevitable and ever-occurring, tribal peoples intuitively respond to life’s fluctuations ahead of time—rather than waiting until life forces them to change, reacting after the fact. Looking ahead with excitement and clarity, native peoples anticipate the inevitable twists and turns of life’s winding river. They prepare themselves and their lives to bend, re-arrange and transform to harmonize with the upcoming meanderings of the river. They know that change is life’s agent of renewal and strategy of survival.

The Myth of Change as Struggle

Contrary to popular belief, change does not have to be hard! Change can be difficult if we choose to fight it or deny it—like the perennial ostrich, sticking its head in the sand and pretending something doesn’t exist. When we’re in denial, changes come at us “out of the blue!” When we don’t prepare ourselves for life’s rollicking rollercoaster, we don’t enjoy the ride.

But if we get proactive and anticipate change, we can not only flow with the current, but also direct the current. We can lead change by taking the initiative to take creative steps ahead of time that allow the inevitable to be accommodated with ease and even joy! A Change Master chooses to embark in new directions, to experiment with different options, and to surf the waves of change as a fun life adventure.

Intuition to the Rescue!

With today’s fast-moving pace, action often has to be taken with limited or imperfect information about the future. Without all the necessary facts, the analytical mind doesn’t know what to do. But intuition does!

A Change Master consults intuition—inner guidance, instincts, “gut feeling”—when sufficient data is not available.

The analytical side of our consciousness organizes and stores information. The intuitive side immediately retrieves all relevant data and experience from the full depth and breadth of our lifelong experience in order for us to make wise decisions. The analytical mind is to intuition as a file cabinet is to the supercomputer at the Pentagon. Intuition functions a thousand times faster than the mind. And has resources a million times more vast.

A Change Master uses intuition to improve his or her ability to improvise and adjust quickly to change. Intuition helps us to not only survive, but to thrive!

Human Intuition Saves a Family

Humans also have precognitive abilities, but usually don’t use them as much as animals. Susan, one of my coaching clients, is an exception. One day she received a very strong intuitive knowing to sell her family’s home and move. Loving the house, neighborhood and schools, her husband and children didn’t want to uproot their lives without a good  “rational” reason. Her certainty in the accuracy of her intuition fortunately convinced the family to relocate. The week after the their home was sold and the moving van had left with all their possessions, the house was destroyed in the 1994 Northridge, California, 6.8 magnitude earthquake!

With an open, willing attitude toward life’s inevitable fluctuations, a Change Master can discern the probable path of the future and make pre-emptive adjustments to make the transition easier when it comes. If we are in denial or blinding fear about the future, we can’t get ourselves ready to handle the shifts with grace. With an accepting approach, we can intuitively predict the course of our future and arrange our life to take the fullest advantage of the changes.

Develop a ”No Limit” Attitude

An expansive, far-ranging attitude is more important than ever in today’s world. Change creates new opportunities—for people who nurture the creativity and responsiveness (response-ability) to capitalize on them. Appreciate and validate your own unique, signature approach to solution-finding (problem-solving) and decision-making. You can boost the quality of your planning and projects by approaching change with a spirit of curiosity, playfulness and confidence.

A Change Master avoids premature judgment and rejection of ideas—and suspends preconceptions, assumptions and biases. A Change Surfer goes beyond simply rearranging the already “known” options into seeking whole new horizons.

A Change Rider stretches his or her consciousness to envision what’s possible, not just what is. If you foster your natural strengths, you can respond successfully to all life’s challenges.

The Alchemy of Humor, Laughter and Play

A Change Master balances humor with competence—to achieve the delicate balance between keeping things light and flowing and getting things done fast and well. The efficiency and health benefits of lightness and play are immediate and cumulative. Humor relieves tension, gets you unstuck, and keeps you out of mental ruts. Playfulness activates creative thinking, imagination and vividness—and helps you keep your cool when things heat up. Laughter opens the door to wonderment and greater responsiveness and flexibility.

A Change Master employs “re-creation” as it was intended—to re-generate vigor and longevity. Place yourself in conducive environments that stimulate spontaneity and inventiveness.

Tis a Gift!

It’s to your advantage to turn with the seasons and roll with the times. In the words of an old Shaker song:

Tis a gift to be simple,

Tis a gift to be free,

Tis a gift to come round where we ought to be.

And in turning, turning, turning, we come out right,

We enter the land of joy and delight.