Change is My Friend

We are living in a time of accelerating change and uncertainty, which can feel chaotic and threatening. Animals, including us humans, have an instinctive tendency to automatically react to sudden changes as threats. Throughout most of humanity’s existence, life-threatening dangers were prominent and a hair-trigger reactivity served to protect us in a world that included saber-toothed predators. Humans haven’t changed much biologically in the last hundred thousand years. Our nervous systems are wired to fight, flee, or freeze at a moment’s notice.

When triggered by fear or anxiety, we react as though we are face-to-face with real danger even if there is none. This may be our automatic way of operating, but it is not the only way. We can learn to intervene with a beam of conscious awareness and interrupt our automatic reactions. We can train our tricky brains to go beyond fight-or-flight. There is another way, however.

The situations we face nowadays rarely, if ever, involve life-or-death, split-second decisions. In the absence of real life-threatening danger, we are free to become more creative and develop potentials that go beyond merely ensuring survival. Rather than feeling threatened, we can come to regard change as a friendly force. “Change is my friend,” is a visionary belief that is promoted in the Belief Engineering chapter of my book, Great Decisions, Perfect Timing.

People who see change as a positive force are more optimistic and can enjoy the up-and-down flux of life. In order to embrace change, we need to develop a more fluid relationship to time. People who fear change essentially want time to stand still. Their subconscious wish is for the illusory safety of a fixed and stable universe. The mechanical division of time into hours, minutes, and seconds – brought about by the recent invention of clocks – clogs the spontaneous flow of life energy. In order to fully relax, visionaries find ways to free their minds from the domination of linear time. They understand the value of “time outs” to intentionally loosen that domination by society’s over-controlling mechanical approach. This is good, but in actuality, there is nothing to escape, because if we take our eyes off the clock, our experience of time has a natural plasticity to it.

When we enjoy life, time seems to go too fast. When we are in resistance to circumstances, it seems to crawl. As so many great teachers have shown, the secret of joyful living is to maintain awareness of what is happening in the one time that is real – the present moment – and forget about future and past. To improve our strategic thinking and decision-making, we need to let go of trying to control things long enough to give our intuition a chance to be actively receptive.

Visionary decision-makers stay aware of how life is always in flux. The ultimate solution to “time management” is to develop a lifestyle where we can better transcend the measuring and parceling of time, and strengthen our intuitive sense of timing. Good timing, a fundamental component of every strategic decision, is the secret of surfing unpredictable waves of change. When we come to regard change as a friendly force, the success brought about by our improving sense of timing will provide encouragement to cultivate intuitive intelligence all the more … and life becomes an adventure rather than a hunkering down.

 

Stumbling Toward Enlightenment

Jaimal Yogis is author of the book, All Our Waves Are Water: Stumbling Toward Enlightenment and the Perfect Ride. A graduate of Columbia Journalism School, Jaimal’s magazine reporting has won awards like the 2005 Leslie Rachel Sanders Award for Social Justice Reporting, a 2007 Maggie Award for “Best Magazine Feature,” and two Scripps Howard reporting scholarships. In 2010, The Common Wealth Club voted him “The New Face of San Francisco Media” for his popular writing in San Francisco Magazine. His stories have also been published in ESPN Magazine, AFAR, Runner’s World, The Surfers Journal, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and many others. He has been a guest-lecturer at UC Berkeley, Columbia University, and San Francisco State. A few years ago, Jaimal was on Pathways for an interview about his first book, Saltwater Buddha — a coming of age memoir about running away from home to surf then nearly becoming a Zen monk.

Solitude: Seeking Wisdom in Extremes-A Year Alone in the Patagonia Wilderness

Bob Kull discusses his adventures and his book, Solitude: Seeking Wisdom in Extremes-A Year Alone in the Patagonia Wilderness. Years after a motorcycle accident left him with one leg, Bob traveled to a remote island in the Patagonia wilderness with supplies to live completely alone for a year. He sought to explore the effects of deep solitude on the body and mind and to find answers to the spiritual questions that had plagued him his entire life. Bob has spent years wandering North and South America, working as a scuba instructor, wilderness guide, construction worker, dishwasher, truck driver, bartender, painter, firefighter, and professor. He began undergraduate studies at age forty and now holds a Ph.D. from University of British Columbia. He lives in Vancouver.

100 Places Every Woman Should Go

Stephanie Griest describes her book, 100 Places Every Woman Should Go. An avid traveler, Stephanie has explored 25 countries and once spent a year driving 45,000 miles across the United States, documenting its history for a website for kids called The Odyssey. She has been a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University and is currently a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute and a Board Member of the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Deep Survival

Laurence Gonzales presents his book, Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why. He has been studying accidents and their roots in human behavior for more than 35 years. Deep Survival is the culmination of that research. He has published widely, won numerous awards, and appeared as a speaker before groups as diverse as the Santa Fe Institute, Legg Mason Capital Management, Citibank, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In addition, he has taught writing as an adjunct lecturer at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.