Coping With Change and the Bliss of Ignorance

I regularly visit my 94 year old Grandmother.  Happily tucked away in her cozy retirement home room surrounded by photos of her loved ones, she is afraid to come out of it, the volume of traffic on the street out front makes her head spin to the point where she’ll literally fall over.  The youngest of 7 siblings long gone from her world, she bides her remaining time in a wonderful environment that was actually built on top of her family’s homestead so she’s lived in the same space almost her entire life.

Except for the glimmer of recognition when she spots one of the old buildings left standing, there’s little visible from her childhood neighbourhood.  Still, the remaining pieces of her old world spark vivid memories of a better time for her, a time when horse-drawn milk wagons moseyed along her street, riding her tricycle around her small home and long walks to school, even though she can’t remember what she just ate for lunch an hour ago, and fortunately, she always remembers me.

No matter where you are in the world it doesn’t take a long look around you to realize that in the last several years in particular, things have changed incredibly dramatically.  What’s more, the rate of change itself is speeding up, oh you’ve noticed too?  I used to think this was because of the aging process and now know it to be a law of evolution and the natural expansion of our development as a species and global society.

As a self-proclaimed “change agent” I’ve often shouted to myself, “Bring it on!”  Lately though, I find myself tagging that proclamation with the request, “But could ya’ just slow it down a little?”  My plea goes unheeded, time continues to pass anyway and all the pleading I can muster won’t slow down the fast-paced world around me, and that’s OK, I’m really just playing with the Universe when I beg the question.  Like me my Nana is very aware of change, she remarks about it every time I visit.  Unlike Nana though, I am still able to keep up with change, nervous about it sometimes yes, and mostly it’s a nervous excitement about what’s to come.

At the other end of the generational spectrum I watch my new beautiful grandson and rejoice at the rich experience that awaits him, despite all the challenges of the world at large, it is indeed a great time for him to be alive!  I’m a fairly lousy “imagineer” for the most part so I have trouble visualizing what the world will look like when he is my age, and I do know the nature of expansion.  With every challenge comes equal or greater opportunity, it’s the law of nature.

I believe time will pass quicker for my grandson than it did for my grandmother, and I’m assured due to technology, science and our awareness that little Seth’s lifespan will be much longer and healthier than Nana’s.

5 Generations
Five Generations Of Change
Mom, Nana, Seth, Isaac & Me

The end result of not keeping up with change is usually disastrous over time, the perception of going backwards creeps in rather quickly.  I now caveat the old quote “ignorance is bliss” with, “well that depends, what is it I’m keeping myself ignorant about?”  Never has there been a more important time to keep an open mind, ears and heart, and to know (read: have faith) that things will always work out for me.  That doesn’t mean however, that the proverbial rug won’t be pulled out from under me once in a while as I discover the hard way what it is I’ve been ignorant about.

In Randy Pausch’s courageous last lecture he says, “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.”  I’m here to testify to my wealth of experience and yet my inherent nature is to blissfully “look on the bright side.”  I was born to ferret out and provide solutions and I absolutely know for certain that there is ALWAYS an answer on the other side of every problem – also a function of “the law”.

I’m just finishing up the book “The Secret of Shelter Island” and in the essay titled, “The Psychology of Optimal Experience”, Alexander Green highlights philosopher Abraham Kaplan on how our troubles define our lives.  We are asked to draw a distinction between our predicaments and our problems, not so that we can focus on them more, but to understand what we can change and to cope with what we cannot change.

Problems can be solved.  Predicaments can only be coped with.” states Kaplan.

Leadership expert John Maxwell in his book “The Difference Maker” expands:
When people treat a predicament as a problem, they become frustrated, angry, or depressed.  They waste energy.  They make bad decisions.  And when people treat problems as predicaments, they often settle, give up, or see themselves as victims.

We are all subjects of the same global predicaments, none of us can singlehandedly change what’s going on in the world, yet the unique problems we all face because of our predicaments can be solved, each one of us contributing in the overall shift to creating a better place for us all collectively.  Solving the problems of today ensures more positive predicaments in the future.

Benjamin Disraeli said, “The great secret of success in life is for a man to be ready when his opportunity comes.

My work is with people.  Every day I chat with many others and as I listen to their stories I am reminded of how important it is to be telling ourselves and others empowering stories, our stories really do run our lives and construct the foundation of our belief in what is possible.

It is inspiring to hear that so many are looking for solutions to their problems, the dismaying part is realizing most have been left ill equipped to recognize opportunity when it’s staring them in the face.  There’s more solutions for us now than ever before in our history, and opportunity doesn’t look like what one might expect, it’s usually disguised as something different than what we would imagine, falling outside our realm of experience and programming.

Thomas Edison quipped, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

With the evolution of technology and a global marketplace work is done differently than it used to be.  We have the benefit of leverage and a reach far beyond where it has ever gone before.  Full-time incomes are being made with part-time effort in fun ways that don’t interfere with what we already have going on.  Teams of people are standing by to help us every step of the way and only benefit by ensuring we see success.

Trust in others has never been more important and loyalty is a 2-way street.  Our problems can truly be viewed as enjoyable challenges and we can actually experience getting what we want.  As Alexander Green recommends, make your own life a reality show, show yourself what you’re made of and turn the tables in your favour.

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think that you can or that you can’t, you are usually right.

I know you can.  Hell if I can, you can!  You’re not alone in your predicament.

If you don’t know, ask.  Question whether or not you really know what you’re saying “no” to, it’s easy to shoot from the hip and take the advice of those that don’t know, those that have settled, given up or claim to be victims of their problems.

I’ll leave you with one final quote and hold hope that you’ll follow your inner prompting to act differently, to say “yes” to some solutions that are staring you in the face right now.  Change is good and can be a fun experience, even if it is a little uncomfortable.

You don’t know what you don’t know,
that’s why you don’t have, because
if you knew what you knew, you’d have,
because to know and not to do,
is not to know.

– Casey Combden


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