Mindfully thriving during Change and Uncertainty.
Change and uncertainty for most of us can be hard. And many of our stressors stem from
fear of losing what we have (change) and not knowing if we will get what we want (uncertainty).
The stress from both are significant. In fact, research has shown we get more stress from uncertainty than from physical pain. This means you could be more stressed out about your job security than from a broken leg.
Many of us spend significant energy focusing on the external things that could impact us from a change and uncertainty perspective. We believe that it’s the things that happen to us, like getting a promotion or losing a job, that impact our happiness.
And for all the money, time, and energy we spend on trying to be “happy,” you’d think we’d know more about it.
Here’s some science: The set-point theory of happiness explains that our level of subjective well-being is determined primarily by heredity factors like genes, neurochemicals, and personality traits ingrained in us early in life. Your level of “happiness” can change in response to positive situations (like a new job) and negative events (like getting a micromanaging new boss), but research concluded that happiness returns to baseline within a year of changes in extrinsic factors even when winning the lottery or becoming a paraplegic.
Literally, research followed individuals and found that you can win the lottery or become paraplegic, but over time you will return to the same level of happiness.
Essentially, we habituate to situations and their effects (positive or negative) over time.
Research has also concluded that internal factors (like meditation, altruism, and compassion) can actually increase that happiness set-point and lead to long-term results. Epstein says, “With a steady meditation practice, we start to have higher highs and shallower lows.”
Practicing mindfulness will do more for your happiness level than winning the lottery.
We spend a lot of energy fearing change and uncertainty to external conditions, when in reality, our happiness really stems from internal conditions.
It’s a fact there will always be SOMETHING. But it’s how we react to that something that makes all the difference.
So, how do I deal with change and uncertainty?
In March 2020, within 24 hours, four of my largest speaking events were canceled for the year due to Covid. This would not only represent about a ¼ of my income for the year but the opportunities that would come from it for 2021. As the breadwinner for my family with a little one on the way during a global pandemic… this was enough to ignite a stress response, even for the “expert.”
But I eat my own dog food and used tools from my Performance-based Mindfulness programs, instead of freaking out, I:
- Used the Triple AAA method
Our actions, which are informed by our feelings, end up being much healthier, productive, and impactful when we mindfully observe them before going into autopilot reactions.
So, going back to my stressor – the lost business for 2020.
I took a minute to observe my feelings and realized I was reacting by ruminating. The Default Mode Network is the part of the reptile brain or stress response that when activated causes us to ruminate in an effort to find solutions to ensure survival. Because remember, when we are stressed out our body and brain can’t tell the difference between an actual threat and perceived threat.
So, here I was, unable to sleep and ruminating.
But I knew the science, and I remembered that when we practice mindfulness, it turns off the Default Mode Network. For the next few days, when I found myself in a tailspin of rumination I would pause, observe my feelings (yep, I’m ruminating again), then use my SIT practice (for even 2 minutes) and noticed a difference. And if I still needed some support, I used my Triple AAA method to determine where I could act or accept.
After using these practices and without all the tail spinning, I could see that there was something I could do. That pause helped me create a webinar called the Chaos to Calm workshop. I announced to my network that I would provide it for free as long as each person who attended paid it forward by doing something in their community to help ease the stress and uncertainty of Covid.
… And I was shocked at the response. I not only created a huge pipeline for 2021, but more importantly, I impacted over 1,000 professionals, generated over 50 acts of kindness and secured donations for over $20,000.
Turns out hat my happiness (and success) was not tied to certainty – that my happiness and success was tied to being present and handling each situation appropriately as they arose.
Something unexpected will always happen. Things happen!
Life is 100% about how we react and not how tightly we hold on to our plans or expected outcomes.
Want support with the tools mentioned above? Reach out for a FREE 30-minute coaching call. Feel like you or your organization help increasing productivity and resilience in your employees? I work with both 1:1 and corporate clients to help increase performance and wellbeing through my proven Performance-Based Mindfulness methodology.