The world is nothing but change
How we deal with change determines how we can view the world around us. Change is everything. It is the only constant that we have. We can take our own lives as a prime example. From the moment that we come into existence, we are moved in one direction as a relentless push until we reach the end. Along the way, this metamorphosis shows us the different stages, if we are lucky enough to meet them.
“The world is nothing but change. Our life is only perception.”democritus, frg. B.115, from Marcus Aurelius, meditations, Book 4.3
First, we grow and become stronger and learn more until we reach the peak and find out things get more difficult. Our moods are affected by the events around us and our bodies falter and grow older. These are natural things that everyone will endure. How we deal with them determines how content we are as we undergo them. We can read this throughout Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations. Change is one of the concepts that he keeps referring to as if he is struggling with it as we are now.
We are along for the ride
It is important to show acceptance and learn to use this natural flow of life as a source of energy. Fighting it will not help you be happier because it will only highlight the fact that you have no control over it. Let’s look at all that changes around us and how it has been happening from the beginning of everything. We see nature change and move in cycles. These give us the feeling of time passing by and allow us to recognize the patterns in all that surrounds us. Yet we fail to come to peace with our own part in the whole.
“Frightened of change? But what can exist without it? What’s closer to nature’s heart?”Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 7.18
Birthdays can be a terrible day for some because it signifies the farewell to a passage of their lives. It is a sign of change right there in your face. From that day onward you need to say a different number when asked about your age. Yet, it is something that we should rejoice. We’ve made it through another year, with all its obstacles and celebrations. And although we reflect on life during these specific marked moments in a year, we should learn to do so every day. Each morning should be a reason for joy and every evening for reflection. There is no need in looking back too far, it keeps going and we are along for the ride.
Learn to accept the changes
People sometimes refer to specific times in their lives as the best time they ever had. What does that tell you of the rest? Are they suffering now? Has it all gone downhill from there? These kinds of questions can lead to depression, frustrations, or regrets. If we learn to live in the moment we can try to make every day the best day we have. And then when someone asks us: What was your favorite moment in life so far? You can honestly answer them with; “today.” And that is what it should be. The past is lost with fragments of it remaining in our memory and the future is unknown.
Now we need to see how to deal with it. This topic is a struggle for most people and some try to stop change by altering their bodies to look like they didn’t age. Others try to behave in ways to stay relevant with the younger generations. It is up to everyone to decide what they want to do with their body or behavior and no judgment from me. But wouldn’t it be better if we learned to accept these changes and let nature run its course? What are some ways to create this acceptance?
Train your mind to look for possibilities
As we have seen in the reflection on control, we know that the body is beyond this sphere. We can fall ill, get injured, or die. What we can control is our perception of it. During a football match, I severely injured my knee and my football days were over. But somehow I always knew that this could have been a possibility. I enjoyed most of my games, especially the ones that I won, but now that chapter is closed. We can dwell on the loss or focus on the things that we can do. However difficult it is, we can tell ourselves that there are other options available to us. Train our minds to look for them and then we will find them.
There are also plenty of positive things about growing older. We can take life a bit easier. The constant need to prove ourselves or fight for our place in the world gets smaller. And as Seneca added:
“How nice it is to have out-worn one’s desires and left them behind.”Seneca, letters from a stoic, Letter XII
Our understanding of how things work and how we ourselves function becomes clearer. The things we focus on change to fit with our lifestyle. Like a flower in our garden. She grows and brightens our spirits with the colors she puts on display for us when she is at her peak. After that, she knows that she has performed her duty and it’s time to make place for a new flower. As she sheds her petals, she provides nourishment for new ones to sprout.
Complaining about it won’t stop it
Are you having a hard time accepting that you are getting older? Remind yourself that you’re aging every day. Find out what it is specifically that bothers you. Write this in your journal and look at the positive aspects. Things that you can still do or the possibilities that lie ahead. Remind yourself of all the things that you have learned during your life so far and how you have grown as an individual. You might even be romanticizing your past. Think about the worries you had back then and the achievements you’ve accomplished right now. Even if you haven’t met your big goals from back in the day, reflect on what happened. Did you make the best of it? And if not, what are the options to still meet those goals, even in a reduced form.
“But physically I am losing my edge.” That is the natural way of things, fighting it or getting depressed over it won’t change this fact. There are ways to deal with this and accept it. Complaining about it won’t make it stop, it will only speed it up. Be active and do things that are still within the realm of possibilities. You might not be able to run a marathon anymore, but you can go out for lovely walks or jogs.
Moving with the change can keep you young
Change doesn’t happen for better or worse, it just happens. We can lose our possessions or find ourselves in a sportscar. The first could be a relief while the latter could be a burden, it is all about perspective. In these situations, we can train our minds to look to the positive and constructive side. This comes from training. Reflect on your situation and ask yourself what options you have, not what options you have lost. “Why me?‘ is not relevant, we’re all in the same boat.
Furthermore, think of what you have to offer to society. All those years of accumulated wisdom and experience. Who could benefit from that? Are there people around you who you see go through similar things you already passed and know how to deal with? Well, get in touch with them and share your knowledge. We all play our part and have our duty, it might shift as we grow older, but it’s always there. You can write, you can speak, or you can set a good example. Find the areas where your expertise is of use and make yourself valuable. That will make life meaningful.