Life is a series of phases, of changes and new chapters that ultimately shape and create our lives. With each change and new phase comes a time of transition — a time of unrest, general questioning and discomfort.
As unsettling as the feeling of not being settled may be, fact remains that growth doesn’t come from a place of comfort. These rocky transitions can leave us stripped of familiar comforts in the face of unexpected challenges. It can make us question our abilities.
As a recent college grad, I know far too well the unsettling feelings that such major transitional periods are capable of producing. These past few post-college months, I have found myself questioning more of my actions and choices in life than ever before.
Whether you’re transitioning into college, out of college, to a new job or a new city, do yourself a favor and brace to embrace the inevitable discomfort.
When we embrace and recognize these changes rather than fight them, we allow ourselves to not only be more present and live in the moment, but to also appreciate the moment for what it is.
Even the most levelheaded, confident, mindful people can get caught up in the unsettling anxiety of transition. The beauty of transition is that it’s just that — a transition. It doesn’t last forever. Focusing on where you are not will in no way, shape or serve your life positively.
After all, you’re not almost there; you're here. When you make the conscious decision to live in the moment and not only be present, but also happily present, life tends to level itself out. What once felt unfamiliar and scary will eventually feel like home.
It’s important to have patience in the process; however, until then, finding clarity in a state of chaos is often far simpler than we make it out to be. Here are five simple ways to stay grounded in gratitude during times of transition:
1. Focus on progress, not perfection:
Starting a new phase of life comes with a learning curve. Building a new routine, making new friends and getting the hang of a new job all take time. We’re a generation that values instant-gratification, and we want what we want when we want it.
But, taking on a new chapter doesn’t always work that way. Set small goals for yourself and know that each one you meet will set you closer to a larger, big-picture goal. Things usually don’t immediately fall perfectly into place.
Shifting your focus from perfection to progress allows you to acknowledge the presence of accomplishments and blessings rather than the absence of your idea of “perfection.”
2. Stop comparing:
Whether it’s your past or someone else’s present, you owe it to yourself to let go of comparisons. Teddy Roosevelt couldn’t have put it better when he said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Not only is comparison the thief of joy, but also of gratitude.
When we compare our lives to others, analyzing what we lack against what they have, we completely overshadow all of the incredible things we do have.
Stop comparing yourself to others and take a moment to be thankful for even the tiniest of blessings in your life that are far too often taken for granted.
3. Let go of what no longer serves you:
There’s a Zen proverb that reads, “Let go or be dragged.” Times of transition are opportunities to allow yourself to shed what no longer serves you: people, habits, thoughts -- whatever it may be. Fill your life with more of what makes you happy and leave no room for the toxic people and practices that drag you down.
Transitions are a chance for a clean slate and a new start. Let this transition serve as a metamorphosis and begin cultivating habits of happiness and gratitude.
4. Write it down:
I know what you’re thinking: "Write what down?" Write anything. I have found gratitude journals to be one of the most powerful ways to transform the way my mind operates.
However, if writing down your intentions each morning and your blessings each evening sounds a little too “new-age hippy” for you, then start with just one word.
Start each morning by writing down one word — one thing, one person, one type of food —, any one thing you are grateful for. If writing it down is too much of a commitment, then forget the pen and paper and each morning, write a “mental note.”
Taking those few extra seconds each morning to start your day with gratitude and intention can help keeps things in perspective, especially when you feel like your life is a mess.
5. Open your mind:
Opening your mind to new people, places and experiences is a key component to embracing transition. Maintaining an open mind and an open heart will, in turn, open new doors and present new opportunities. Take advantage opportunities to step outside your comfort zone.
Who knows? One day, you may look back and thank yourself for it.
Growth doesn’t come from a place of comfort. Replace anxiety with gratitude and embrace the change.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It