For my upcoming book, The Positively Present Guide to Life: How to Make the Most of Every Moment, I’ve been writing a lot about how to cope with unexpected change. As I’ve been crafting and editing my thoughts on how to make the most of what craziness life throws at you, I’ve been contemplating unexpected change from a negative point of view because often it’s the negative unexpected changes that make it difficult to stay positive and present.
When I think of the phrase “unexpected change,” I almost always think of it in negative terms, with circumstances like illness, job loss, or death coming to mind. I almost always identify “unexpected” it with something bad (perhaps because I’m such a creature of habit and unexpected things often impact me negatively). But recently something unexpectedly good happened to me—and exciting career opportunity I’ll share more about later—and I was surprised by how positive unexpected change impacted me.
If you imagine something good happening to you completely out of the blue, you probably envision it being a completely positive, worry-free experience, right? That’s what I would have thought too. But unexpected changes—even the really great ones—can still shake up your world, causing you to question (in a good way) and making you reassess some aspects of your life.
As much as I shy away from change, I really do enjoy when positive change sneaks up on me, reminding me that life is filled with surprises, and just when you think things are going to stay the same for a good long while, something amazing and new can happen. Even when change is a good thing, sometimes it’s hard to stay positive and present in the face of it. Here are some ways to cope with positive change:
GO HEAD + LET IT SHAKE YOU UP.
Even when change is awesome, it can throw you for a loop. Don’t resist that fearfulness. Instead, embrace it, allowing yourself to feel a bit out of sorts and shaken up. That’s one of the best things about positive change—it changes things. Even when change is good, it’s tempting to resist it, but try to go with it, let it shake you up, and see how it feels to push out of your comfort zone. It’s okay to be afraid of change— most people are—and sometimes that fear is actually a sign that you’re moving in the right direction.
TRY TO STAY IN THE PRESENT MOMENT.
One of the reasons change—no matter how positive—is challenging is because it often causes us to remove ourselves from the present moment. Instead of going about our day-to-day lives, not giving too much thought to what’s next because we’ve grown comfortable with our routines, big changes urge us to think (perhaps too much) about the future, filling the mind with worries and concerns, like Should I take this opportunity? What will come next? What if it doesn’t go as planned? Don’t allow these questions to override the joy of the opportunity appearing before you right now.
IMAGINE POSSIBILITIES, NOT PROBLEMS.
If you must think to the future (and, we all must, from time to time), try not to focus on what could go wrong, but instead what could go right. Push yourself in a positive direction by envisioning how this positive change can be a good thing. Spend time daydreaming about all of the ways things could work out well—and don’t be afraid to dream big. You never know what one big change can do, and if you allow yourself to explore the future from a positive perspective, the possibilities are endless.
SPEAK ABOUT IT WITH OPTIMISM.
When something good happens to you, it’s sometimes tempting to hedge the good news with phrases like, “But I’m not sure if it will work out…” or “I still don’t know how it’s going to work, but…” or “I’m not sure I deserve this, but…” Chuck those phrases out the window and speak confidently about the positive opportunity you’ve been given. It might be true that you’re uncertain or feel undeserving (even if you shouldn’t!), but everything we do is uncertain. You don’t know what’s going to happen (none of us do with 100% certainty!) so you might as well focus on the potential of a positive change.