Change and how we adapt to it!
by Irwin Lengel
"Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be."
-Grandma Moses (1860-1961)
We have been retired now sixteen plus years and still going strong. We have been able to accomplish much more than I could have ever imagined, especially since, looking back at those times, it was hard to believe that I was down-sized twice within less than two years.
While the first year or two was rough, retirement became a great turnaround for us, one that completely changed my life.
As a matter of fact, in 2004 when I had some serious health issues, once the dust had settled and I got my head screwed back on right, I realized how lucky I had been and bottom line was that I tended to lose the “up tight - worry about everything” way of living that I was accustomed to.
While I am not too sure I am on board with the old adage “everything happens for a reason” thought process, I will say that since that time, I have sort of become the type of guy that… when something doesn’t exactly go my way or the way I think it should have gone … I say to myself, “oh well, and this too shall pass!” and I just move on with our lives.
Believe me when I say, the stress factor drops considerably when one learns to “roll with the punches”, so to speak, versus causing a great commotion over something that – let’s face it – happened and isn’t going to go away now that it is done.
Stepping back for a moment and looking at what happened with the attitude – “OK – it happened, big deal, so what” – I know I cannot turn back the hands of time. What’s done is done! Now what can I do to make things better and move on with my life. We are not getting any younger as evidenced by the added wrinkles, extra white hairs, or lack thereof when we look in the mirror every morning.
“The only thing constant in life is change”… Francois de la Rochefoucauld
Change doesn’t only happen to us – it happens to everyone at one time or another. How we address those changes is what matters. We can become bitter, ornery, and miserable individuals causing those closest to us to become alienated and withdrawn or we can look at whatever the change is as a challenge and pick up the gauntlet moving forward trying hard to make the best of what might on the surface appear to be a bad situation.
One thing we have to keep in mind is the fact that “change” doesn’t only happen to us. Everyone around us that are near and dear to our hearts will face change throughout various times of their lives. Since we are the elders of the bunch (never thought I would hear those words pop out of my mouth in this frame of reference), the way we handle these changes become a vision for those that will come after us.
If they see that we face the changes head on and make the best of them, they too will learn to accept change with the willingness to see how the change can be made into a positive situation as opposed to a negative one.
Chances are that there are people in our lives that have had similar challenges and faced them head on resulting hopefully in a turnaround and improvement to their situation. All one need do is look at things in a positive light versus a negative one.
With regards problems, they can tackle whatever problem(s) facing them the same way I used to and still tell my students ….how one would eat an elephant – “one bite at a time!” Same philosophy holds true with problems. If it is small – should be resolved rather easily. If large, break it down into bite-sized problems and dispose of them one at a time.
Looking at retirement as a positive thing, an individual may look at the retirement issue as a motivator to improve their present situation.
Remember, retirement is just another phase of our lives. Hopefully it is a time that we can concentrate on that which we want to do for ourselves (or others if that is the case) that we haven’t been able to do due to working.
Once you find out what it is that you would like to do i.e., change, such a change can be mutually beneficial. Your friends and family might just reflect on your changes and you might just reflect on their changes as well. You then begin to see an upward spiral of self-improvement. The challenge however is to get past what used to take up your time and concentrate on that which you want to do now that you have free time. Take it one step at a time.
Keep in mind things are not going to change overnight. We have spent what seems to have been a lifetime getting to this point in our lives. That required quite a bit of work, sacrifices and so forth. Retirement life will be similar meaning that we have to ease into it and find that which makes us happy. Once we do, we tend to wonder why we didn’t retire earlier because, believe me – when you find that which makes you happy, retirement can be quite the party.
I hope to be doing this retirement gig for yet another sixteen years or so. Just think – all we do every day of our lives is that which we enjoy the most – which for us means line dancing, traveling, writing, reading, playing on the computer, and basically whatever suits our fancy!
Life is good!