Failure to thrive in life is the inability to adapt to change.

In my nearly 41 years on this planet, I am understanding more and more how true this is. It’s true as it relates to aging, parenting, relationships, career, finances, spirituality, personal growth, self-love, and so on and so on. If you cannot adapt to change in an ever-changing world, you will struggle. This is just a simple fact.   

If you think about someone who you deem as “successful” in life, you’ll notice that the ability to adapt to change is one of their key characteristics. It’s not lack of difficulty or unexpected challenges that has made them succeed. It’s not because life has been a cake walk for them. It’s not because they’ve been handed everything they own. In fact, in most cases, the opposite is true. The people we admire and hold in high esteem as people who have “figured life out” are the ones who have been tested, challenged, and even failed at some point. What appeals to us is their ability to bounce back, keep pushing forward, and most of all, adapt to whatever comes their way.  

Change is hard. Many of us don’t like it, including me. Why is this? Well, if I answer this question for myself, I’d say for starters, it’s because change makes me feel a lack of control. When things are consistent and the same, I feel like I have both hands on the wheel; like I have “everything together”. Yet, when change comes a knockin’ many of us often feel the opposite. I think this is especially true because change often brings something we internally resist (at least initially).  

For example, as many of you know, I am the mother of two sons. Change comes a knockin’ on a regular basis, especially given the fact that they are going on 17 and 13. In fact, we are living in “a house of change”, so to speak. Now, in all reality, this change is all good, healthy, and necessary, but I’ve found myself wanting to resist it at times. 

They don’t play with toys anymore. We donated some and sold some. That was a tough change. They’re not at home as much. My oldest drives and works a lot, and my youngest plays football and works. That’s been a hard change. They don’t need me like they did when they were little. They no longer climb up on my lap to snuggle after a nap. I won’t lie, that’s been a change with a harsh sting.  

Again, change is challenging, but we must adapt. If I dug my heels in and tried to keep my kids from changing, how would they respond? Ha, easy answer… not very well. They would look at me like I was crazy and say something along the lines of, “Mom, get a grip! We are growing up!”  

Another example is marriage. Are we the same person our spouse married thirty years in as we were in month one? Probably not. Our core self may be relatively the same, but hopefully, as we’ve aged and evolved, we’ve changed a bit. As this happens, we must be able to adapt to one another or we have issues within the relationship. Adapting to the changes your spouse displays as they go through life is not always going to be easy. Some changes may be welcomed, others may not be, but the success of the relationship relies on our ability to adapt to these changes.  

The ability to adapt to change is so important that even John F. Kennedy said that it is the “law of life”, meaning, change is inevitable and unavoidable. The more we resist change, the more difficult life becomes. In fact, some of the most well-known and prominent teachers of our time have spoken on this very issue.  

Spiritual teacher, Lao Tzu said, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”  

I love that- “let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” It’s like a river… it’s going to flow in whatever direction it naturally wants to. Nothing will stop it, and whatever tries, will get swept away. We should take Lao Tzu’s advice and let things flow. We should stop trying to keep things the same. We should, essentially, go with the flow.  

And why is there often so much natural resistance towards change? Why do we have this inherent tendency to see it in a negative light? Author and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, stated the opposite. He said, “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” Clearly, he viewed change as an opportunity to benefit, grow, mature, and even improve one’s life. We should adopt his mindset. 

This leads to what French philosopher, Henri Bergson, said about change. “To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”  

Change is the opportunity presented to us by life to learn, grow, mature, and gain wisdom. In a sense, it’s the opportunity to become a better human and to become more resilient. Every day we are doing exactly what Bergson said- we are “creating ourselves endlessly.” If this is true, which I believe it is, then we have the choice as to what we create.  

Think about the wisest elderly person you know- like your 95-year-old great aunt who seems to have insight on everything in life. Do you think she was just born with that? Of course not. She has acquired her wisdom and insight over the course of a lifetime… a lifetime of change has taught her invaluable lessons. Just talk to her for a few minutes and you’ll easily pick up on all the change she has seen, experienced, and has adapted to. Somewhere along the way she figured out change was a part of life. She could either resist it or simply let it flow. She learned the latter would provide her with much greater benefit.  

In closing, life is going to change, whether we like it or not. While we can’t stop change, we can choose how we respond to it. This depends on one thing- our perspective.  

How we choose to view changes in our life, one hundred percent, affects the way we respond and adapt (or don’t adapt) to it. If we have a mindset of limiting beliefs, fear, worry, and a desire to stay in our comfort zone, then we will consistently struggle. The change won’t go away- we’ll just create a lot of pain and tension around it.  

On the contrary, if we view every change as an opportunity to learn a great lesson and acquire wisdom and new knowledge, then we will flourish and thrive. We may still face challenges with this perspective, because again change is often arduous, but we will ultimately win and benefit. We will eventually become our 95-year-old, wise great aunt. I don’t know about you, but she is who I want to be. So, every time I want to resist my kids evolving and becoming more self-sufficient, or a season of life is coming to an end, I’ll remind myself…this is how it’s supposed to be. Don’t resist it. Let it flow, naturally forward. Create yourself, endlessly, in a beautiful, adaptable way.  

Change is good.  

Change is necessary.  

Change is part of this human experience.

Mom Lessons...A Glimpse of What I've Learned Along the Way