This has been a difficult year. Lots of people have decided that history is likely to remember 2020 as a dumpster fire.
And let’s face it — that’s not wrong. I don’t need to get into the specifics — again — because I’m sure that the most withdrawn hermit out there is aware. Uncertainty and fear are dominating everything.
Fortunately, this is not how it will be forever. Longer than many of us would like, sure, but not forever. Why? Impermanence.
There is nothing in this world that is utterly and completely permanent. From the tallest mountain to the smallest molecule, all is subject to impermanence.
Mountains rise and fall. Flowers grow, bloom, and die. People are born, grow, and die. There is nothing at all which is permanent and unchanging.
The inability to accept this idea causes a surreal amount of discomfort and has led to strife, numerous conflicts, reactionary movements, and even wars. People are resistant to and afraid of change. They want things to become a certain way — and stay there.
But they won’t. Because they can’t. Impermanence is the truth of the Universe. Change is inevitable.
But this is a good thing. Why? As Buddhist Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh says,
“It is because of impermanence that everything is possible.”
Right there on the surface of it, you can see the power of this. Everything is possible because of impermanence.
And it is not a bad thing — unless you choose to believe it to be so.
Examples of change being good
It is easy to lose sight of how change can be good. Particularly in the face of the present uncertainty and fear dominating our society.
Change has brought about tremendous good in the world.
Less than a hundred years ago, polio was a devastating disease. Now, it’s more-or-less extinct because of the vaccine. (Yes, anti-vaxxers — vaccines are good for the human race overall).
A hundred years ago, women couldn’t vote in the United States. Now, not only can they vote — they are holding numerous public offices — and — we are on the verge of seeing the first-ever female vice-president.
Thirty years ago, cellular phones were emerging as a major communications tool. Now, smartphones — which are hundreds of times more powerful — are everywhere.
I know that some people will argue these changes were NOT good. Yet, overall, they have been.
Let’s go with changes that we take for granted, particularly in the first-world. The abundance of electricity to power our lives. Television, radio, and information at our fingertips. Grocery stores stocked with food. Department stores with shelves of clothes, toiletries, small appliances, and other things. It was not-so-long-ago these didn’t exist.
The point is that “the way things have always been” is never a thing. “Always” might be a hundred years, perhaps two-or-three hundred years — but then it changes. Yes, sometimes it changes for the worse — but then it can also be changed for the better.
You have more control over this than you realize.
Your power over impermanence
If you are displeased with your current situation or lot in life — you have all the power to change it.
To be fair, that may take a great deal of work. You might need to do something drastic and/or cause a disruption that may have an impact on other people. But you have the power.
Nothing is permanent. That’s the whole notion of impermanence. But because of this, every bad thing in the world can be changed.
All of history’s greatest villains die at some point. Even people sick and dying can have great, positive, amazing days.
Everything is possible because of this. There is no absolute in the entirety of creation EXCEPT for change. Impermanence is the key to shifting anything and everything.
Why is this so terrifying? Because we live in a fear-based society. This was created by people who were “in power” seeking the best way to stay in power. So, they create any number of things to evoke and exploit fear to disempower everyone else.
This has been the way for as long as human beings have formed societies rather than roving bands of hunter-gatherers. But because of the way our society works, you are not likely to recognize this as part of your own empowerment.
There are numerous amazing people we can name throughout history. Artists, scientists, political leaders, religious leaders, and so on. Names like Einstein, Da Vinci, Roosevelt, the Dalai Lama — virtually everyone is aware of these people.
What have they got that you don’t? They empowered themselves to make use of the impermanence of life to carve out their niche. In other words — nothing more than you, yourself, possess.
Choose your own adventure
As children, we dream big. There is nothing we can’t do.
Then we learn that’s not true. We are taught that we need to be better/smarter/faster/richer than Johnny and Janey. If we don’t measure up, we will be set-up to fail rather than to succeed.
I am not entirely knocking meritocracy here. Some people have skills that others lack. And there should be recognition for exceptionality. But what we don’t need is the messages of lack, scarcity, and insufficiency in possibility.
When you have a deep enough desire and pursue a goal — you CAN achieve it. I don’t mean an out-there, wholly dependent on external factors goal (not that that’s impossible). I mean a based-in-reality, based in possibility goal.
For example — I was introduced to medieval fencing at 19. I fell in love with this sport. The first sport to ever TRULY interest me. I desired deeply to excel in it, and to achieve a specific recognition for that skill.
I had little-to-no sense of balance, was fat and unathletic, and had failed at all the other sports I tired (such as little-league baseball). But I wanted to have skill at this. I desired to be good.
There were several fits and starts on my part. But I persevered. For two years I studied the art of defense with the student-teacher of a living Maestro. I drilled, I pushed, and I worked at it.
While I did not become the ultimate, unstoppable fencer — I became skilled and received the recognition I sought. It took time and effort — but I did it.
I may still be overweight and less-than-athletically ideal — but continue to practice this with ever-developing skill.
If I could do this — you can do this, too.
Decide to use impermanence to your advantage
If you are displeased with any aspect of your life, recognizing its impermanence opens you to change it. You have the power — you just need to exercise it.
This is done via mindfulness. Starting at the surface, you need to work on being consciously aware of your thoughts, feelings, actions, and intentions. Once you gain this conscious awareness, you can go deeper. Now you can better control your mindset/headspace/psyche. With that, you can then alter your beliefs and habits via their impermanence.
All of this empowers you to take control over yourself — the only thing you CAN control. That control then allows you to use the impermanence of life to change. Redirect where you are going, what you are doing — and work to be the best you that you can be.
Important note: this applies to you and you alone. You haven’t any power over anyone else. Impermanent as everyone and everything is — you can only alter your reality. Do no intentional harm to others when you work on changing yourself — but know you may leave some people behind. You cannot live for anyone but you.
Finding the positivity in impermanence isn’t hard
But it does require mindfulness of your thoughts, feelings, actions, and intent.
Knowing that nothing is permanent, you can make use of this if you are displeased with various aspects of your life to change it. When you make use of this, you can see that impermanence can serve you to build positivity for yourself to be the best you that you can be — and that ultimately empowers you.
When you feel empowered, your mindfulness increases, you become more aware overall, and that can spread to people around you. This can create a feedback loop of awareness and positivity.
You can build more positive feelings and discover further reasons to feel positivity and gratitude. That can be the impetus to improve numerous aspects of your life for the better, help overcome the overwhelming negativity of the current situation, and generate yet more positivity and gratitude.
An attitude of gratitude is an attitude of immense positivity. That positivity can generate even more good energies — and that, like you, is always worthwhile.
Thank you for reading. I am MJ Blehart. I write about mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, and similar life lessons.
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Originally published at https://titaniumdon.com on October 26, 2020.