I Am Thankful For The Will To Change (1 Day to Thanksgiving)

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Counting down to Thanksgiving, and our special Thanksgiving class. Each day I will share a reason why I am thankful this year. See what I previously shared here and here.
I am thankful for the will to change.

To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often ~ John Henry Newman

I really like consistency and routine in my life. A little predictability is a great thing to have on a day to day basis. When I come to teach a yoga class it is nice to know that the yoga studio will still be where I left it the day before. Even before I get up in the morning I rely on the sun rising and waking up in the bed I fell asleep in the night before.
It’s a funny thing when you sit down and think of all of the endless little details of our lives we simply take for granted. Some of the things can be as massive as trusting that the sun will still be in the center of our solar system tomorrow and next week. Or as small and mundane as my friends and family will still recognize me when I see them next.

All of these things are consistent in our lives and I personally take comfort knowing that these won’t change. Can you imagine what it would be like to wake up and not know if your car has turned into a pumpkin or if the ground is still solid under your feet? This is some really crazy stuff to think about.
As I said earlier, I really like consistency and routine in my life. They get me to trust that people, behaviors and circumstances can be relied upon day in and day out, week in and week out, etc. The regularity is crucial for a sense of stability that for me in many areas is necessary for peace of mind.
If I can rely on this part of my life, this person or this situation to remain the same then I can focus on other areas that matter to me.
An example that comes to mind is when I am on my mat and working on an inversion. With practice and experience, I have gotten the basic concepts down. I have trained my body to anticipate what’s to come and how it should respond. Only with this stable base of knowledge and experience can I move onto more advanced postures and positions. Contrast this with what it would look like if I cherry picked which basic lessons I wanted to work on and only practiced them during eclipses? I would never be able to build a reliable foundation for my yoga practice. Getting into an inversion and holding it for more a second would be more of a fluke than anything else.
With my love for consistency and routine why then in the world am I thankful for change? Allow me to explain.
Every year here in Buffalo, New York, we enjoy all four seasons of the year—Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. What I love in the Fall are the changes in the color of the leaves. You can easily find and enjoy beautiful yellows, reds, browns and splashes of green everywhere. This changes of the seasons are generally consistent, routine and predictable. The seasons will change and with them comes changes in temperature, colors, wetness/dryness, etc.

These aren’t the change that I am getting at. I appreciate these types of changes but they are all driven by circumstances and the natural impulse to survive. They’re are equal to me getting goosebumps when I’m cold.
What I am thankful for is beyond just the ability to change. Just having the ability to change and to react to the things around us is straightforward cause and effect. How does the object react to a certain situation? I think of it in questions like these:

  • It’s winter. What will a tree do with its leaves to survive?
  • It’s hot outside. What will happen to the pool’s water level if left alone?
  • When my daughter was 1 years old. What will happen if I am late to feed her?

I am instead in awe of the will to change. The ability to have a natural reaction but to decide to do something else. To even take it a step further and train yourself to re-define what a “natural” response even is for you personally. I think of it in questions like these:

  • I am hungry. Should I skip the fast food stops and cook tonight?
  • The bonus did not come in this month. Should I still uphold my donation commitment?
  • The kids are in, under and jumping all over my nerves today. Instead of raising my voice to them will putting my phone down and singing a silly song calm them down?
  • I am so angry with her. She started it but will it help if I apologize for my part first?

These types of changes are sometimes really small decisions, but isn’t life a series of small decisions? Every decision we make paves the path in front of us and determines where we end up.
A tree will always remain a tree. It will always change its colors base on the season. We, on the other hand, don’t have to remain the same.
We have the ability and the will to change for the better and I am always thankful for this.
I trust in the ability to change in myself and in others. I am thankful for our will to change and appreciate yoga as a practice that trains us to embrace this will to change.
What has been your more recent experience exercising your will to do something different than what your circumstances compel you to do?

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