A friend recently told me about the life cycle of a monarch butterfly. From the time they hatch from an egg to the time they die is approximately eight weeks. Throughout this eight week lifespan the monarch lives a few weeks as a caterpillar feeding on silkweed, a week or so in a cocoon undergoing metamorphosis, and four to six weeks as the beautiful creature we see fluttering about by our flowers and gardens. In addition to this rapid change they encounter physically, the monarch is constantly migrating between Mexico and Canada, depending on the season. The full migration of one trip can span over four generations of butterflies.
I found this information to be fascinating. Think about the life of a butterfly – it is one of constant change. They undergo an astounding physical transformation as well as being constantly on the move geographically. Not a single day in the short span of the monarch’s life could be considered the same as the one before.
Now, take a deep breath, lean back in your chair, and explore your mind for a moment with me.
Ask yourself, “When was the last time I changed?”
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” As I write the sun is about to set and the moon will soon rise, and the lush summer greenery is fading into a blazing array of autumn colors. Whether you are aware of it or not, change is happening around you and within you each and every day.
I believe in order to enhance our lives change should be embraced. It should be welcomed and sought out at every viable opportunity. To be static is to resist the natural ebb and flow of the universe. Picture a palm tree, known for its flexibility. When a calm morning gives way into a stormy afternoon the palm tree does not resist the howling winds. It bends. It yields to the natural forces around it and because of this it lives on through harsh storms. The trunk and branches become more resilient each time. A few coconuts may get knocked off, but these can be reproduced in due time.
So, how long has it been since you have been aware of any changes in your life? Think small. Maybe you recently decided to add an extra vegetable to your daily diet. Maybe you have tried taking a different route to work. Perhaps you find yourself not watching as much television in the last few weeks. Think of absolutely anything that has changed, whether it just seemed to happen or it was consciously willed to be so.
Become aware that each day our eyes open we have the choice of who we want to be and how we choose to live. We are not on fixed paths or doomed to continue poor habits. Our feet are not stuck into the mud; we can choose to wiggle our toes as we please. Start to believe that you have both a choice and the power within yourself to live better.
Imagine a box. Everything inside that box is comfortable to you. It contains your familiar, predictable routine and habits associated with it. Now ask, “When was the last time something wonderful, something exciting happened while I was inside my box?” The answer will probably escape you. We lose our choice when we stay inside our box. It limits our being because we get a false sense of control and security while inside that box.
Yet free choice lives outside of our comfort zone. Unlimited possibilities open up when we take a step outside of the mundane routine of our daily lives. Seeking out small changes to our routine, to our daily lives will help us open up to all that the universe has to offer.
The key word here is small. Start very, very small. After all, we are talking about stepping outside of our comfort zone. A large leap is likely to scare us to the point that we retreat like a small child out of a dark room back into our box and leave us hesitant to step back outside for a long period of time.
Choose one small change to your daily routine, and try it out for a week or so. If you feel better because of it, maybe it can stick around for a while. It can become something to build upon. If the change does not seem to offer any benefits, then change something else. Get creative with this process, think of it as a personal game. A certain degree of exhilaration occurs when we step out of our comfort zone and try something new. In time you will learn to enjoy this feeling and seek it out more often.
With small changes we tip-toe right past the brain’s fight or flight response and thus begin a journey of transformation – whatever the goal may be. Do not fear that you are too old or too stuck in engrained ways to make positive changes in your life. Science has proven that the brain can create new brain cells and build new neural pathways no matter what our age. The old excuse, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has been unfounded.
Picture yourself as graceful as the monarch butterfly, as flexible as the palm tree, and at peace with the constant changes of our universe. Be open to trying new things and to thinking in different ways. At the very least be willing to listen to differing ideas and opinions. Most importantly, believe that you have the choice to live a fulfilling life.
- Begley, Sharon. The brain – How The Brain Rewires Itself. TIME. 2007
- Dyer, Wayne. Change Your Thoughts; Change Your Life – Living the Wisdom of the Tao. Hay House. 2008.
- Maurer, Robert. One Small Step Can Change Your Life – The Kaizen Way. Workman Publishing. 2004.
- Monarch Life Cycle.
- Mosey, Terry. Boosting Our Immunity. IDEA Personal Training Conference East. 2013.