Recently I moved out of my parent’s house into a place of my own, and the transition from functioning-dependant to functioning-independant was almost immediate. I’ve been out a few weeks now, and I’m cleaning the place regularly, getting meal prep done so I don’t have to cook throughout the week, scheduling appointments, paying bills, all of it.
I should say, never before have I done any of these things with the discipline I’m using now. Sure there were times when my family was away from the house and I cleaned up, and cooked a meal here and there. It’s not like I don’t know how to maintain a place, I know how to do it intellectually, but I haven’t had the opportunity to do it like I do now. I was sort of thrown into this whole new situation and I seem to have hit the ground running.
About a month and a half ago, my long-term relationship ended suddenly. I’d been so used to having this person in my life, and now they were suddenly gone. All the weeknight messages, hangouts, dates, the trips we took and our plans for the future were all dashed in an instant. I felt awful for a few days, but began to recover, and things are going well again for me. So what’s that got in common with moving out? Why would I tell you two seemingly unrelated stories?
Adaptability is a skill required to live a successful life. Specifically, to be adaptively attuned to life is the praxis of adaptability. It’s always being adaptable. I’m currently writing this from Winnipeg, a city that one was colder than Mars (I’m not kidding). Why the fuck am I writing this in a city so devoid of thermal energy that uninhabited planets farther away from the sun can’t even beat it? Short answer: I’m here on business. I’ve never travelled on my own, let alone for business, so there are a lot of things that have to take place. Getting to the right gate, getting the rental car, the hotel, finding the office you need to be at, finding places to eat and pick up supplies, etc. Normally, I’d have been an anxious wreck about all of this, worrying about where things are, if things will be okay, if I’ll get into an accident or if I’ll get lost. I’m not thinking about those things, because I’m adaptively attuned into life.
To put it simply, being adaptively attuned is to be aware of the changing nature of life and to just go with it. To be ready to receive whatever life tosses at you, even if you don’t know what it will be. It’s truly a beautiful state to achieve because it means you don’t give in to the anxious worrying of the mind, or you don’t give in to the natural instinct to resist change. You let it happen and go with it.
I’m adaptively attuned to life lately. I’ve experienced my share of bad emotions from the breakup, and they’re gone. With arms wide open, I embraced the changing living situation I’m in and I do what needs doing. In this foreign city, I’m living just as if I was in my own town and forgot where everything was (thank God for Google Maps).
So the question becomes, how do we become adaptable? How can we build that skill?
I’ve broken it down into what I think are the main characteristics.
- Being aware of yourself and your surroundings.
- Trust your instincts
- Be open to change
- Focus on your goal
- Stay positive
Awareness of self and the world around you is the number one step to achieving any sense of true happiness, and I’ll say it over and over again in every single post I make. Self-awareness and mindfulness are so important to living a good life. If you don’t know what you want, if you don’t know what you’re thinking or feeling, if you don’t know how to handle intrusive and anxious and sad thoughts, you will not thrive anywhere except inside your comfort zone. I’m so far removed from my comfort zone I can’t even see it these days.
Your instincts, your gut feeling: that visceral part of you that just knows when to do or not do something. Listen to it. You may try to think yourself out of a situation, but sometimes your body is picking up on signals that your brain just can’t communicate.
Being open to change is a little bit of a re-hash of the first point, but allow me to explain. Change is a natural part of life. If nothing changed, we wouldn’t even exist because the single-celled organisms we originated from would never evolve and you wouldn’t be reading this, so just accept change, alright? But seriously, realize that you can’t control anything in the world absolutely except yourself. That means that if all of a sudden, you find out that you have to move out, or suddenly travel to a new city, you just have to accept it and eat the fear that initially springs up. Whenever a new situation arises, people’s first instinct is to be afraid. Now, I said listen to your instincts, but what I should say is selectively listen to your instincts. Fear of a change is just fear of the unknown, and the unknown becomes known after time. If you can’t know the unknown right now, but you will eventually, then why worry about what the unknown holds if you’ll find out about it later? Allow things to happen, and you’ll see that life is easier.
Focus on your goal. Whatever that goal is, you need to go after that goal in the new situation. When I moved out, my goal suddenly became to build good habits in my own home, because I know too many people who only clean their house when company comes over, or people who eat out all the time because they’re too lazy to cook. In a change of relationship status, the ultimate goal (getting back together is often not a wise goal after a breakup) is to feel better. How do you do it? You know that feeling better comes after the grief, so experience the grief. Be sad, take a day off, cry, watch movies that make you feel something, spend all day in bed. Whatever your new situation, be adaptable by staying focused on what you want while navigating the new landscape before you.
Positivity is where everything comes together. Success rarely comes to negative people. Not blind positivity either, that’s for suckers. Realistic positivity is where it’s at. Tell yourself that you’re going to get through it. Celebrate the small successes as they come, because if you gloss over every small win you take, you’ll feel like you’ll never see the light at the end of the tunnel, and all you have to do is open your eyes a little. Give yourself some positive self-talk too. It’s okay to tell yourself you’re doing well, or even acknowledging when you made a mistake. When you lie to yourself, you’re really only hurting yourself in the long run.
Staying adaptive and adaptively tuning into life can take you from someone tripping and falling through an obstacle course to one of those champion American Ninja type people who just see the challenges in front of them, and dive right into working around them.