For The Times They Are A-Changin’: How Do You Cope and Still Feel Good?

“Come gather ‘round people wherever you roam,
And admit that the waters around you have grown,
And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
And you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times, they are a-changin’…”

-Bob Dylan – Folk Singer/Songwriter


Who knew when Bob Dylan sang this poignant song on his album released in 1965 that it would be is as true today as it was in the ’60s? I’ve seen a lot of change, especially in the field of entertainment. We’ve gone from three primary television networks to hundreds of streaming channels. My mother-in-law in her mid-80s has observed even more change. Imagine listening to her share stories about gathering around the radio for family entertainment and then convincing her to try on a pair of VR goggles and step into the metaverse for fun. Mind-boggling when you think about the significant contrast.

While technology has allowed for major advancements, trouble is in the air. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just one element. Things just seem to pile up. Most of us have never lived through a pandemic, limiting our social contact with family and friends for over two years. The social withdrawal was abrupt and brutal. Now layer on top of that the American political divide, the Great Resignation era, throw in a pinch of personal trauma and a dash of drama and suddenly your world is upside down. But it doesn’t stop there. Oh no, there’s the one-two punch. We are constantly learning how to do things differently and quite often in contrast to our family upbringing. Getting into cars with strangers, putting our whole lives online when previously told by parents to keep your “private business” at home, and using your phone for practically EVERYTHING. Family dinners sometimes consist of everyone sitting at the table with their head in a device. For most, taking advantage of today’s technology is intuitive and fun. For others, it can be a frustrating challenge.

 So, how do you cope with changes and still feel good? Studies have shown that coping involves adjusting to unusual circumstances, demands, or stressors. According to the Cleveland Clinic, experiencing too many changes within a brief period often creates the idea that we aren’t in control of events. This perception contributes to low self-esteem and may even contribute to the development of anxiety or depression.

Given the above definition, that fits just about everybody in America.  

But there is a solution if you choose to accept it. The simplest answer is to stay present. It may be simple but definitely NOT easy without practice. If you really focus on your thoughts, you will find that much of your thinking is about the past that you wish you could have done things differently. Or worrying about “what ifs” that may never occur in the future.

A popular buzzword today is mindfulness – a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the present, without interpretation or judgment. There are four secret components of mindfulness if you look closely:

  1. Awareness without becoming overreactive or overwhelmed. Look, folks, sugar-honey-ice-tea (read between the lines) happens. Train your impulse to pause and engage in deep breathing exercises when it does. It also helps to count backward from 10 (for some people, but I have to start at 20, just sayin’) before you speak or act. Otherwise, you may cause more harm than good.
  2. The willingness to lean into ANY situation with curiosity. Sounds strange but if you shift your mindset to think, “I wonder how missing my flight is going to bring joy and purpose into my life RIGHT NOW?” You may be surprised to find out you are in the right place at the right time to help a friend or a stranger and not even know it.
  3. Look for the silver lining when things don’t turn out the way you expect. Before I became an entrepreneur, I worked in corporate America. I spent years climbing the career ladder and initially it was tough. Every interview eventually ended with the same response – someone else got the promotion. Turns out during later years, I discovered those jobs weren’t a perfect match for me or my skills after all. Look for the good in every situation no matter how it turns out.

Finally, remain open to asking for help or assistance. You must release any shame when reaching out. Sooner or later, everyone needs support in their life for some type of issue or concern. Don’t fall into the trap of isolation. If you have trouble finding support systems, search for community groups, non-profit organizations/hotlines, or hospitals to help guide you. There are also mindfulness apps you can download to your favorite device. In most cases, help is only a click away. Don’t forget the traditional coping methods as well. Take a walk, crank up the music and dance, talk to a friend, do something nice for someone else to name a few. While the times they are a-changin’, YOU are resilient as ever. Allow yourself to remain present and make room for learning and growth.  Whatever change may come – LIVE YOUR LIFE!

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