How to Survive Change that Sucks

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Change makes us happy. Eventually.

But first, it usually sucks.

This is what Gretchen Rubin calls a Happiness Paradox: happiness doesn’t always make me feel happy – especially when it involves change.

How do we get through that hard part? How do we find the grit necessary to keep going so that we end up in the happy place when the getting there is so dang uncomfortable?

construction zone

Accept the discomfort.

Pretending that change is all rainbows and butterflies doesn’t make it any less fun. At best, it lets us look like we’re fine while we’re quietly struggling. At worst, faking it creates a block we can’t identify between us and where we were hoping to end up.

It’s totally normal to struggle through change, even change you wanted. Know that. Accept that. Go ahead and give yourself permission to hate it.

Hang tight to gratitude.

When the daily grind is particularly grinding – as it tends to be when we’re in periods of transition – it helps to cling to counting blessings. Focus on the little things, the small moments that made you smile amidst the chaos. Practice gratitude every day.

Gratitude doesn’t make the growing pains disappear, but it helps make them bearable. It helps you maintain perspective, so that the fear and discomfort doesn’t drown you before you make it to the other side.

Do what makes you happy.

There’s nothing that says you’re entire life has to be hard, even when you are going through a transition. Know that your happiness reserves are being depleted quickly, and take the time to refill them with whatever you know makes you happy.

Eat your favorite foods. Go outside. Take a long bath. Paint. Listen to good music. Allow yourself to indulge in your personal preferences, your own brand of happiness boosters, whenever you can right now. You deserve it, and you’ll need it.

What’s your best survival tip for change that sucks?

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  1. Evelyn Lim says:

    I enjoyed reading your article very much. Change is usually not easy. And as you have pointed out, it can suck. A little indulgence like taking a long bath or eating ice cream may not make the pain go away but it can help provide some relief.

    My best tip is meditation. I sit in silence and just be :-)
    Evelyn Lim’s most recent post: How to Practice Loving Self-Acceptance

  2. It’s funny how somedays what I write about and what other blogs and such I read write about intersect, or at least get up and dance on the same floor together, the way dancing is or was last time I went dancing…

    Change is often a big giant sucking the Life outta me experience and oftener still, it happens in a blink. I recently made a decision that I am sitting with for Now, about NOT making a change I thought I was up to making.

    What I’ve learned is that Life is like this. A LOT!! so I’ve grown comfortable with making decisions quietly, then living with them awhile to see if how I feel in a day or a few or even a week. I’ve learned so much from this practise.

    I love the 3 guidelines you give. I love how simply you’ve stated your thoughts on this. I love that we’ve both approached a thing, at least in my mind, from where we are and found a common ground.

    This is the sort of things that REALLY helps me navigate change, BE it the sucking sort or simply the kind of itchy and uncomfortable kind.
    Currie Silver’s most recent post: Currie’s Gratitude 4 June 2013

    • Miss Britt says:

      I actually read another post on this same topic yesterday. I swear it’s the hive mind! :-)

  3. Megan says:

    When the daily grind is particularly grinding – as it tends to be when we’re in periods of transition…

    I’ll say. I’m experiencing this now. I’m getting through it by focusing on the little pleasures – a cup of tea at the end of the day, tucking into a new book, my Tuesday night bath, watching a favorite old TV show on Netflix. And plotting my new life. :)
    Megan’s most recent post: Cherry Forever

    • Miss Britt says:

      You do better than anyone I know at making the little pleasures a priority.

      (I know that daily grind right now sucks. I really do. xo)

  4. i try to keep the big picture in mind, but it can be hard to do while in the midst of everything.

    for example, right now, our house is under renovation. there’s dirt and mud everywhere where our yard (that i sodded last summer) is being torn to pieces, and it’s on month 3 when it was supposed to take 3 weeks. i’ve had to cancel 2 parties that were set to take place on our new patio/deck. i get frustrated and mad every time i’m home and see the progress or lack thereof.

    but, i try to think “this will be great in july!” i hope.
    Father Muskrat’s most recent post: the rise and fall of lola the muskrat

  5. Remember to breathe and to remember past times when you had to accept difficult change and how in the long run it was for the better. This helps me to remember I got through that pain and so I can get through this pain.
    Sebastian Aiden Daniels’s most recent post: Am I gay, straight or bi?

    • Miss Britt says:

      This is really good advice. I forget sometimes that not everyone has a blog they can reread. lol

  6. Sheila says:

    I’m with Currie Silver – “….I’ve grown comfortable with making decisions quietly, then living with them awhile to see if how I feel in a day or a few or even a week. I’ve learned so much from this practise.”

    Of course, I do it because, when it comes to good change, I’m cynical and pessimistic so I’m always sure that things won’t work out the way I’d planned. I’m right about 90% of the time.

    When it’s “bad change”, I don’t tell most people because I don’t have a lot of people I feel comfortable unloading on. Obviously, there are some “bad change” instances that I have to tell people about (i.e. I’m pretty sure that people would’ve noticed that my mom stopped going to church and family functions)but I try to just keep shit to myself.

    It’s much easier only depending on yourself. It can be lonely though.

    I might have missed the point of this exercise.
    Sheila’s most recent post: FAIL

    • Miss Britt says:

      It wasn’t an exercise, so you’re fine. ;-)

      I’m trying to get better at making my decisions quietly. In my case, it’s an act of maturity and growth, of not needing 100 people to validate my decision before I act on it.

  7. Oof. This was the right time for me to read this. Thanks.
    Abby – Bright Yellow World’s most recent post: G is for Greenery

  8. This is such a helpful perspective. even in extreme cases, such as widowhood:

    It’s the kind of involuntary change where “sucks” feels like an absurd understatement. Few people expect or imagine that it could lead to happiness, ever. On the contrary – it feels like the ultimate end of happiness.

    And yet, the potential is there. It can happen and it does happen, even if we don’t hear about it often and even if it’s a special and bittersweet kind of happiness.

    It takes much patience, it takes loads of inner work and courage, and it absolutely does help to follow the advice in this post while moving through it!

    • Miss Britt says:

      Halina, I’m glad you mention a tough example. I talk a little in my book about coping with the changes we don’t want and how to find happiness there, but it’s definitely a sensitive topic!

  9. autumnesf says:

    Laugh. Laugh at how bad it sucks. Laugh at how absurd it really is. We’ve been doing alot of laughing the last year and it really helps.

  10. Jen Anderson says:

    Comfort reading or TV. When life is too stressful, it’s time to reread the Harry Potter books. You’re going to spend some time reading or watching TV anyway, so you might as well pick something soothing when you need it.
    Jen Anderson’s most recent post: Happy Jen’s Birthday

  11. Melizzard says:

    Make yourself ask for help even when you don’t want to. People want to help, but don’t know what to do sometimes. Direct them, even when it seems easier to just with things yourself.
    Melizzard’s most recent post: Literary Rites Of Passage

  12. You need to match your blueprint to feel full and alive. Life doesn’t always go our way, and things change along the way, including major events in our life. This means changing your life or changing your story.
    Armando Porter’s most recent post: No last blog posts to return.

  13. Glenn Murphy says:

    Gretchen Ruben, author of the book and blog The Happiness Project, notes in her “Secrets of Adulthood” that happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy. For example, many people dislike physical exercise (me for instance). The activity itself may be difficult and unpleasant for me, but over time, the benefits I will gain from exercising will make me happier in the long run. In other words, your grandmother was right. You can’t have dessert unless you eat your veggies.
    Glenn Murphy’s most recent post: No last blog posts to return.

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