Welcome to the “Lessons from Nature” series!
Last week I began with the story behind a profound insight I had: Humans may have the most complex brains on the planet, but nature as a whole has a better grip than humankind on how to successfully achieve a thriving quality of life.
What I mean by that is this: Each species instinctively knows what type of quality of life it is supposed to have on this Earth and actively works to achieve it. The only species that seems to have trouble doing so is humans (see my earlier blog post for more details). During this series I will be sharing with you a number of lessons we can learn from nature which will help us achieve a thriving quality of life more consistently. So let me begin:
We can learn a lot from nature about how to have a thriving quality of life by watching how all living things deal with the power of the wind.
Wind is an amazing part of nature and all living things instinctively know the power of the wind. Yet when it arrives they don’t fight its power. Instead they choose to flow with it. For example:
When a tree feels the wind coming, it doesn’t tense up and wait for it to arrive. Instead it stays relaxed, allowing the wind to whip through its leaves and branches; swaying with the wind and not against it. Trees understand that wind is a temporary experience and flowing with it allows the tree to conserve energy for more important things. If a tree was to fight against the wind every time it blew, it would loose far more branches and leaves over its lifetime.
Spiders use the wind in a number of ways. When they need to relocate they’ll let out a string of silk, allowing the wind to catch it and blow the spider to a new place. When they don’t want to move, but feel a strong wind coming, they will cling to their web with all eight legs holding tight until it passes – all the while keeping an eye out for danger as well as an opportunity to move to a safer spot if needed. Spiders instinctively know that they are less powerful than the wind, and therefore flow with it however they can.
Interestingly enough “wind” by its very characteristics is a change agent because wind is only “wind” when air is moving. And when air is moving it is affecting (changing) everything in its path in some way. You cannot help but notice when the wind picks up in an area because everything that isn’t nailed down begins to move.
Trees, spiders, and most other living things naturally understand that flowing with the winds of change is the key to experiencing a thriving quality of life. Fighting against it is a pointless waste of time. If only humans could learn that lesson….
Humans seem to always want to fight against the winds of change – especially unwanted change. When we sense it coming, we dig in and use all our energy to deflect it or avoid it. More than not the energy we spend doing so is wasted because the change we wanted to avoid typically happens anyway. Emotionally we become overstressed and then completely drained. And physically our bodies react through sickness or rashes, and any other number of physical symptoms.
If we could just learn from nature to flow with the changes in our lives, humankind would experience much less stress over a lifetime. Let me give you an example:
Imagine two people in two separate cities who do not know each other. One is named Mary and the other is named Sue. On a Wednesday morning they each head to work as usual. Upon sitting down at their desk they begin to notice things aren’t quite right. Their co-workers are whispering and making phone calls. Immediately everyone is called into a meeting where they all find out layoffs are scheduled to begin that day and will continue through the rest of the year.
Both Mary and Sue are a bit shocked, and all sorts of financial concerns begin to rise within them. Mary and Sue are in the first round of layoffs and must pack up their desks and be out the door within an hour. They are each given an exit package which will cover their expenses for about 90 days. Both are very nervous about their futures and go home with heavy hearts knowing they have to inform their families that things will be very different financially for a while. From that moment on, however, Mary and Sue’s lives begin to differ.
Mary hasn’t developed a habit of flowing with change, so she allows fear to begin controlling her decisions which inevitably brings more stress to an already stressful situation. Mary’s family is affected as well, causing her relationships with her spouse and children to become very strained. Within six months Mary finds a new job, but looking back Mary claims that timeframe was the worst six months of her life.
Sue, however, has developed a habit of flowing with the inevitables changes life brings. She has the same fears as Mary, but does not let them control her life. She looks past her fears and makes decisions based on what she wants to have happen – taking meaningful risks as needed along the way. She has an honest conversation with her spouse and children about their finances and encourages them to trust that everything will work out okay eventually. Within six months Sue also finds a job, but when she looks back over the last six months she is thankful she went through that situation because she learned many new things about herself and life in general along the way which will help her during difficult situations in the future .
Two people going through the same situation, yet having two very different outcomes purely because of how they dealt with it. Learning to flow WITH change, rather than fighting against it, is a key step to achieving a thriving quality of life.
Stay tuned next week for another lesson from nature. Have a fabulous day and don’t forget to keep an eye out for all the amazing possibilities within and around you!
C.E.O. Catalyst & Life Coach