My 6 year old daughter went on her first roller coaster on Saturday at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. It’s called “The Comet” and it was perfect for her height and age. She went on it with her mom and it was our last ride of the day just before the park was closing. I asked her if she was sure she wanted to go and like a typical over confident 6 year old she said, “Yea!!!”. OK – sorry I asked! She’s really not this bold but was just brave enough that day to put on a happy face and give it a go. She did it….and twice! She went on the ride that some adults (me included) won’t even try.
When she finally came back down, I asked her how she felt and if she was scared at all and she said, “It was really cool. It went up and then down like this [wavy hand gestures] and round and up again. My heart was beating very fast. It was so much fun. I was scared just a little bit but then not scared at all. I was a big girl. It was sooooo much fun!”
On the long drive home to New Jersey, my daughter’s comment got me thinking about how most of us go to great lengths to avoid the “roller coasters of life”. What I mean by this is that we enjoy being in our comfort zone and tend to shy away from things that make us a wee bit insecure. We like our cup of coffee exactly the same in the morning. We like the same parking spot at the train/bus station. The same spot on the sofa while watching TV. The same road going to work. We like our predictable and comfortable ways of doing things. And we get used to expecting those things NOT to change. But guess what happens when we do encounter something out of the ordinary? Or when someone doesn’t treat us as nice as we expect? Or a situation that doesn’t go our way? The answer is: we feel pretty dissatisfied. Disappointed. And let down.
The reality is that living in our chaotic world today, life is so uncertain and unpredictable that we are bound to encounter situations that put us out of our comfort zone. We will absolutely go through ups and downs with surprises that bring joy, laughter and tears. And while going through life with the same routines may provide some solace in turbulent times, they also blind us and make us a little complacent. And that’s dangerous.
I believe that by training ourselves to learn to live with uncomfortable situations, we can be better prepared to absorb the shocks of sudden changes in our life. And we can start to do this fairly easily by making small changes to our daily routine. And it doesn’t have to be so complex. Try taking a different route to work. Park in a different spot each day. Sit somewhere different while eating dinner, watching TV or attending a meeting. Pick up a magazine that you don’t normally read. Order something unusual at a restaurant. Cook a new recipe that is atypical of your personality. These are small things and so easy to do but with momentum they can create the right atmosphere in your mind. A mindset that gets accustomed to mixing things up a bit. By slightly changing our habits little bit each day, we can be better prepared to deal with uncertainty and chaos and sure enough be ready to take on that major roller coaster of life.