April 27, 2018

Life Principle - Maintain Stability

Whenever possible keep the amount of change in your life to a minimum. Life goes better with orderly, planned changes. Sometimes expressed as "Only change one thing at a time".

I spoke with a member of my congregation early this morning who wanted some advice on a matter. No names or details, but I did give them some advice and shared the life principle that it was based upon. And now I'd like to share that same principle here because I think that it's a good one.

I love principles because they eliminate needless memorization (always good if you have a bad memory like I do). If you've heard me preach then there's a good chance you already knew this about me. I have always seen the bible as a book of principles more than a list of do's and don'ts and I try to take the same approach with my general life advice.

I don't have a specific quote for this principle, but it's simple enough that I don't think it'll hurt to not have one.

The world is a complicated enough place that most people do really well when they have a consistent schedule and are careful not to overload themselves. The classic advice given to parents is that their children will do well if they have consistency in their lives: a regular time when they are woken and a regular bedtime. This is true, not because they are children, but because they are humans. The reason why children do well with a stable schedule is that the whole household then revolves around those fixed points and everyone including the adults do well. The children then reflect the peace that comes with that household stability.

My recommendation to people, including my congregation member this morning, is to actively seek stability. Unless there are really good reasons otherwise, try never to change more than one thing at a time in your life and leave a good amount of time between any changes. We've all seen people try (or have even tried ourselves) to live better as a New Year resolution, but this typically ends in failure because we try to change so many things at once. Better to pick one thing and concentrate on that until the change has become the new normal condition for your life. At that point, feel free to select something else to work on and repeat the process.

In times of great difficulty, it may be necessary to change more than one thing at a time, but often it is still better to aim for stability. When one area (or even more than one area) of your life seems like it has gone completely crazy, the stability in the rest of your life will be an anchor that will help you weather that difficulty.

More classic advice which is typically given to people who are recently divorced or have had a loved one die: eat right, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. This is great advice, but not just nutritionally and physically. These three activities are powerful causes of stability in life and when they are embraced they anchor you firmly against storms.

So, if in doubt, don't make immediate or multiple changes. Consider your situation and give careful thought to how much you can keep the same. Don't start a new job and a new exercise routine at the same time. Both are good, but your life will be smoother if you integrate these changes one at a time. It can seem frustrating to make changes one at a time, but if you want the changes to have the best chance to stick in your life experience shows that this is the best way to do it.

Tags: Church Writings Living Well