"It's human nature to resist change, to run around like 2-year-olds saying 'No! No! No!' when things we didn't order show up. But while unforeseen events are hard to deal with, adding a tantrum makes them harder. My younger sister died recently after a long battle with cancer. Every time I feel the tide of No! rising in my heart, I catch myself. I sit down, close my eyes, put my hand on my chest, breathe, and whisper, 'Yes.' Yes, this happened. Yes, I can face it. Yes, I will feel the loss and not fight the grief. Because I've found that the changes I feared would ruin me have always become doorways, and on the other side I have found a more courageous and graceful self."
, stress and resilience expert and consultant
"When you're reeling during a big change, get your worst- and best-case scenarios down on paper. Doing so helps you see the situation more clearly and develop a plan. Also, do all you can to preserve hope. What does that mean? Well, hopeful people share four core beliefs: First, they believe their future will be better than their present. Second, they believe they have the power to direct how their life unfolds. Third, they realize there are many paths to their goals. And fourth, hopeful people know there will be obstacles—but they believe in their ability to overcome them."
Ellen Langer, PhD
, professor of psychology, Harvard University
"We have a tendency to confuse the stability of our mind-sets with the stability of the world. We hold something still with our heads, believing we know it, but it's changing regardless of how we perceive it. If you can notice things changing, you'll be less gutted by change. And whether or not you feel gutted by the change won't alter the outcome—it's still happening. Stress is a function of the views we take of events, not of the events themselves."
Alia Crum, PhD
, professor of psychology, Stanford University
"Any big change causes stress, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Your stress response is designed to help you meet the demands you face by increasing your focus. To harness it, first acknowledge that what you're going through is tough. Doing so changes where you experience the stress in your brain, moving it from the reactive amygdala to the more rational prefrontal cortex. Second, tell yourself you welcome the stress. This doesn't mean admitting the stressor is good. But stress occurs only when we care about something—so the third step is to think about how to use what stress tells you to create a life more vital than the one you had before."
"When you've been through an unexpected change, the old you dies and a new one is born. And therefore you must allow yourself to be a baby. Get emotional and moral support any way you can. Give yourself a limited time each day (at least an hour) to do nothing but focus on this adjustment. And don't make big decisions until you've got your legs under you. You don't even know who the new you will grow up to be, so postpone large commitments, giving yourself time and love. Everything else will take care of itself."