Stage 1: Late Status Quo
Here you are in the (mostly) uneventful present, and the skies are (mostly) clear. But this stage is called late status quo because—though you don't yet know it—something is about to come along and...
Stage 2: Foreign Element
...Bam! An unexpected event occurs. You get a call from your doctor or called into your boss's office; you're hit with a lawsuit or you hit the jackpot. Whatever it is, the foreign element tells you, instantly and urgently, that everything has changed.
Stage 3: Chaos
Your life has been turned upside down. What you thought you knew cries out for reexamination. What you'd hoped for, planned for, or predicted may no longer be possible or even relevant. You may have to recalibrate your very understanding of yourself. Little about this process is pleasant—but it does get you somewhere important. The chaos phase works as a kind of incubator, a laboratory where suffering and confusion can lead to something valuable.
Stage 4: Transforming Idea
You have an epiphany, a stroke of inspiration brought about by all that disorder. Something clicks into place, clarifies. You perceive a way forward—or at least the possibility of one. And you begin to ponder ways to put that revolutionary idea into motion.
Stage 5: Integration and Practice
This is the period when you test-drive that transformative concept, investigating its merits and pitfalls, determining whether it can sustain you in the long term. You may find that you backslide once, twice, multiple times into chaos—you may generate and discard several transforming ideas before you find the one that fits. But don't be discouraged. Trial and error are exactly what the integration and practice phase is for.
Stage 6: New Status Quo
As you acclimate to a new approach or outlook, you ease back into relative peace. The storm clouds dissipate; the skies begin to lighten. You're relieved to be here—but also proud to still be standing. Pat yourself on the back: You've made it to the other side.
Your Mishap Mixtape
Don't let us stop you from queuing up "I Will Survive" when the going gets tough—but you might also consider adding these songs to your playlist, each of which will help you head-bop your way through almost any big adjustment.
Track 1: "Carry On" - Fun
Good for: Grieving a loss, letting someone go, skipping town
A bittersweet ballad extolling the virtues of leaving your pain behind—or as singer Nate Ruess piercingly wails, "May your past be the sound / Of your feet upon the ground."
Track 2: "Hold On" - Alabama Shakes
Good for: Getting fired, dumped or otherwise kicked around
Bighearted and triumphant, this song is as motivational as they come. What's more rousing than a gravelly wise woman bellowing, "Come on, girl, you got to get back up?"
Track 3: "Do You Realize??" - The Flaming Lips
Good for: Existential malaise, crises of faith
When singer Wayne Coyne croons in this soaring, strings-laden number "the sun doesn't go down / It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round," you can't help but believe—and appreciate—every last word.
Track 4: "Float On" - Modest Mouse
Good for: Troubles so absurd that all you can do is laugh
Life is unpredictable—but also hilarious. "I backed my car into a cop car the other day," this jaunty song begins. And later: "We both got fired on exactly the same day." But oh, that warm refrain: "And we'll all float on..."
Track 5: "Follow the Sun" - Xavier Rudd
Good for: Loneliness, loss, pessimists looking to reform
This Australian singer-songwriter's spare, bouncing ode to keeping your sorrow in perspective ("Many moons have risen and fallen long, long before you came") is both lovely and reassuring.
Track 6: "My Silver Lining" - First Aid Kit
Good for: Curative road trips, steeling yourself for the next phase
Honey-voiced sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg encourage us to live without compromise ("Be it for reason, be it for love / I won't take the easy road")—advice as disarming as it is inspiring.