“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words, “And this too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!” Abraham Lincoln
Everything in our universe is impermanent. Things are always in a state of change. This can be a source of frustration or comfort, but it is a fact nonetheless. There is no status quo. Once we achieve goals, we can’t just stop and remain fixed in that happy moment. When we finally arrive at our destinations, there is no way to pause life and stay at that destination forever. We are always moving forward or backward, improving or deteriorating.
When muscles aren’t used, they don’t retain their strength. Instead, they atrophy. If we use our muscles, they get stronger; if we don’t, they get weaker. Also, our muscles require resistance to grow. As we increase resistance, physical strength improves.
The mind works the same way. We never remain mentally in the same condition any more than we remain physically in the same condition. Every minute of every day, our brains are changing, adapting, rewiring themselves based on what they encounter. And, like our muscles, resistance is essential for our minds’ improvement. Problem-solving, creativity, empathy, and learning all require our brains to work, to overcome resistance, to engage in novel ways that strengthen our mental abilities. However, without challenges, our mental abilities will atrophy in the same way that physical abilities do.
Today, critically examine the various facets of your life and answer the question, “Am I going forward or backward?” Are you seeking challenges? Do you lean into opportunities to do new things? Do you look forward to challenging your physical and mental abilities? Although we might be perfectly happy with the way we currently are, it is impossible to stay the same. The inherent impermanence of the universe will not allow it.
But that’s not a bad thing.
Impermanence means that we are never stuck. It means that our mistakes can be fixed and our relationships repaired. It means that our circumstances are malleable and our bad moods are guaranteed to improve.
Impermanence is a two-way street. Forward or backward…which way are you going?