My life shifted when I started to think more temporary and less permanent.
What I mean by this is, previously, I considered most aspects of my life to be permanent. I defaulted to thinking jobs, relationships, feelings, etc. were permanent features in my life.
To be fair, many people are permanence-minded. I would argue society teaches us to be this way. We are led to believe our studies will lead to our permanent jobs and that we will stay married to the same person for life. We learn permanence is the goal — it’s stability, safety. We strive for permanence.
The thing is: achieving permanence is incredibly difficult. There are some people who find a permanent job and a permanent spouse. However, many of us will switch jobs, get divorced, realize our lives are filled with temporary elements we misconstrued as being permanent. We get disappointed because we fail at achieving this goal of permanence.
Personally, I thought being a newspaper reporter was my permanent job and I was devastated when I realized it wasn’t. Bitterness and despair dominated my life the months before and after I quit that job.
During that time, I thought back to what I had been told after my aunt died when I was 18. Someone — I can’t remember who — said I should try to take things day-by-day and, if that didn’t work, hour-by-hour or minute-by-minute or even second-by-second.
Thinking in the temporary has helped me get through my life’s most traumatic events, pulled me out of my darkest places. In those moments, I think about how the negative feelings are temporary. And, I remember how this person I am right now, in this dark moment, is not my permanent self. Just like most everything else, I am a temporary being filled with temporary thoughts and feelings.
Initially, I worried that thinking in the temporary would increase my anxiety. I feared I would be anxious about losing everything, everyone, at any given moment. But those fears were still rooted in being permanence-minded.
I had to switch my view that permanent is the default. It isn’t. Temporary is the default.
After making this switch in thought, I became much less anxious and much more deliberate in the way I conducted my life. Now, I appreciate good moments more. I care more about other people. I don’t fall into despair when plans fail. I am just a significantly happier person.
With all of that said, I still desire the stability and safety that permanence offers. And, if a relationship or a job becomes more permanent and less temporary, I would also be happy. However, I have learned that temporary elements — jobs, relationships, feelings –can also offer safety and stability.
The temporary can bring me happiness… you know, temporarily.