This article is based upon an excerpt from The Chill Panda: Dealing with Change in Work and Life. The story is about the unlikely encounter and friendship between Tom and Elvis the Panda.
Tom has been particularly anxious and restless as of late due to his work and the fluctuations in the economy, where businesses are collapsing; thus, the security of his job and future looks less certain.
Tom frowned and stared at his shoes. “I feel so insecure. I’m not sure what will happen to me if my job and financial circumstances change because of problems in the economy. With all that afflicts us in the rapidly changing world—the economy, disease, war and natural disasters, I want to be comfortable and not have to put up with changes.”
The panda replied, “Do not look for perfection in an imperfect world. Some things will happen all of a sudden, no matter how well you plan. Stay calm and centered at times like this, and don’t lose hope. It may be an opportunity for a change and something new in your life.”
After that, Elvis appeared to be sleeping. Tom waited a few minutes, glancing from his shoes to its round face. Finally, after a few minutes the panda yawned and said, “First, you need to understand that the world is in a state of constant change. In fact, the only thing that remains unchanged is change. If you develop inner resistance to the inevitability of change, you’ll create unnecessary stress and anxiety.”
To do this, Elvis recommended looking at life in a new way. “Change is to be embraced and celebrated, not feared. For without ending, there is no new beginning. That’s the rhythm of life. Creation, and sustenance, and endings only begin new cycles in life’s rhythms.”
“Sudden change may be a blessing in disguise because it allows us to look at ourselves and our circumstances in entirely new ways. Whenever a sudden change happens to you, be still, and take time to go within. Use such times for deep contemplation as it may be a golden opportunity to reevaluate your life. Maybe you can explore hidden talents and develop them for the long term. Maybe, you’ll come up with your next big dream.
“Old patterns, habits, and routines make life feel dull, mechanical, and bereft of purpose or direction. Create something new. Envision a new you. If you set out on a new adventure, you might see the circumstances of your life in terms of not just what is, but what can be.
“When something new presents itself, no matter how it seems to you at the outset, keep an open mind and see what unfolds. Don’t hold rigid views or expectations. That’s right. Don’t be rigid like the tree; rather, be flexible like the grass. Trees break in strong winds, whereas grass only bends by remaining flexible.
“To make changes, take baby steps, and build momentum over time. Initially, everything will seem difficult as it is an uphill battle, just as it is when we walk towards the top of a mountain. However, it becomes easier when we walk down again, once we’ve reached the top.
“Finally, remember, you will always play a role in everything that happens in your life. When something doesn’t go your way or you don’t get what you want, accept that you had some part in the way things turned out. Do not blame others or act like a victim.
“If you feel that you are a victim of a situation and start blaming, this does not serve you; in fact, this weakens you as you are acknowledging that an external force is in control, rather than taking mastery over your own mind and its emotions. This is one of the key lessons in self-understanding and self-mastery. Instead, learn to transcend and transform negative emotion to a place of love, harmony and compassion.
“Perhaps you can begin to think about what you are grateful for in your life. Being grateful for all the things that come your way, even lessons you thought were negative at the time they occurred, opens another door of opportunity. Soon you will realize all your obstacles are nothing but blessings in disguise.”
Tom was amazed by the panda’s wisdom and realized that even out of suffering, tragedy, and destruction, something of beauty can emerge.