The writer and professor Arthur Brooks wrote a recent article “The Clocklike Regularity of Major Life Changes” about transitions. He cites plenty of research as well as anecdotal evidence to substantiate his article. He also has a great podcast episode about it.
Transitions are predictable and inevitable. On average, we can expect to encounter one every 12 to 18 months. Over a lifetime, we’ll probably experience three to five major, “life quake” transitions. Some good, some painful, but all lead to growth. Society as a whole, regularly faces life quake transitions. In the last two decades alone, we’ve had three: 9/11, The Great Recession, and now Covid.
Here’s the good news…
While transitions are difficult and painful to endure in the moment, when we look back on them, we almost always judge them to be a success. Moreover, because of “fading affect bias”, we remember them fondly. They can lead to deeper meaning and purpose. [This reminded me of the book “Tribe” by Sebastian Hunger in which he argues that painful events such as war (he by no means is an advocate) are ironically, often remembered more positively by the participants and affected individuals than “happier” times and events.] Brooks goes on to say that transitions also bring heightened creativity and energy.
Whatever we’re facing today, whatever lies ahead, regardless of why or how it happened, we’d be wise to lean into the uncertainty. Embrace transitions. Not resist them.
Perhaps knowing that growth, deeper meaning and purpose lay on the other side, will make it a little easier to leap into the abyss.