Sea Change course – Designing a Well-Lived Life

Lesson 3: Navigating Uncertainty

[Sea Change graphic and theme song]

Hi my friends, Leo here. Welcome to our Sea Change lesson. And this one is on navigating uncertainty. Again it’s a part of our course “Designing a Well-Lived Life”.

So, navigating uncertainty. Why is this in the course? Well I’ve found that – you know, we talked about mindfulness and appreciation, and connecting to meaning. I’ve found that whatever it is that we’re doing, whether we’re off on a life purpose and mission, whether we’re doing something grand and life-changing or world-changing, or we’re just doing our everyday stuff like gardening, washing dishes, taking care of our family, taking care of ourselves by exercising – whatever we’re doing, we want to be happy doing it. And we have to deal with whatever difficulties come up in order to be happy and not struggle too deeply. Right?

So, the thing that happens is we become stressed out, we become anxious, we become frustrated, we become angry. We dislike something, we want to get away from it. These are all things that happen because of uncertainty.

So uncertainty is something that is inherent in everything we do. If I’m gonna start a new business, if I’m gonna start a new job, even if I’m only gonna go to my regular job and do my regular duties, there is uncertainty there. If I’m becoming a parent, if I am starting a new exercise program and trying to lose weight, all of these things are filled with inherent uncertainty. Every moment has uncertainty, “Should I be doing this or doing something else? Am I missing out while I’m doing this? Are other people living a better life? Am I good enough to do a good job at whatever it is I’m doing?” There’s all kinds of uncertainty like that, and more. And there are no certain answers to any of these questions. I can’t give them to you, and neither can anyone else.

So given that there is inherent uncertainty in every moment, in everything that we do, what is our usual reaction? Our usual reaction is we don’t like uncertainty, we want control, we want certainty, we want order, we want a list of things to do and an idea that we’re gonna be certainly doing those things, that they’re the right things to do. We want that kind of assurance. And it doesn’t exist. Because you can make the best list in the world, and yet you don’t know that it’s the best list in the world. You don’t know that it’s right. And no-one can say that it’s right.

You can do the first thing on that list and say, “Well this is my top priority,” and then you’re like, “Well should I be doing these things?” Or maybe you decide, “Yes, that’s definitely the thing I should be doing, but am I gonna be able to do it? Am I gonna do it well? Is it too hard for me? Maybe I should be checking my email instead.”

So given that we have uncertainty, given that we don’t like it, given that we want to get out of it, and we often procrastinate because of it, what should we do about this situation?

Well our usual response is to try to and get away from it. To procrastinate, to put it off, to quit, to check something real quick, to be distracted, to lose focus. But instead, what we’ve talked about in Sea Change and what I would like you to think about practicing over the next year as you think about designing a well-lived life, instead what we can do is actually stay in the uncertainty. And get good at being there and finding a comfort level of being in uncertainty. Of navigating the uncertain waters of our day and our lives, without needing to get too stressed out about it.

Now some stress will come up, and some frustration and anger will always come up. But we can notice that those stresses are there, that the anger and frustration is there, and we can say, “What’s at the heart of it? Well, there’s some uncertainty here. And I really want to lash out at someone as a way to feel some certainty.” That can be a way of feeling certainty, is feeling like you’re right, that you’re justified, that you have struck back at someone because they did something wrong to you. And that’s the right thing to do, that feels certain. When actually it isn’t. But it feels like it. It’s your way of coping with the uncertainty. Feels a little better to lash out at someone when they’ve attacked you in some way, made you feel uncertain about whether you’re a good person or not.

So, these are usual ways of doing it. But instead we’re going to stay in the uncertainty, get good at being there, notice that we’re there, and actually open up to it.

And see that the uncertainty is actually a part of life. It’s a beautiful part of life. That uncertainty is not something to run away from, but actually we’re okay sitting in the middle of it. That it is actually a part of life that makes life wonderful. Without uncertainty life would be boring. If we knew how every day was going to turn out, how boring would that be? If we knew what everyone thought about us, that’s not fun. It’s better to explore the world and not know what’s gonna come up of it. It’s like going out for a walk and not knowing exactly where you’re going. You’re just gonna go out and be curious and explore. That is a part of navigating uncertainty and appreciating the beauty of it. Uncertainty allows us to learn, without – if we were certain about everything we would never have to learn anything. But actually learning is a beautiful process. It’s a part of what we’re doing here in life. It’s part of our well-lived life, is learning and growing. Without uncertainty we wouldn’t be able to grow. Uncertainty is the spark, is the medium of our growth. It is the fuel for our growth. It is the material for our growth, that we build our growth upon. So uncertainty is a big part of all of that learning and growth, and curiosity, and exploration, and surprise. Uncertainty is at the heart of falling in love. It’s the excitement of a roller coaster and romance.

So, once we can start to notice we’re in uncertainty, stay in it and not need to run, and feel more comfortable with it, we can actually start to open up to the beauty of it and see that it contains all of this and enables all of this. See the opportunity in our uncertainty rather than needing to run. We can open our hearts to it, stay in the middle of it, even find gratitude in it. Even when we’re not feeling any of these things, gratitude or appreciation for the beauty of uncertainty, we can still stay, still be open to whatever is coming up for us and not need to reject it. [audible deep breath out with sighing “hah” sound] That is navigating the uncertain waters of life. That is how we deal with uncertainty in a way that is mindful, that is full of appreciation and joy and love.

We can do that as we navigate our relationships, there will be uncertainty there. We can do that as we navigate our work and our life purpose and our mission, and even just our daily duties, there will be uncertainty in all of that. We can do that as we navigate our day, and do our chores, and take care of ourselves, and eat, and talk to people, and deal with emails and social media, all of that stuff. We can navigate through uncertainty with these kinds of techniques.

So there are lessons in other courses in this Sea Change program where I talk about uncertainty. You can look them up. Look for fearlessness and mindfulness and all of the other wonderful courses that we’ve done together. But in this lesson I just want you to think about whether navigating the uncertain waters of life is something you want to work on over the next year, in order to have that well-lived life. Is it a part of your design? I actually recommend it, I think it’s a key part of a well-lived life. But it might not be what you think of as a well-lived life. So think about that, and then plan to practice in uncertainty in the future, the next year or so. Take the course that appeals to you, that talks about uncertainty, and then practice with it on a regular basis so that you can get good at it and not need to run from it, not need to fear it, and in fact relish it, find the deliciousness in it.

Okay guys I’ll talk to you in the next lesson. Bye-bye.