So many things change. Leaves fall, friends move away, children leave home. My dad died a year ago, and my mom about ten years before that. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting older (darn, there is no fooling the mirror).

The world changes, too. Evolving technologies alter jobs and lives. Elections happen and different people take charge. New restaurants open while others close.

Experience itself is always changing, right at the front edge of now. So are the neural substrates of this moment’s experience, fleeting coalitions of millions of synapses coming into being even as they disperse, while the molecular structures of individual synapses themselves are dynamically constructing and deconstructing in the blink of an eye.

It’s kind of unsettling! Especially if things you care about are changing for the worse at any scale, from a big scratch on a table because someone dropped a plate on it (that was me a few days ago) to a factory closing to the chilling title of an article in Science magazine: “Ecological selectivity of the emerging mass extinction in the oceans.”

And yet.

All around, and under our noses, so many good things last. Recognizing them lifts the heart, and enjoying them for at at least a few seconds in a row helps turn passing experiences into lasting psychological resources woven into your own brain. Which among other benefits makes you more able to deal with things that are changing for the worse.

The Practice.

Look around and see things you like that were here yesterday – and maybe here many years ago as well. For me writing, that includes a desk, a collage on the wall that I made a long time ago that continues to guide me, and trees and hills seen through a window. As you look around, recognize the relative stability of so many things. Sure, most if not all will pass away eventually – the universe is nearly 14 billion years old, so “in the long run” is really l-o-n-g – but for all practical purposes, there is so much lasting good literally within reach of your hands and feet right now.

As you see what lasts, take a few moments to get a sense of it’s still-being-here-for-you-ness, its reliability and trustworthiness. Allow a natural sense of reassurance, perhaps relief, to emerge. Perhaps a calming, a relaxing, a sense of the security of those things that are stable. Notice anxious doubts if they come up, and let them change and pass away, knowing that the future will be whatever it is but meanwhile whatever good that is true is really actually true right now.

Consider people in your life, and the good that’s lasting there. Friendship, goodwill toward you, your own love for others. It’s ongoing, persistent, factual. Especially if you tend toward feeling insecure in relationships, keep returning to the sense of real caring stably flowing toward you while your own compassion and kindness and decency keep extending out to others. Take in the good of this security of wholesome relatedness, receiving it into yourself like a warm soothing balm sinking into you.

Consider the good in your past. It will always have been good, even if it is here no longer. Your own accomplishments, personal disasters avoided, crazy good fun times with friends, the ripples of your own sincere efforts large and small – nothing at all can ever erase what actually happened.

How about the durable good inside you? Fair play, talents and skills, moral values, neat quirks, so much knowledge: it’s all real. Enjoy the felt recognition of it, like savoring the sight of beautiful art and gold and jewels in your own personal treasure chest.

See the durability of life itself. It’s been going on locally in our planet for at least 3.5 billion years. Things have changed and will change, and I am not trying to minimize bad changes, especially those involving human hands. Still, life will keep going in one form or another as long as the Earth keeps going (which should be at least a few more billion years, until our sun gradually expands to be a red giant, swallowing up Mercury, Venus, and us – but that’s a while from now). Each of us is a local wave in the vast sea of life rippling here and now; waves come and go but the ocean as ocean endures.

And if it’s meaningful for you as it is for me, you could recognize and enjoy whatever is not subject to arising and passing away, that which is eternal, unconditioned, transcendental, by whatever name we give it or no name at all.

Enjoy it all. The more we recognize impermanence, the more we can take refuge in the good that lasts.

As Raymond Carver wrote:

“And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.”

Author's Bio: 

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and New York Times best-selling author. His books are available in 26 languages and include Hardwiring Happiness, Buddha’s Brain, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture. He edits the Wise Brain Bulletin and has numerous audio programs. A summa cum laude graduate of UCLA and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, he’s been an invited speaker at NASA, Oxford, Stanford, Harvard, and other major universities, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. His work has been featured on the BBC, CBS, and NPR, and he offers the free Just One Thing newsletter with over 120,000 subscribers, plus the online Foundations of Well-Being program in positive neuroplasticity that anyone with financial need can do for free.