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Charles Darwin wrote that species that adapted more quickly to the changes in their environment were more likely to survive. That same idea applies to human groups and to individuals. Those of us who are most practiced at adapting to new situations are the ones who can move into totally new situations and learn to thrive. Those who are locked into their patterns of behavior and refuse to accept the new realities of their situation will come into conflict with their local environment and will suffer when it changes. In our world, nothing remains the same forever and ultimately, if you observe closely, everything is changing every moment. Most of the time, when changes are small enough the old patterns and habits will function okay, and people will form rigid responses to resist the changes. Getting tough will appear to work and thus they can keep applying their same old habits, but there will be stress associated with the tough approach. The tough strategy seems to work but it fails in the long run because it leads to extra stress and adaptations to things that are not working well. There is a need to justify the nonfunctional behavior and thus a tendency to believe things that are not factual. It is called confirmation bias when facts are sought to support one’s preconceived idea of how things ought to be. It is a way to avoid adapting to new situations and ultimately it is the path to failure.

The tip is to practice adapting quickly to new situations by placing yourself in unfamiliar situations and attempting to thrive. This is done in social situations by finding groups of new people with whom you don’t have much previous experience and developing functional relationships with them. It is done in physical situations where you have little experience by learning a new skill. It is done in mental situations by reading books that are outside of your experience. The operative concept is to find new easy situations and practice adapting to them, and then intentionally find more difficult situations and try adapting to those. The goal is to cultivate adaptations quickly. One formalized way to cultivate this skill is to join an improvisation group. That is challenging but it can be a lot of fun too.

Practice, practice, practice finding and adapting to new situations.

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