WE like stability, except when we don't. Change is fine when we are the ones deciding to make things a bit different. But when change is forced upon us by others or by external events, we react negatively.

We live in a bubble, a delusion that things will stay more or less the same, at least for long periods of time. But both history and common sense tells us this is unbelievably naive.

A friend wrote to me recently about the state of the world. She said she felt this was, as Dickens put it, "the worst of times". She cited Brexit, the police brutality in Catalonia, and the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

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I replied pointing out that in our childhood in the sixties we had the Cuban crisis, Vietnam, Biafra, Rhodesia's apartheid regime, the assassinations of JFK, MLK, and Robert Kennedy, and at the end of that decade, the shooting dead by US military of four students in Ohio.

At a more mundane level change comes in many guises. We get sick, ill, require an operation. People we love get cancer. Relationships break up painfully. People we know die unexpectedly.

Change happens. Life is change. You are a flow of non-stop changes.

This has been a key message of three great philosophical civilisations of ancient times, all amazingly at roughly the same time, though thousands of miles from each another. In Ephesus in the 5th century BC the Greek philosopher Heraclitus taught the “no man steps into the same river twice”. Meanwhile in present-day Nepal and northern India, Gautama Siddhartha, soon to become known to the world as Buddha (the awakened one) taught that we are not stable solid selves, nor do we have immortal souls, but are, rather, more like a river, just as Heraclitus alluded to, a flow or constant shift, flux and change. And further east yet again, in China, the unknown author or authors of the Tao te Ching, though said to be written by the mythical Lao Tzu, explained that the entire universe is a flow, called Tao.

Although all three had different reasons for trying to bring this to the attention of humans in their own time, and differed in their interpretation of what to do about the reality of this highly scientific notion that everything is in flux and flow, they all agreed on one thing; we should realise that this is the case. We are not stable, fixed, unchanging. Nor is the world around us.

Get this deeply into our thick skulls, they were saying, because if you don’t you are going to be hit by every single bit of bad news, personal or global, that comes your way. You’ll no soon recover from one storm than another comes along and blows all your healing to bits again.

Mindfulness was deliberately devised as a tool of liberating yourself from such an unstable way of living and being. Gautama, the Buddha, worked it out for himself. If your mind gets knocked from pillar to post by not just all the truly awful things in life, but also, because we are petty little toddlers at heart, wanting everything to go our own way, then you better get in control of that mind, and the sooner the better.

Who is driving the bus? Donald Trump? Theresa May? The United Nations? The weather? A lone gunman shooting out at a crowd from a hotel window? The Taoists, the Buddha, and Heraclitus will tell you if you are wise enough to read their classic texts, just as scientists have told us for centuries now, that it’s all cause and effect. We blame the latest bad guy or woman but we don’t see that they are also the result of earlier events, and so on back in time forever. This is the way of change. It is relentless.

Notice clearly and calmly with mindfulness. Let go of useless or harmful mental reactions that arise in your head. Don’t be the cause of negative ripples streaming into the world just because you can’t control your emotions, your thoughts, your words. Try to be the cause, the catalyst of constructive influences, flows, ripples in this world. That’s all we can do; stop being a producer of negative causes and effects, and try where possible to be the creator of helpful ones.