Bruce Feiler has long explored the stories that give our lives meaning. Galvanized by a personal crisis, he spent the last few years crisscrossing the country, collecting hundreds of life stories of Americans in all 50 states who have been through major life changes—from losing jobs to losing loved ones; changing careers to changing relationships; getting sober to getting healthy to simply looking for a fresh start. He then spent a year coding these stories, identifying patterns and takeaways that can help all of us survive and thrive in times of change.
What Feiler discovered was a world in which transitions are becoming more plentiful and the skills to manage them more urgent for all of us to master. The idea that we’ll have one job, one relationship, one source of happiness is hopelessly outdated. We all feel unnerved by this upheaval. We’re concerned that our lives are not what we expected, that we’ve veered off course, living life out of order. But we’re not alone.
“Life Is in the Transitions,” Feiler’s latest book, introduces the fresh, illuminating vision of the nonlinear life, in which each of us faces dozens of disruptors. One in ten of those becomes what Feiler calls a life-quake, a massive change that leads to a life transition. The average length of these transitions is five years. The upshot: We all spend half our lives in this unsettled state. You or someone you know is going through one now. Feiler also explores ways to navigate these transitions, a tool kit for helping get through times of change with meaning, purpose and skill.
It is good to know as we continue to move through this challenging time that disruptions are more common than ever. Remember that there is goodness even in the toughest times, and do your best to be open to re-imagining your life.