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Finding Order in Chaos: The art of mindful living

Updated: Jul 23, 2021

By Dr. Susan O’Leary

“Begin with life where you find it, and make it better.”

When I first learned about chaos theory while doing my psychology degree, the idea fascinated me. For my twenty-year-old mind, discovering that order might be found in what appeared random or out of control was an Aha moment. Even when I wasn’t too thrilled to see chaos in full action in my life, looking for order in disorder has helped me to seek solutions and find trust in times of confusion.

Our brains and nervous systems like organization and routine in order to feel safe, so chaotic events initiate various reactions that seek to stop the boat rocking. As a response to stress, we might take a deep breath, go for a massage, or have a mindful break. Self-care tools are great for soothing ourselves in the moment, but when we only use them in response to stress that is already in our body or situation, we may not recognize how they contribute the experience of well-being and the benefits of long-term change.

An opportunity for balance comes when we decide how we want to walk with the chaos. We can push against it—rebel, argue, blame, avoid—or lean into it and take a look around, seeing the next step with a dab of trust, a good serving of courage, and an openness to try something new, remembering that underneath the chaos, the order and calm—the balance—is always there. Balance will sometimes feel soothing, sometimes grateful, sometimes fun, sometimes exciting, but it is always available in the moment taken to connect with it.

Over this past year, I’ve had to work hard at practising what I preach. I have good self-care tools, yet the challenges were a full-time job for my nervous system. Each day I have used my breathing tools, allowed my body to release, or gone into nature for a coffee among the trees. During those moments I felt able to reconnect to my gratitude: I sensed a greater appreciation for the planet and found my heart more open to people. As the difficult bits became more intense, so too did the good bits, and through the good bits I found my gem in the chaos. Instead of just temporary calm, my daily practices created an experience of well-being, a pathway to the gift of life, and the ability to choose to connect to it regardless of the chaos.

Inherent in chaos theory is the idea that small changes can produce enormous effects, but ones that are only seen in hindsight. It is exciting to think that simple actions can create an impact beyond our imagination. In the same way, self-care tools can create change as we engage in simple, mindful routines. Their effect is additive and sometimes subtle, but as we make the art of mindful living a regular part of our day, the momentum can be surprising. These tools leave us feeling well in our body and clear in our minds; we will be more inspired, connected, and empowered in each moment. Creating a well world beyond stress is an idea I can get behind, and SOuL Wellbeing is inspired to do its part in making it happen.


Dr. Susan O’Leary

SOuL Wellbeing was formed during a creative moment when Susan was wandering the streets of Edinburgh while researching ways to expand on her years of work in wellness health care. Her 23 years of experience as a chiropractor and 30 years with lifestyle mentors in yoga, meditation, and positive mindsets, complement her passion to help people express inspired lives they love. She appreciates opportunities to facilitate positive change, working with individuals and groups to curate practical solutions for wellbeing. Outside her work, Susan can be found humbly learning the world of horses, lost in nature, and connecting with others through travel and culture.

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