What To Do When the World Is On Fire

At the time of this writing, there is a coronavirus of pandemic proportions spreading across the world. This virus is infecting many and taking the lives of some, especially the vulnerable. The stock market has been in free fall, and when it hasn’t, it’s been more volatile than ever.

The airlines have had to adjust their scheduled flights to prevent losing more money as people stop traveling, a strategy that is unavailable to hotels and restaurants, who are also suffering the economic downturn as large events are canceled, and people stay home. It is also an election year here in the United States, making everything more political and more divisive.

Take Care of Yourself

The very first thing to do when the world is on fire is to take care of yourself, starting with your mental, emotional, and physical health. We have inborn nature that causes us to freeze, to take flight, or to fight when confronted with a threat.

You must protect your mental and emotional health to prevent freezing. While it’s essential to take in information so you are aware of what’s going on and what measures you might take, you harm yourself by reading and watching media outlets who sensationalize and politicize emergencies as a way to keep you clicking, watching, and listening. As a form of protection, don’t give your attention to people who prey on your fears.

Make sure you take time to meditate, pray, decompress, or journal doing what you can to control or reduce your stress level. When threats are real, fear and stress can make things worse, including making you more susceptible to illness. Get some exercise, even if it is just walking, and get a good night’s sleep, sleeping for a minimum of seven hours, eight if possible.

Take Care of Others

The reason you have to take care of yourself is that other people are going to need your help. The announcement you hear from flight attendants every time you fly provides the best advice: “Place your mask on your face before helping the person next to you.” One way you help others is by taking care of yourself, so they don’t have to take care of you.

There are going to be other people who need your help. It might be family or friends, neighbors, or strangers. We are at our best when we are faced with a common enemy. In times of great need, human beings helping others has always been what worked to sustain us and overcome our challenges, whether that challenge was a virus, a world war, a terrorist attack, or some other natural disaster.

Retain a Sense of Normalcy

There is no doubt that we will overcome the challenges we face, and there is no doubt that doing so will require helping each other, even if that means working to stop the spread of a virus and continuing to live our lives even when everything is on fire.

A large part of the challenge of a difficult time is the problem of maintaining some semblance of normalcy without ignoring genuine threats. There is no reason to allow the external threats that are outside of your control to distract you and prevent you from living your life. If you can still work, focus on your work, knowing that at some point, things will return to normal. Have dinner with your family, and spend time with the people you care about and who care about you.

Follow your regular routines as much as possible. Your routines provide a sense of normalcy, a sense of control when things are out of control. They also offer a sort of mooring, providing stability when things are unstable. You still have to cook dinner, do the laundry, take the dogs out, and pay your bills.

Know This Will End

There is an old Chinese story about an Emperor who wants to know what is always true, what is never changing, what endures.

The wise man who answers him says: “This, too, shall pass.” When things are good, this, too, will pass. When everything is on fire, this, also, will pass. At some point, we’ll return to normalcy.

Human beings are possessed with a sense of resourcefulness, the ability to find a way to move forward, even when there is no known path. We have unlimited creativity and the ability to solve what seems at the time to be intractable problems, problems beyond our existing skills. If you were to boil down the last 20,000 years of Homo sapiens, it would be the story of overcoming the obstacles placed in our way.

At some point, this period will end. We are going to climb out of this trench to enter a period where things are better. But only if we decide to by fighting through this time, and like our parents, our grandparents, and their grandparents, doing our part to bring the world back to order after a period of chaos.

Filed under: Mindset

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