We need every little catastrophe

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Last week sometime I was walking down a lively street in Queens with one of my favorite people, but I was barely there.

I had been stressing about a handful of looming problems, when an aggressive pigeon startled me from my funk. It jarred me lucid for just long enough to allow me to remember a peculiar, relevant fact about life:

Every problem I’ve ever had — every heart-twisting crisis, every fearsome responsibility, every breakdown of confidence or hope, everything I ever thought I couldn’t handle — was over. Except two or three things.

It’s always been like that. In my 31 years I’ve found myself periodically becoming consumed with some personal crisis surrounding my current job, relationship, financial situation or prospects. There have been a lot of those, and I was in the middle of one when the pigeon frightened me.

You know the kind. They take over the mind. Things seem to be flying off the rails, you feel sick with worry about how things will turn out, and you start to wish you were your cat, who only ever has to worry about whether he’d rather lay in the sun right now, or eat right now and sun himself later.

Some of these catastrophes dominated my mind for weeks of my life, some just made for an awful afternoon, a couple spoiled most of a few months.

I don’t know how many of these derailings there were exactly. Maybe a few hundred pretty bad ones, and a maybe thousand that only consumed me for a day or so. It’s a robust collection of awfulness, a lifetime’s-worth of catastrophes. If I’d documented them all with my Nikon the collection would make a dramatic photo album of personal tragedy. Award-winning. We all have one. 

All of them, at whatever age they happened, came with the feeling that my life is now seriously wounded. Each one contained enough suffering on its own to darken my vision of my whole life, to make me wish I was someone else.

And that afternoon as I was trying desperately to enjoy walking down the street, in a place I love with a person I love, virtually none of them were bothering me one bit.

My awful summer of fruitless job-searching had worked itself out years ago. My disastrous statistics exam in college, which had shaken me to pieces at the time, did not enter my mind. Being ditched by a girl X years ago, a moment in which life itself seemed to be collapsing, didn’t seem problematic.

What was consuming me that day were three active worries on a heap of thousands of dead ones — an acute financial issue, uncertainty about a particular relationship, and the prospect of going back to the workforce after a four-month hiatus.

Worries writhe in the head like mutant plants, splitting into other worries, obscuring the light, choking wisdom. They germinate into a wall of negative thoughts, an imagined landscape of dire scenarios that makes you think that’s what your life is from now on. Dire and unworkable.

It’s amazing how good we think we are at predicting the future when we’re predicting a gloomy one. From within a catastrophe, the easy times seem to be over, at least for now, maybe forever. The bigger ones seem to be so poised to kill you that you forget that not one of them ever has, and that at any given time all but a few of them are dead.

The human mind, most of the time, is pretty childish. I want this. I want to get away from that. I don’t want to lose this. I am afraid that will happen.

We have flashes of wisdom, of restraint and acceptance. But mostly our minds are piloting our lives with very simple instructions and beliefs. Get more of what you want, get less of what you don’t want. Stuff I want is good, stuff I don’t want is bad.

Life gives us lots of what we don’t want. Maybe more of it than it does the other category. Worrisome developments descend on our consciousness as emotions — big, unweildy thoughts that take over parts of our body as they settle in. They tighten us at the solar plexus, around the mouth, in the eyelids. They can flush the skin, raise the body temperature, pull up the stomach.

The body responds to fearful thoughts as if it’s expecting physical danger. Wisdom seems to leave the room at this point, like experienced bargoers do when the younger patrons are starting to get rowdy and sloppy. And so the reactive part of the mind is left alone to assess things, which it only ever does with panic and shouting. It runs down the hall pulling alarms. Things are real bad! Oh God! This should never have happened!

Wisdom comes back when only you stop freaking out. It just can’t get to work on a panicked mind. Catastrophes push wisdom away when they descend on your life. The catastrophe, after all, isn’t a situation, it’s an emotional phenomenon. The same situation can yield two completely different experiences, depending whether you roll with the catastrophe response or not.

I have a hard time realizing it while I’m in the middle of one, but I need every little catastrophe I’ve had. The present moment is always the sum of everything that happened before now. Without every one of those catastrophes, I couldn’t be here. Each one looked like doom at the time, yet so few have any pull on my mind right now.

When looked at on the scale of your whole life, the typical problem is a solved one. Unresolved catastrophes are a rare exception when you consider how many there have been and how few have any meaning today.

It’s always been that way — every single disaster has inevitably given up its emotional hold, except that thin leading edge consisting of the two or three things that are really bothering you right now. And they’ll give way to something else soon too.

So maybe my issues-du-jour shouldn’t bother me that much, knowing that it’s not me but my problems themselves that are condemned. They’re doomed to be left behind like all their dead brothers.

Reacting to dilemmas with a sense of doom is highly conditioned for a lot of us though, so the trick is to recognize when it’s happening and remember that catastrophes are emotional states, not the situations themselves. That feeling of hitting a what I see as a roadblock usually makes me do all the things that make it worse: get angry, blame others, wish for deus ex machina to save me.

What I really should be doing is making sure I keep up the pace. I should walk into an unfolding catastrophe with the same sense of positive expectation as when I walk into a pleasant development. I’ve been doing this with smaller dilemmas and it’s amazing how it works. The dilemma itself — the uncertainty, the possibility of pain or cost, the scenario itself — doesn’t disappear right away, but its emotional status as a “problem” often vaporizes the moment I decide I’m not going to fret about it.

Before someone says it, yes Churchill make an overly famous remark about carrying yourself through ugly times: “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” But it’s a little more than that. You have to keep going anyway, no matter how upset you get. The clock will make you do something eventually. What’s crucial, as you stroll through hell, is how you walk. Posture, speed, whether your eyes are on your shoes or on the horizon — this is what makes living disasters into dead ones fast.

On the other side of every catastrophe is the good part of life. This is a perpetual truth. Disasters all lead eventually to pleasures, new and wonderful people, and satisfied feelings about yourself, and so we might as well recognize that to walk into an unfolding catastrophe is ultimately the same as walking into the good times beyond it. Seizing up, wishing and blaming only swells and prolongs the emotional storm surrounding the situation, and the emotional part is the only reason problems are so painful.

You are always walking into the rest of life, no matter what you do, and after all those thousands of worry-sessions about making things go exactly right, it’s a person’s gait that determines his quality of life, not what he’s currently walking through.

Yes, every one of my disasters were necessary to get me here, and here is still a remarkably advantageous place, given all the world-ending disasters that have happened to me. I have the good things I have because of all those problems, not in spite of them. There are no real roadblocks except (maybe) death, and at any time the only thing to do is to go do the next thing.

That’s simple enough to understand, but it still leaves wide open the question of how we will walk into the rest of our lives — whether we’re tentative with our steps, or whether we refuse to step at all.

The doom emotion just doesn’t make sense. There is no real doom in everyday life. None of your catastrophes have ruined you. They have made you. If you’re like me, when you see things going wrong, you want to slow down the pace. You don’t want to move forward because you don’t want any more disaster.

But disasters are made of paper. You make a decision or two, then walk in to them like you would a harmless corner store, and soon they’re behind you, on the enormous pile of dead and harmless disasters that once had you worried sick.

The sky has fallen a thousand times already.

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Photo by Aussiegal

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{ 66 Comments }

Joel Zaslofsky - Enlightened Resource Management April 16, 2012 at 10:54 am

Hi David,
Well this post resonated with me but really, most of what you write does. You write in a way that conjures up some vivid imagery but seem to find a way to bring it back to the practical and actionable at the end.

My sky was falling this morning but this too shall pass. I’m looking forward to the work related crisis in my life being over so I can start the next one on the path to the dustbin of my personal history. But hey, if I were to pick the kinds of crises I’ve had in my 32 years they would look pretty damn similar to the ones that have actually occurred. I’m a lucky dude.

Thanks for all this awesomeness on Raptitude!

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David April 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm

>if I were to pick the kinds of crises I’ve had in my 32 years they would look pretty damn similar to the ones that have actually occurred. I’m a lucky dude.

For sure, me too. There’s a saying “We all have a bag of hammers, and this is the one I got.” I have always known that if I could trade for a random one I definitely would keep mine.

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Ethan April 16, 2012 at 10:57 am

You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can always control how you react to it. Be consumed with stress and anxiety or roll with the punches and rise to meet the challenge. Great article as always, have a great day :)

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Nick April 16, 2012 at 11:08 am

This was perfectly timed for me, I’m in the middle of a catastrophe or two myself. This helped me remember to not take them too seriously. I won’t worry about them so much now that I’m centered again, and now I feel like they will be much easier to resolve than I feared. You are absolutely right when you sat that the trick is remembering to view your problems in this light. In fact, a lot of the wisdom in your posts is helpful if you remember it in the right situation. What do you do to help yourself stay aware throughout the day?

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David April 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm

It’s funny, almost everyone who has responded is saying “Hey look at that, I’m in the middle of a catastrophe right now.” Seems to be normal to have a few at any time.

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yliharma April 16, 2012 at 11:19 am

This is perfect for me, I’m prone to catastrophism :D
Also I’ve just watched this TED talk and I think it fits well with your post: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html it made me think a lot…

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David April 18, 2012 at 6:56 am

This was really interesting. Definitely worth the watch.

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JennTheGamerMom April 16, 2012 at 11:22 am

Amen!

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tpsychnurse April 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Normally an optimistic lady who sees gifts hidden in seeming disasters, I seem to be almost paralyzed with sadness since the recent, very sudden and unexpected death of my husband of 37 years. Longing to figure out how to push through this one. ~ Thank you, David for your insights. Your writings inspire me.

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Steph in Berkeley April 17, 2012 at 4:04 am

Fellow Raptitude-iner, I felt compelled to reply regarding your recent dear loss.

Loss is more than another catastrophe; it’s never forgotten and shouldn’t be pushed through, I don’t think. It must be felt, the love, memories, the pain and anger, all of the exchanges that shaped you both, –these once reflected in his laughter and his hands, and they’ll always be a part of you. You’ll miss his warm eyes reflecting all of your shared paths. But there are surprising new paths to be tried and played about with, when you’re ready to explore again…

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tpsychnurse April 17, 2012 at 6:11 am

Your words are very comforting. I am trying to hold on. Thank you for your kind response, Steph.

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Susie April 18, 2012 at 1:23 am

When I find myself in a worrisome state about anything I remind myself that ‘this too shall pass’ and before you know it everything has changed for the better because my attiude has. Hope that helps in some way.

David April 18, 2012 at 6:59 am

Steph is right. I think it’s important to clarify that I don’t mean everything that happens eventually disappears or that your life eventually returns to the way it was. In fact, it never can be quite like it was, after any event, big or small. But that’s just the point. It is always moving to something else. Whatever you feel is always leaving you.

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michi April 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Ahhh, brilliant and right to the point. Inspirational and always!

I used to climb a lot of trees and somehow get into silly spots. “How do you know you’ll get down?” my worried, terrestrial companion would ask. “Because I’ve gotten down from every tree so far.”

Every now and then I think to myself: “I am dry, on level ground, neither too hot nor too cold.” There have been times when I’d spent so long soaked through with rain that I wondered if I’d ever not be wet again. Of course: yes.

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Karen April 16, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Thanks David, I personally found that by learning mindfulness recently, everything you’ve said. Its my way of keeping my mind as a tool not a tyrant. Co-incidentally the chap who brought it into Medicine from the East calls it Full Catastrophe Living!!!

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David April 16, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Yes, Jon Kabat-Zinn is one of my favorite authors, and Full Catastrophe Living is great.

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Duška April 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Great blog David, it’s true that it’s not the problems that seem to give as grief but how we internalize and interpret them that makes them seem disastrous.
I really like your reference to all ‘the dead catastrophes’ that are no longer relevant and scary…they are dead, gone and so will be the present ones if we face them without panic and fear…they are actually our best teachers.
Really great blog David, you are very insightful, intelligent and wise. Wisdom is a great gift and you have it, keep up the good work.
Best!

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Jeff April 16, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Nice blog David. Do you have any tips/tools that provide a way of keeping this perspective when a HUGE catastrophe hangs above us?

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David April 18, 2012 at 7:03 am

It helps me to think of all the huge catastrophes that different human beings have experienced throughout history. Pain and disaster is a necessary feature of human life. So many millions of catastrophes have been lived through and learned from by your fellow humans. Everything you can imagine has descended on someone else already.

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Jeff April 22, 2012 at 5:59 am

Wow… I hesitated to ask the question as I felt like I was putting you on the spot… What a great reply!!!

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Scott April 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm

This was perfectly timed for me. Thanks for this, an excellent article as always!

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Mel April 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm

You are right about several points
… That we won’t be who we are today if it wasn’t for everything, for better or worse
… There is no such thing as a good thing or a bad thing, just events and the way we feel about them and what we decide to do about them.

I would like to contribute one lesson I fortunately learned many years ago, which is that YOU yourself control how you feel. Often we give other people that control… “my boss made me mad …” “she upset me” “the cloudy day got me down” and so on. I don’t let people made me mad, frighten or negative anymore than a short while anymore. After much practice, I wrestled that control back from them and decide that I will have a good day and I will not be hurt by the petty comment someone made.

Although to get to this stage, work also has to also be done on personal self esteem to know that you are indeed above the petty comment and incidence in ones ability to do work after one gets laid off or a boss who feels the need to belittle you to assert their power of authority over others when they themselves have none internally.

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David April 18, 2012 at 7:06 am

I would say we aren’t quite capable of controlling how we feel. The human mind and body are quite reflexive, and you can’t necessarily stop a feeling from coming on.

But we are always left with the responsibility for the feelings that arise in us, and there is a lot we can do to keep those feelings from getting worse or taking us over, like you’ve illustrated here.

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Avril April 16, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Hi David.. Thank you for the inspiration and motivation you have shared and I am sure this can even help people to be inspired..

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Jane April 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm

When rubbish things happen to me I’d not describe any as catastrophic. It seems too dramatic for my life. I think of tsunamis as catastrophes. Maybe it’s a good thing and gives me some perspective? Or maybe it’s just semantics?

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David April 18, 2012 at 7:09 am

I use the word catastrophe because it’s obviously an overstatement for all the little bothers and dilemmas that happen to us. Yet we still tend to blow them up into worries that consume out entire consciousness for the short time they are “alive.”

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Elexandra Harris April 17, 2012 at 12:37 am

You know, moving is easy if you start accepting things. What happened in the past is done. Look ahead in your future with optimism. Just take it all easy. Don’t focus on things that worries you. It will really affect you!

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kitschculture April 17, 2012 at 2:15 am

Maybe I’m just a cynic, but my immediate reaction to reading this piece was how the same idea might look upside down. We could just as easily see our current friendships as fragile and our current hobbies as fleeting. Except those 2 or 3 things/people that stick with us, we are extremely fickle and one might wonder if we should even waste time on them at all.

Sometimes I do genuinely think from this perspective and try to look forward, but I think what truly works for me is understanding the levity of the situation in the greater context yet focusing as much as I can on the happy moments/hardships. While they may be fleeting, they are as real as anything we have and by simply moving on to the next thing I think we’re often doing ourselves a disservice in not trying to understand what the present is.

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David April 18, 2012 at 7:12 am

Yes, they are all fleeting. Everything ends. But why does something need to be permanent in order for you to enjoy it? From birth to death all we have are states of mind. It makes sense to spend as much of that in an enjoyable state of mind as possible.

If time can be “wasted” at all then that means that there must be a way to spend time well. I think dwelling less on thinking about scary scenarios is an improvement in the way we spend our moments.

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Seb April 17, 2012 at 2:32 am

David – you have no idea how much I needed this particular wisdom this morning. It’s the most timely gift ever and has given me the strength and resolve to fight on through today. Thank you!

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DiscoveredJoys April 17, 2012 at 4:01 am

Yes, I’ve had consuming worries too. A trick that works for me is to think ‘Hell, I could just walk away, abandon my responsibilities, and live as a casual worker or tramp.”

Now we all know that such a life would have its own problems, but the very fact that there is always an alternative, an escape, helps me realise that I don’t have to be committed to my worries. When I think my worries are ‘disposable’ I’m halfway to getting them in perspective – and when they are not all consuming there is enough space to sort them out.

Nowadays I deliberately smile (whether I feel happy or not) when these events rear their ugly heads. That helps too.

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Steph in Berkeley April 17, 2012 at 4:13 am

Reminds me of one of my favourite quotes:

I sing not because I’m happy. I’m happy because I sing.
-William James

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Steph in Berkeley April 17, 2012 at 4:09 am

inspiring. thought-provoking. intimate. helpful. emotion-giving words.

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Vilx- April 17, 2012 at 7:50 am

I wonder about one thing – would the world be better off if people had no emotions? Just cool, logical minds?

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Max April 17, 2012 at 9:26 am

While I agree with the spirit of this piece, I don’t know that this optimistic attitude toward catastrophe is always warranted. It’s certainly true that much suffering is a matter of perspective, but I think it’s dangerous to claim that all suffering leads to “the good part of life.” Your position echoes that of the Young Hegelians, who felt that the shackles of oppression could only be overcome by a change in understanding. But this attitude obscures the very real need to alter our objective circumstances. I know it wasn’t your implication, but your piece seems to advocate for patience alone.

Again, I wholeheartedly agree that a situation is what we make of it. But not all situations lead to positive outcomes; it takes more than determination and calm to solve our most perilous problems.

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Tom K April 17, 2012 at 10:59 am

“…The present moment is always the sum of everything that happened before now….” Are you sure? Give it more thought…

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Liz April 17, 2012 at 11:01 am

I always stop by here in your site, and I like reading your informative post. Thanks for sharing.

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Fiona April 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm

A book I have often circled back to on this is “How to stop worrying and start living” – Dale Carnegie. I like it because it was written before self-help was popularized and is very pragmatic in its approach to dealing with worrisome situations. For me, it’s not about having a particularly good or bad attitude, but having a realistic sense of what the likely outcomes are and knowing your plan to deal with them. I also have a quote on my monitor that I see everyday: “No problem of the past was ever worth worrying about.” it’s true! – even if it was a bad situation/outcome.

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Joy April 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm

So, much wisdom in this reflection…thank you, David!
I *love* this: “to walk into an unfolding catastrophe is ultimately the same as walking into the good times beyond it”…removes potential fear and allows one to embrace infinite possibility. Very heartening and wise perspective.

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anonymous julie April 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm

My reflections last night parallel yours, so it was good to read this post. I was realizing that my new paradigm of “normal” consists of going through life with a few things undone or falling apart (or seeming like they are), and that now that I’ve realized (sometimes) that I’m not unlimited in what I can accomplish in a day, such a paradigm is eminently survivable – even enjoyable. Most things aren’t such an emergency that I have to fix them right now.

To get to this point I had to spend several months with a series of legitimate traumas and catastrophes – trying to keep my chin up while exhausted, uncertain, or just numb. I don’t recommend it, but spending so much time beyond my breaking point has redefined how I look at the rest of life.

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Nitya April 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Really beautifully articulated piece of writing, once again. I especially liked the paragraph beginning ,”worries writhe in the head like mutant plants….”
Everyone could relate to the summation of your experience.
As one commenter expressed, insightful & intelligent ! And another, beautiful imagery. I couldn’t agree more.

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Rebecca April 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Once again you have written what I have said so many times to myself and other’s who have been facing what seems like catastrophe or some calamity.
Thank you for your beautiful and sincere writing style. I know I needed to read this message again today and shall pass it on. You are a gem!

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nrhatch April 17, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Once again, you’ve hit the nail soundly with your hammer!

How we relate to the issue IS the issue. Be well.

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Kathrryn April 17, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Hi David.. Thanks for your awesome post here and I can see that always a lot of people are interested with your post all the time..

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Joy Lily April 17, 2012 at 11:58 pm

David, thank you for this nice article. I like reading your articles. About life. And your articles have being a great motivation to me. Just resonates with daily life’s happenings. The challenge is to turn negative thoughts, panic to positive thinking. Cheers. Joy Lily

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Glones April 18, 2012 at 3:39 am

Two thumbs up for this great post, I know that most of us here, well impress with this wonderful ideas… I do love to pin it…

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Lorraine April 18, 2012 at 6:38 am

I so absolutely needed to read this right now. I have been so consumed by some really crappy stuff lately (a bad injury, multiple back surgeries, the loss of my career, doctor and lawyer stupidity, crises with my kids) that it has been hard to focus on anything but this pit of despair. And yet while all of this stupidity has been going on, I remet and married a high school friend who turned out to be my soulmate. I am going back to graduate school. My kids are doing well in spite of my agonies over them. I have been letting my injury (and the associated stupidity) define me, and it has not been good. Thank you for reminding me that it is about perspective and that this will all turn out how it will regardless of whether I agonize over it or not. One foot in front of the other and repeat – but now with my head up until I come out the other side. Thanks again.

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Michele Kendzie April 18, 2012 at 7:49 am

I have felt this way — that our attitude is an important factor in how we manage ordeals — for a long time. Do you think children can understand this or does it require more years of life experiences? I’ve tried to explain to my oldest daughter (10) that she can’t just blame other people for how she feels, and complain and expect them to change to suit her. She can decide how she’s going to react and what SHE will do. But she doesn’t seem quite able to do that yet. So maybe she needs to get through more ordeals and figure this out herself. We learn more by doing than by being told.

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Liz April 18, 2012 at 8:24 am

I like it because it was written before self-help was popularized and is very pragmatic in its approach to dealing with worrisome situations. Great post.

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Colleen April 18, 2012 at 10:16 am

When I was younger, I catastrophized every little problem (from a flat tire to burnt rolls on Thanksgiving) and was anxious and unhappy most of the time. In between catastrophes, I was worrying about what might be coming next. Then I started asking myself questions upon the arrival of such disasters: “Did anyone die? Was there bloodshed?” If the answer was “no,” and it always was, I told myself that I could deal with it because I had survived hundreds of other similar situations without permanent repercussions. Thus, I learned not to “sweat the small stuff.” My new attitude carried me through many problems that were bigger than small. I also learned not to anticipate disaster, not to suffer prematurely or unnecessarily, because there would be enough legitimate pain if and when the time came. And all that was good, at least until last year, when once again I asked my standard question, “Did anyone die?” And the answer was “Yes, my dad, my hero died, and yes, my mother died.” And my other question, “Was there bloodshed?” And the answer came: “Yes, my beloved son-in-law, just 22 years old, just had his legs and genitals torn away by a so called Improvised Explosive Device buried in the bacteria and fungus riddled Afghan dirt.” Made me wish I was still a Christian, so I could start quoting Bible Verses. “All things work together for good to them that love the Lord . . .” Everything happens for a reason, right? What total bull crap! Some catastrophes don’t die – they live on in the totality of their life altering nature – in the brave face my son-in-law puts on along with his prosthetics, and the smile that never quite reaches his eyes, in my beautiful young daughter’s weary face and her thinly disguised pain, and in the guilt I feel every time her dad and I make love, because she and her husband can’t anymore. I found out that learning to deal with the small-medium catastrophes that eventually pass away doesn’t help prepare me for the there’s-no-fixing-this big ones. When the circumstances don’t change, then we must change. It’s all about Adaptability, and that’s what I’m trying so hard to figure out now. Thanks for your post – you always make me think.

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Lea April 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm

God, this was amazing! Just what I needed to hear right now.
Thank you for being so insightful and honest.

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Carmen April 20, 2012 at 3:43 am

Maybe she needs to get through more ordeals and figure this out herself. Thanks for sharing these influential blog.

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Charissa April 20, 2012 at 8:08 am

For me, it’s not about having a particularly good or bad attitude, but having a realistic sense of what the likely outcomes are and knowing your plan to deal with them.

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Winsor Soriano April 20, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Very true and I can personally relate. How do you overcome some stressors in life like financial crisis? How do you keep yourself optimistic despite the odds? Thanks for sharing this inspirational post.

-Winsor

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Walker McKay April 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Thanks. Your post is very empowering. It is easy to get lost in the “moment” of a crisis, even if the “moment” lasts for months… Life is dramatic and exciting, crushing and thrilling, boring and mundane. All of those, all the time. How we deal with those things makes all the difference. It’s easy to put other’s problems in perspective, but extremely difficult for me to put my own there sometimes…

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Selina April 22, 2012 at 1:32 am

Such an insightful post – I think that each person’s problems can be turned into their own personal ‘catastrophe’, it really is all relative to each person’s mindset.

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Thomas April 24, 2012 at 4:43 am

i know how it feels like to never be in the present and be so stressed out you just think of the next terrible assignment you have in your daily life absolutely horrible i tried something out called minfulness which helped me alot and made me more self concious

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Kathryn April 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Each and everyone of us can have a catastrophe in life and its up to us how we handle and give solution to it..

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Kazsandra April 24, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Problems are always around and we have to accept it that no matter what we do, it will always be included in our life.. Just be happy always and find solutions to them..

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Brad April 25, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Hi David. A very fitting article for the primary event of my day, which is sadly, spilling a cup of coffee all over my desk. I came from the coffee machine and noticed a small drip run over my finger. I thought about how spilled coffee is particularly ugly and undesirable to me. I sat down at my desk and dumped the whole freaking thing across the workstation! What a kick in the pants. I got it cleaned up pretty quickly without getting too pissed off about what I did, but it was afterwards, trying to navigate through the last puddles of brown sludge clinging to my keyboard and monitor stands, that I began to become rather irritated about what happened. But there was a stronger sense of gratitude that I could have been so much worse. I could have spilled it on some important equipment, some vital documents, or on my crotch. After it was all cleaned up I felt pretty happy. I was so grateful to get back to my mundane little spreadsheets and lists that I only worked on previously only with grudging resentment. I realized that I had to snap out of it and just enjoy it, because it’s entirely possible. That’s the value I see in catastrophes.

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Jullian Gaistrov April 26, 2012 at 8:39 am

This was mind boggling. I needed quite a lot of time to actually get what you were trying to convey. I thought you did a wonderful job here.
Problems will always be there and we just need to find the perfect solution.

-Jullian

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Justin April 27, 2012 at 2:43 pm

David,

I just came across your site and am digging it man! I’m about to start browsing.

stay up!

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nickyO April 28, 2012 at 7:43 am

Apocalypse of the mind
the sky has fallen a thousand times
from sun to rain to sun to rain
all weather forecasts are the same
eventually there will come a change.

(Love that last line of yours…as hopefully you can tell)

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Yramkeet February 6, 2013 at 5:10 am

Now I know why I think disgruntled birds are admirable.

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April Holle August 7, 2013 at 4:20 am

David – Thanks for this post, helping me through some worry right now. :) especially loved this part:

So maybe my issues-du-jour shouldn’t bother me that much, knowing that it’s not me but my problems themselves that are condemned. They’re doomed to be left behind like all their dead brothers.

Thank you for doing what you do. :)

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rick December 10, 2013 at 2:36 pm

“Disasters all lead eventually to pleasures, new and wonderful people, and satisfied feelings about yourself,” what? LOL. NO. Some great insight and advice here, but blanket statements like this really irk me.

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