aerial view of a highway

We are in a global test. The test is triggered by something we can’t see with the naked eye. Despite its size, it has created a worldwide panic. I am reminded of the quote, “Every man for himself said the elephant as he danced among the chickens.”

Our world is emotionally fragile and ridiculously self-centered. We assume the worst and freak out, unable to summon the courage to maintain poise.

What to do when the world melts down?

Be Grateful

If you were dead, experiencing life would not be an option. C.S. Lewis said, “Life is a challenge. What are the alternatives?” Be thankful that you have choices and don’t live in a completely propaganda-driven society. Hopefully, you have invested in building meaningful relationships and a support system that will encourage you to believe in a better future.

Stay Positive

Negative thinking will take you down a rabbit hole that is difficult to climb out of. Okay, sometimes things suck, but we must believe in a better tomorrow. The Marines have a saying – “Embrace the suck.” How can we appreciate the good times without the bad? Challenges are opportunities to grow our skills, think through options, make tough decisions, and, most importantly, take action.

Keep Moving

If things go wrong, most people quit. Do you know why? Because quitting is easy. We are wired to conserve energy, so if people are unable to visualize the return on their energy, they quit. We must keep moving forward. Yes, it is hard, and yes, it could take a while, but when things turn around, you will be way ahead of your peers. The rewards of continuing to move forward come first to those that stay in the game.

Consider the Source

When you take in news and information, consider the source. The news media is not out to inform you. The news is about creating fear so that you stay tuned in. Today, there are many ways to consume information. Follow the experts, listen to understand versus confirming your bias. We are naturally predisposed to hearing what we want and rejecting information not consistent with our beliefs. Confirmation bias is ignorance disguised as staying informed. Get your information only from experts, ideally with diverse backgrounds.

Have Perspective

Are you going to die? Seriously, if you are not going to die, why go into hysterics? Don’t panic. Work to protect those most vulnerable. What can you do to protect the people in your life that are most at risk? My intention is certainly not to trivialize a global pandemic but to offer perspective.

Focus on What You Can Control

If you can’t influence it, don’t worry about it. We paralyze ourselves when we obsess over things that are out of our control. For example, we can’t control what the government does, but we can control our response. Remember that the reality is we only control four things:
-Attitude: Yep, always on you.
-Input: What are you feeding your brain/mind?
-Response: You choose a response to every stimulus.
-Effort: How hard are you going to try?

Stay Calm

Breathe through your nose and into your diaphragm to calm your central nervous system. Remember the two questions that should be asked in every major decision:
-What is my desired outcome?
-What is the right thing to do?
If the answers to these questions are not in alignment, you will suffer. Guilt, remorse, anxiety, and other emotional distress will follow. Many people are suffering daily because they acted when the answers to those questions we not in alignment. Years later, they still suffer. The bottom line is that staying calm and maintaining an informed perspective is the best strategy for preserving your sanity.

 

Every meltdown and tragedy is an opportunity for growth. Will you panic? Will you consume every new piece of news to justify your fear and panic? The choice is yours. Embrace the chaos as an opportunity to practice steadying your nerves. The world is in a panic, but you realize that panic has zero return. Yes, be concerned, but let the concern be a catalyst for deliberate action. You are alive, so be grateful. You live in a society that allows you to choose your path so long as it harms nobody else. Believe in a better future. My mentor, Jim Rohn said, “You have got to think summer all winter.” Negativity is misery. Get up and do something. Don’t cower. People with weak minds are chewed up and spit out by meltdowns.

Stay informed but only from experts. The CDC has relevant information that will be relatively unbiased. However, they will still have a bias toward a desired outcome. All communication has a motive, and unfortunately, the news only wants you to consume more. They love a good meltdown.

Are you going to die, or just suffer a little? If you have the right mindset, suffering will make you better. Remember that the only way to build muscle is by stressing it. Build your mental muscle, and you will grow your ability to serve your family and community. If you can’t control something, stop worrying about it. You can only affect that which is in your circle of influence. Save your calories for action. Still your mind. Ready yourself for smart action.

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