Coping with Disaster

The Manhattan skyline filled with smoke and debris as the towers of the World Trade Center collapsed is an image few of us will soon forget.

Feelings of shock, fear, anger and helplessness filled all of us. Americans were walking around with a dazed, hollow expression – unable to comprehend the enormity of what had happened. As human beings, we look for answers. Why did some live while others died? Why didn’t we see this coming? Why us? Often when terrible things happen to good and innocent people there simply are no answers.

We have to feel our pain, work through our grief, then accept what has happened. This is a good time for us to reflect on our own lives. We tend to think we’ve got 70 or 80 years on this planet, but in this dramatic example, it’s clear that we have no idea how long we have and little to no control over events. That can terrify you or it can wake you up.

Maybe it will do both.

How would you listen to music if you knew it would be the last time you could hear it? Would you eat a meal differently if you knew it was your last? Would you spend time talking with those you love rather than watching television if you knew it was your last night? We are living our lives as though we have forever, and as this terrible day has proved, we do not.

We are always getting ready to live, but never living. -Emerson

The terrorists who committed these acts did so to frighten us, to demoralize us, to steal the very zest for life that has become an American trademark. The best revenge many of us can take is to do the following:

Be grateful. Be grateful for all you have – your health, your family, people who love you and who you love, the tremendous beauty of the sky, a soft bed to sleep in, being an American. The list can go on and on. We are so fortunate in this country and we have so much. Be grateful for all the good things in your life you often take for granted.

Reach out. This is the perfect time to reach out to others. We are all in a state of shock right now – giving comfort to others is a great source of comfort for you too. Be a little kinder – hold the door for someone, give a warm smile to a stranger, give up a parking space with a wave. When thousands of our fellow citizens are killed, it makes us realize how very precious everyone is. Your kindness can change someone’s life, and it will definitely enrich yours.

Pursue Your Passion. These acts were not committed so a nation would wake up and her people would live passionately. They were committed so we would become afraid, so we would feel vulnerable and weak. Fear is what keeps us from pursuing our dreams. Use this tragedy as a wake-up call to figure out what brings you joy and pursue it relentlessly. Is it starting a business? Building a home? Starting a family? Taking a trip? Turn tragedy into triumph – live your life so that you become all you are capable of.

R. Wade Younger, MBA, CSP, CSM, TEFL – International Speaking & Business Consulting – The World’s Largest Collection of Life Skills for Kids