28 June 2011

This, Too, Shall Pass

What do we do when our worlds seem to turn upside-down?  In most of our lives, such changes are usually personal, caused by deaths and personal changes and tragedies, but in the world of today, the changes are affecting the entire world, and there seems to be little or nothing that we can do on a personal level to protect ourselves, our livings, or our lifestyles.  The changes are coming from the banks and the stock markets and the politicians with whom we really have no first-hand contact at all.  So in addition to the worries about our ability to continue to get by, we also can feel a sense of helplessness as our assets--which we've worked hard to build and maintain--dwindle into much smaller numbers, with little to no hope of recovery coming soon.

But it can be very helpful to remind ourselves that millions upon millions of people have made their ways through times that have been much worse than our current situations.  Yes, we are facing challenges and problems on levels that we've never seen before, but it's important that we not succumb to the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that threaten us perhaps even more than the realities of the situations themselves.  These feelings are the part of our lives that can cause us to treat our families and friends differently, that can cause us to fall into depression or despair, that can cause us to act in ways that we wouldn't act in during "better" times, perhaps even taking risks that we normally never would consider if we hadn't lost all that we've lost recently.

The experiences that others have passed through can remind us in very positive ways that this, too, shall pass.  Better times shall come again, come they in two weeks or two years.  Our goals should be simple--to modify our lives and our lifestyles in ways that will help us and our loved ones to pass through these times in ways that are as pleasant as possible.  We should be looking to minimize the potential damage to ourselves and to our financial situations as much as possible.  We should be thinking of ways that we can help others who are hit harder than we are by what's going on in the world.  And we should be doing our best to accept that most of what's going on in the world is simply out of our control, and that while we'd like to exercise control over "bigger picture" things like a roller-coaster stock market, trying to do so will simply drive us mad without providing us with any benefit at all.

It's not easy to do these things.  Most of us haven't really needed to before.  But if we remind ourselves and truly believe that "this, too, shall pass," then we can face the difficulties of the present with balance and with a positive perspective as we do our best to minimize the damage and maximize our potential benefits during very difficult times.  Millions of people have lived through much worse than we're going through now, and the factors that determine more than any others just how we get through such times are perspective and attitude.  If we can keep those healthy in ourselves, then we can find and make many positive moments in the midst of very difficult times.

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