I hope all of you and your families affected by Hurricane Irma are all safe with little to no damage, and if that’s not the case, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Irma taught me some valuable lessons. There are more than a few, but in this article I want to share with you 4 lessons that she taught me.
1) Worry: I’m sure many of you spent much time worrying about your family and loved ones, your safety, your rental properties, and much more. Personally, I probably took 10 years off my life with the amount of worry I experienced.
Shantideva, an 8th century monk said, “If a problem can be solved why worry, If a problem can’t be solved, then what use is it worrying?”
If you prepared as much as you could for Irma, then during the approach there was literally nothing to do except watch and pray. Restlessness ensues so we search for more ways to prepare in response to the endless scenarios playing in our heads. But in reality we are restless and anxious, not actually doing anything productive.
During times of chaos the best thing we can do for ourselves and loved ones is to manage stress, keep a positive hopeful attitude, and visualize the ideal outcome. And know that no matter what happens, you will get through it.
2) Instincts: When news of Irma hit the public, my girlfriend, a long time Floridian had panic in her eyes and said to me, “We have to get out of here”. I fought her on that idea but her instincts were sound. Because of my own fears, I spent my time looking around to see how others were preparing and as I learned, that was an unwise method. Although my girlfriend and I wrestled with the decision to stay or go, it was her conviction, her experience, and her instincts that ultimately led us to safety. I had to accept that I was wrong, and my instincts were distorted.
Sometimes we have to look at the facts, learn to see when our judgment is askew and not depend on the feelings inside of you or behaviors of others to determine your decisions. People panic, we panic and we think the adrenaline running through our veins is our gut telling us something it’s not, it's a biological mechanism with physical sensations along with it. Instincts are logical and wise, and can’t be found in the body while panic from fear is irrational, dangerous, and can be felt. Steve Jobs used to say he hated being wrong, but was happy to be wrong for a better idea.
3) Letting Go: Once all preparation is done, it’s time to let go. Most times we avoid thinking about the idea that everything could be wiped out, that we may not have a home left and all our belongings would be gone. Our family, pets and more may be separated from us at any time. But it feels different when it’s really happening. Just think there are people who are experiencing that right now. It is experiences like this that brings us down to earth, to the benchmark in which our hearts lie. Back to the warmth of family, community, love, and gratitude. That benchmark should always be your go-to home base.
We are reminded that all the trivial and petty things in life are dwarfed by love for your fellow humans well-being in time of crisis.
4) Gratitudes: What many experienced from this Hurricane is one of the most powerful ways to change internally. We are forced to experience a reality where the luxuries and comforts of yesterday are gone. One can’t simply think about what it would be like for weeks without electricity, or to lose a home, or other painful ways to be affected... but when you actually have to experience it, or when it’s extremely close to home, is when a true fundamental paradigm shift takes place; thus true feelings of gratitude are felt.
We quickly forget that the presence of a luxury is the absence of inconvenience. We look at what we have, and forget about how things were before this luxury. But we think we are entitled to certain things. Forgetting that sight is a luxury, breathing is a luxury, the sense of smell is a luxury, walking is a luxury, being a functional human being is a luxury and a gift. We forget that being able to walk eliminates having to live with the difficulties that are tied to being disabled. The luxury or walking gives us opportunity to do more, it’s our responsibility to be grateful for all the gifts we have in this life and to enjoy them with never ending gratitude and appreciation. If you see this as truth, you will never feel depressed or worry again.
Conclusion: This experience reminded me that if we live with the right perspective, there literally is no reason to ever be unhappy or worry. Being alive regardless of your condition is something to be grateful for, if being alive is your main focus of gratitude, then property damage, hurricanes, being wrong or right with instincts, and certainly letting go of attachments would be no issue. Release worry back into the void, let go of anything other than the acceptance of change, forget the labels of right and wrong, and develop the attitude of gratitude for every single aspect of your life...and most importantly, don’t wait another second to choose to live this way. Start today.