The recent spate of severe storms has wreaked havoc on many individuals’ lives. We have heard about the lost homes, possessions, precious memories and tragically, even lives.
In our book, Upside: How to Zig When Life Zags, we discuss why and how the ‘not- known’ is the new norm. In this case, the not-known may be changes to our climate that result in extreme weather and disasters. No one can predict for certain what the future may bring, but new patterns appear to be emerging and affecting our daily lives in unpredictable ways.
The question many people are asking themselves now is, “what can possibly be the upside of so much pain and suffering? As difficult as it may feel, we believe there are eventually new opportunities and choices as a part of the “rebirth and rebuilding” process.
Opportunity One: Prepare for the Future
One of the premises of our book is sustainability—being able to sustain personally and professionally over the long term. Being prepared for natural disasters may seem like a roll of the dice but you can choose to plan for the long-term eventuality of a crisis by choosing where and how to live. For example, if you know earthquakes are probable in some areas of the country, research which geographical areas are more vulnerable than others. Instead of a hillside home, choose something in a safer area such as the valley.
Take on a serious mentality that involves escape routes and survival plans. Many survivors of the tornado-hit areas donned bicycle helmets when they had minimal structural protection and escaped serious head injuries. The point is, don’t take anything for granted. Plan for the worst and you will be ahead of the storm.
Opportunity Two: Make a Lifestyle Change
Some of the recent news stories of those who survived a tornado commented that “they had worked their whole lives for their household belongings and those possessions were gone in a second.” It’s hard to imagine losing all of your earthly goods and wealth in a disaster, and yet, survivors of the recent tornadoes across the Southeast repeatedly emphasize the same point – when the storm is over, you search for your loved ones first, not necessarily your “stuff.”
When we face the storms of life, it is relationships that pull us through. And yet, day to day, it’s easy to lose focus and invest energy into possessions. When you live in a more simple way, there is less to lose materially. When you can detach yourself from your personal belongings, you can develop an inner strength that will carry you through many storms.
The upside of losing possessions is that you can still create a meaningful and happy life without a lot of stuff. Granted, it will be different from what you’ve done in the past –- and isn’t that the point? If you create a flexible lifestyle and are prepared, you can survive the next storm in your life.
Bonnie and Allison