From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Let’s learn  to deal with the unpredictable

I’ve never liked the title of the popular book series that refers to the reader as a Dummy. While the books themselves are useful, much of my life’s work is directed toward helping people improve their self-esteem and overcome any identification with the word dumb. That aside, it is easy to feel dumb when life’s tragedies strike, and lately, we have faced a lot of tragedies.  To combat the growing tide of challenges, this article is devoted to new ways of coping and preparing ourselves for the unpredictable.  

·        Appreciate each day that you survive. Recent television shows depict the art of survival and the awkwardness of reality. Whether you like these shows or not they do afford us the opportunity to observe people trying to cope with horrible situations. Flipping over to the news, we also observe people coping with horrible situations, only these are not actors. In my mind, every day that we survive is a day that hasn’t been all bad.

·        Re-examine your assumptions. Many events in recent years have warned us of the dangers of shortsightedness and arrogance. For example, at the turn of the millenium from 1999 to 2000, people were both concerned and terrified that the Y2K computer problems would literally turn back the hands of time on all of our technology. Fortunately, we survived that potential disaster. But in the year 2001, the events of 9/11 presented us with problems that have not so quickly gone away. In the days that followed the attack on the World Trade Center, a billboard was erected that proclaimed: “September 11: A day that will live on in infamy.” Optimist that I am, I hoped this would not be true. But recently, I missed my plane when I failed to arrive early enough at the airport. In my arrogance, I believed that 25 minutes would give me plenty of time to check my luggage and board my plane at our relatively small airport, just like it was in the good old days. When my pleading for mercy fell on deaf ears, I was asked not to blame either the airport or the airline since, after all, 9/11 was the real culprit.

·        Strive toward better teamwork in your family. The 2005 Hurricane season is another problem that won’t just go away. Earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and wars have become topics of discussion in every household around the world. Our children look to us for answers that we do not have, but ironically, our children and the children of the world are the answers. We can prepare for the unpredictable by improving the teamwork within our own families. Parents and children must begin to think of themselves as members of the same team. Our children are smart and they are growing stronger every day. Children need good parents and parents need their children. Both young and old deserve more respect. Improving your relationships is the best way I know of to prepare for the future.

·        Improve your Karma. In a recent visit to hurricane ravaged South Florida, President Bush remarked that the positive side of these crises was that it got neighbors talking and helping each other. Sadly, it does sometimes take a catastrophe to bring out the best in people. Perhaps we do need to practice being good neighbors on a more regular basis. I recommend that we all try to do something positive to help another person every day. It certainly couldn’t hurt!

Earlier today, I spoke with a lifelong friend of mine who is now 80 years old and living in Miami. Due to Hurricane Wilma, she and her family have been without electricity for a week. They are told it will be another 7-10 days before their power is restored. She described long lines of people waiting to enter dark grocery stores one at a time to buy non-perishable items. This year, we have been reminded over and over that life is fragile. I wonder what lessons we will learn from these disasters, and what lessons we will pass along to our children.

©Copyright, 2005, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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