Life is full of ups and downs. They are what make it interesting, exciting, and fulfilling. In order to get to the high points—the victories, the triumphs, the loves—we all have to risk, and ultimately experience, the low points. And it’s in those low points that we truly learn what we are made of.
When we go through our lows—whatever their cause and however they manifest—it’s natural to want to get through them as quickly as possible, to snap out of it and pretend they never happened.
Not only does that not work—we can’t ignore unpleasant emotions any more than we can ignore a broken arm—it also denies us the opportunity to gain insights into what makes us tick and get to the heart of who we are.
When we think of home, we might think of the place we were born or the place we spent our childhood. For some, home might be where their extended family is. When they go to see their family, they’re going home. Some might think of their home in terms of their current life: where their spouse and children live. Some feel at home anywhere—they are able to bring their sense of home with them wherever they go.
When we don’t know the answer to this question, we can feel anxious or worried. We like to know what’s around the bend and be prepared for it. Circumstances can be especially difficult when there is a higher chance of something scary or tragic happening—like when we are faced with a serious illness, either in ourselves or in loved ones. But we can prepare ourselves for uncertainty and develop practices that help us cope.
It can be helpful to remind ourselves that nothing is certain. We never truly know the outcome of any circumstances or events, and the best thing we can do is develop a comfort with uncertainty and habits that calm us down and provide perspective.
Having a meaningful life involves caring deeply about our passions and perspectives. The causes we work toward and the effort we put in toward our goals can define who we are. These thoughts and actions are aligned with our values and consistent with our worldview, and it can become very hard to hear anything that goes against them.
When our causes or our work become part of our identity or the basis for how we interact with people, it can be all too easy to take ourselves too seriously and not be open-minded to others’ perspectives and opinions. We want everyone to agree with us and be supportive of what we are trying to achieve, but of course it doesn’t always work that way.
When we go through life with the expectation that everyone we come across should be as passionate as we are, care about the same things we care about, and be interested in everything we have to say, not only will we be disappointed, but we will also come across as arrogant or a know-it-all.
A crisis is a great opportunity to get to know ourselves better.
Some may aspire to great ideals, but when faced with a crisis, they revert to fear-driven behaviors, such as hoarding. It can be helpful to examine how we’re assessing the crisis, in terms of its potential impact both on us and on our communities. It’s also tremendously important to assess our own emotional journeys and thought processes when a crisis arises. We can feel worry, anxiety, and fear during a crisis, and those feelings can be overwhelming. They can drive us to engage in activities that we believe will give us some control over the situation. It takes honest and intense introspection and reflection to understand our feelings, how they drive us to certain behaviors, and how we might redirect those feelings into more constructive behaviors.