When it comes down to it, life is an exercise in putting together a multitude of components that are part of, or could be part of, our lives. We are constantly trying to piece together the right elements in the right combination to be happy, to make a living, to raise our families, and to become the people we want to be.
I’ve always thought of these as “blocks of life.” We can think of the fundamental blocks that make up our lives—family, job, friends, activities, and outlook—but when we think about what each of these is made of, we find that there are an enormous number of components and potential components that we might incorporate into our lives and many ways that we can organize them that would give our lives different emphases.
Do you find yourself worrying constantly and running through worst-case scenarios in your head, or are you able to remain calm, keep some perspective, and find ways to make a positive difference? As I’m writing this, the planet is facing its worst public health crisis in a hundred years. The Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19) is a newrespiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. As of this writing, 209 thousand people have been infected, and nine thousand people have died from the disease. It’s pretty scary. When faced with a crisis of this magnitude—one that has implications for our very lives and livelihoods—we enter uncharted territories. We face situations, choices, and challenges that we’ve never faced before. In some cases, we have to decide between our own and our families’ health and safety and the greater good. It’s during times like these that we really come to know ourselves and what we’re made of.
“I wish things could go back to the way they were…”How often have you experienced a life-changing event and wished you could go back to the way it was before? Do you wish that certain things would remain the way they are forever?There are a lot of reasons why people desire stability—they want their families to stay alive and stay healthy, they want to be comfortable financially, they want to be happy—we constantly take steps to give our lives a sense of permanence. We buy a house, save money, buy insurance, and in other ways try to guard the lives to which we’ve become accustomed.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Hmm . . . How unfortunate for the dog.This adage implies that as we become older, we become more set in our ways. We become less inclined to learn new things. And we become less likely to put ourselves in the position of being the “student.”Is it because we know more than most people? Is it because we’re afraid of things we might not be able to understand?Or is it because maybe we’re just a little bit arrogant? We think because we’re older that we’re wiser.It is true that as people get older, they pick up life experiences and learn a lot about many things. But it is also true that there will always be things that we can learn, even about those things we know very well.
Our world is filled with conflict—ideological conflicts, conflicts among countries, and honest disagreements between people.A lot of pain and suffering has resulted from conflicts, but is it the conflict itself that has caused the negative outcomes, or is it how the conflicts are handled?Conflict resolution has been studied and written about extensively, and there is a wide range of information available, but a glance through the news tells us that to many, winning conflicts is more important than resolving conflicts peacefully with lasting results. People will always disagree with each other. It’s one of the things that makes life interesting. If we all agreed all the time, think of how bland and boring life would be.Conflict is not inherently a negative thing, but it is often thought of as something to be avoided or quickly ended. However, conflict, if handled patiently and with an open mind, can help us to learn about each other and can ultimately lead to positive change. Unfortunately, people are often defensive about their opinions, feelings, and beliefs. This defensiveness can stem from associating our stance with a core value. In these instances, an honest disagreement can seem like a personal attack.