Of course all disaster scenarios in cinema require an individual who is going to snap and create carnage all around himself at precisely the height of danger. Usually the most annoying character in the group eventually becomes emotionally isolated and begins to melt down. Everyone who has ever watched a horror movie or thriller can usually recognize who the self centered character will be and what will be their motivation.
This is typical in Hollywood, but does it need to occur? Of course not. Well trained individuals usually rise above the fray, becoming heroes in the worst situations. Others panic and forget everything that they have ever learned. So I began to wonder how I would behave, since most disasters I have seen have lasted hours, not days.
I had been mulling this over for a while and thought that most people exhibit their instinctual behavior while they are behind the wheel. We tend to reveal a great deal about ourselves when we are confronted with a wee bit of traffic stress. You probably know whether or not you require work. Preparedness would mean that you would not be in that big a hurry, and would also mean that you have the time and patience to need provide others with some courtesy, right? Well if this doesn’t describe you, maybe you could begin practicing soothing yourself a bit. Practice in traffic. Imagine that you have all the time you need ( try to make it so – ie: leave early ) Then force yourself to enjoy the drive and focus on things that soothe your mind. Rush hour is even better for this exercise. The idea is to make the drive better for yourself and others.
Holidays are also a wonderful time to practice. Wait until your relatives start discussing politics in front of you at the table. Try smiling, laughing, and placing others attitudes and opinions into perspective. Remember, they may be completely wrong, but that doesn’t really matter too much now does it? You aren’t being tortured and are less likely to starve with a turkey or ham sitting right in front of you. Gain perspective and think about how much comfort you have. Next imagine your comfort is gone, and realize you are still going to want to be a comfort to those around you.
I had been thinking about this topic today, when I started listening to Dennis Prager on the American Conservative University podcast ( I highly recommend this podcast ) and he was discussing the obligation that we have to others to be happy. I thought it rather peculiar at first, but after listening to this discussion for a while it struck me that it really does make a lot of sense. We do so many other things out of courtesy for others, and neglect the most important thing we can do…to become a tolerable individual.
I am not recommending that we all run around singing Barney songs, but I do realize that if I am in a crisis…I want to be around positive thinking people who might be able to bring a little daylight to the darkness. I would like them to be serious minded, but that doesn’t mean miserable. Happiness when there isn’t a crisis means that you are less likely to melt down into a miserable heap of hostility when there is one. I for one would like to be able to provide comfort to those who might be frightened and maintain a positive and generous attitude. The golden rule, do unto others as you would have done to you. Apply that liberally and you can’t go wrong, no matter what is going on.