Life can suck itself out of you just by dropping a big, old bombshell when you are least prepared for it.
Funny thing? No one -- not one single person -- escapes unscathed. We are all thrown for a loop when we get unexpected health news, we lose our jobs, our lovers or significant others leave us, or there is a sudden death in the family. Often, the situations we find ourselves in are results of choices we've made, other times, we find that we are at the mercy of forces beyond our control.
Much has been written about having a positive attitude in life, that the thoughts you think -- become the life you live.
I have developed the modus operandi of a realistic optimist. I don't think that just because I am a believer that anything can happen -- but I do feel that a realistic analysis of the situation combined with a willingness to try (almost) anything at least once -- will make my life more fulfilling. That is, I believe that being positive helps you reach your goals -- but you need to be realistic about what you can accomplish.
Attitude is especially important during those times when we're in crisis. It is how you react to the news, how you analyze its real effect on you, how you feel, and ultimately what you do with those feelings that separate people who are victims, those who are survivers, and those who I call "surthrivers."
Victims focus all their attention on what happened to them. They dwell on external causes and often use their situation as an excuse to avoid being present. What they don't realize is that most of the time, others' actions have nothing to do with them. By focusing on external causes to their misery, they give up the power to live their best lives.
Survivors are people who keep focused on getting through. They are determined to deal with the situation. Survivors are present because they need to return to a situation of normalcy, even if it is a "new" normal. Survivors know that they can't make everyone happy, they can only focus on making themselves happy given their situation.
When you think about who you most admire, are they victims? Are they survivors? Or are you most inspired by those who take tragedy and work with it to become bigger than their circumstances dictate?
"Surthrivers" are people who take what life hands them and not only deal with the situation, but find a way to thrive -- to grow stronger -- because of what they have survived. Surthrivers make their mark in the world by combining a realistic, hopeful attitude with one of graciousness and wonder. Things don't always go their way, but they play whatever hand they are given. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose. Their joy is derived from simply playing the game.
I am saddened to hear about all the people who have been forever affected by Hurricane Sandy. I know that many have lost homes, businesses and people they loved. It is a horrific situation and it will take many months for people to be able to wake up without feeling the heavy burden of the disaster.
Their will be many victims who will focus on everything they lost. They will be crushed because material things are missing from their lives.There will be many survivors -- those who will be sad but will turn that sadness into action. They will get through this and they will return to their lives, changed as they are. And there will be a few surthrivers -- those who will go on, inspired by the hell they lived through and will come out of this with a new way to help storm victims or save beaches. They will learn from this experience and grow from it.
No matter what you are going through, think of how you can use your pain to get you not only to the other side, but to a better you.