Prepare For Darkness
How to hold onto peace in times of chaos
Last week, we talked about the benefits of living like you’re already dead. This week, I want to talk about preparing for tragedy to befall you and those you love.
In many spiritual and self-help communities, people talk about “manifestation” and “the power of positive thinking.”
Likewise, many times when people are plagued with doubts and fear, well-meaning friends will say “you don’t have anything to worry about” or “nothing’s going to go wrong.”
Thinking positive isn’t a bad thing, and having faith is a very good thing when it fuels honorable acts of courage.
However, there are a few unshakeable facts in life:
Sometimes, change hurts
No matter how much you focus on thinking positive and manifesting good things in your life, bad things are going to happen to you, and they’ll sucker punch you if you don’t prepare:
You could get laid off at the beginning of a recession and the tail end of a pandemic
A person you love could be slain at the hands of another
A person you despise could receive the reward for your hard work
Your friend, neighbor, or coworker could steal from you
A natural disaster could destroy the biggest investment you’ve ever made (your house, your business, or both)
Your partner could leave you after cheating on you, embarrassing you, and breaking your heart
The list of things that could shipwreck your plans is endless. So how do we maintain an orderly mind in the face of chaos and pain?
Quote of the Week
“What is quite unlooked for is more crushing in its effect, and unexpectedness adds to the weight of a disaster . . . Rehearse them in your mind: exile, torture, war, shipwreck. All the terms of our human lot should be before our eyes.” — Seneca
The Power Of Negative Thinking
Several years ago, I realized that my father’s lifestyle could one day kill him.
Even worse, I realized that if he had a heart attack or stroke while driving with my mom in the car, I could lose both of my parents in a tragic accident.
The fear, pain, and anger of losing my parents washed over me and brought me deep into despair — even though it hadn’t happened yet.
Years later, on November 2, 2020, my mother called to tell me my father had suffered a stroke and tractor accident and was being airlifted to a hospital in Orlando.
The weeks after that moment required me to have laser-sharp focus. Bills needed to be paid. Life-and-death decisions needed to be made. My dad’s condition and trajectory changed moment by moment, and every update had a ripple effect on the future of my entire family.
For four months, I maintained an orderly mind in the face of total chaos — because I’d already faced the reality of my father’s death several years before.
The Stoics call this concept “premeditatio mallorum” which roughly translates to “the preponderance of evil.”
The preponderance of evil allows us to experience peace in times of disaster and gives us strength when others are weakened by pain and fear.
Most importantly, premeditatio mallorum allows us to align our lives with our values before tragedy catches us off guard. Then, in our hour of pain, we can channel honesty, temperance, courage, and love, instead of descending into darkness and fear.
Question of the Week
What will you do if your greatest fears become reality? Who will you be when chaos and disaster interrupt your comfort and plans?