What Will You Do When Tragedy Comes?

Attitude is the single most decisive factor in determining the direction and quality of our lives.

by Judy Brizendine • More.com Member { View Profile }
Photograph: iStock

What if I told you I think I’ve discovered the keys to staying young, vibrant and content with your life — even when unexpected challenges arrive? Would you believe me? Well, let me build my case.

Immediately, one thing comes to mind when I think of a person who seems perpetually young.  She embraces change. Don’t you know certain people who are always ready to join in and get involved? Whether the invitation is to try a new restaurant; experiment with a current fashion trend; learn a new skill; take a trip; or whatever. You just know the answer will be a resounding ‘Yes!’ They don’t think twice about stepping outside of their comfort zone to explore new possibilities. 

Question:  If you’re on a trip and things just aren’t working out as planned, do you find yourself getting anxious, or can you roll with the punches? Are you able to adapt and go with an "adventure" scenario when your original plans fall apart?

I think we can all probably agree that life is constantly changing. Thankfully, we don’t know what is around the corner at any given time. Two parallel tracks run in our lives, and they represent good and bad things that happen. Both tracks run, all the time. Good things happen in the midst of bad, and vice versa. Sometimes it seems as though one track has gotten lost because events seem to happen in clusters, but actually elements of both happen all the time. Even when you face a devastating tragedy, you can look around and still identify blessings in your own life and all around you. You may have to look a bit deeper to see them when times are really difficult or painful, but gratitude is possible even then.

The next scenario is more serious. Something unexpected happens that not only changes your life right now, but also your future. What if the most important person in your life suddenly dies? Instantly, this event changes everything inside and around you. How do you go on when a tragedy of this magnitude happens? Can you adjust?

Have you guessed the keys? If you think the answer is resilience, flexibility, adapting to change and gratitude, you’re right!

Resilience enables you to get back up when you’ve been knocked down. You may fall, but you aren’t going to stay down.  You’re determined to get up and keep going.  You remember where you’re headed. Your life may take a different direction moving forward, but you’re willing to make the best of whatever presents itself. You’ve set your mind to be persistent.

Let’s face it. If tragedy hasn’t touched your life yet, you’ve been extremely fortunate. I don’t say this to scare or depress you, but tragedy and loss will touch your life sooner or later. I didn’t expect to become a widow at 47 years old. I know of three women whose husbands were taken from them while riding motorcycles to or from work. I’m sure you know people who have been fired; lost their homes or their fortunes; have loved ones who committed suicide or unexpectedly developed life-threatening illnesses; and on and on. 

Even though we wish our lives could be safe from tragedy, it is part of life. What will you do when tragedy comes? Will you act with strength and determination and ultimately, in time, accept and adapt to the changes? I’m a strong believer in the fact that your attitude is more important than almost anything in life. Attitude has been shown to be the single most decisive factor in determining the direction and quality of our lives, success or failure, happiness or dissatisfaction.  

Life is always pitching us curves. The curve balls can be something as minor as the movie you planned to see is sold out; or the restaurant you had your heart set on trying is booked solid; or the dress you wanted to buy is sold out in your size. Or the curve balls can be devastating. Can you learn to be flexible? Do you think you’ll be happier and more satisfied if you are flexible? Isn’t it worth a shot?

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