What’s your first reaction when a disaster strikes?  I imagine it’s to save your life.  It’s fascinating how we suddenly get super-clear about priorities when disaster looms. We’re suddenly willing to pay any price, financial or otherwise, to live for another day.

Yet what is the real message in disasters like Irma, the Mexico earthquake, massacres by white, male, terrorists, your house burning to the ground, or discovering stage 4 cancer?  What is the disaster trying to tell us?

Aside from our reordering priorities temporarily in order to survive the initial impact, how do you think disasters are a special gift that call us to change?

After Irma threatened my home, I realized in the moment that I felt totally detached from my belongings. My life was not being threatened, so I didn’t worry about physical survival.  Instead there was a chance that my roof would blow off and everything inside my home would become a water-soaked, muddy mess.

Irma showed me that the practice I had been using to set my priorities permanently was actually working! I felt good that I had some evidence of reaching a deeper, higher spiritual realm where my core identity did not depend on the stuff and activities around me. Irma also showed me that I had much more courage and ability to think clearly than I had imagined. All of these were true gifts that continue to influence me.

How about you?  Have you ever experienced what you define as a disaster: financial, relational, spiritual, medical, environmental?  What did you learn in that moment?

More important: what did you learn that has stayed with you, that has added to the building blocks of your character, that will now influence the way you live, the decisions you make, the lifestyle you choose, and the money you spend?

How has your experience made you more compassionate, more empathetic, more inclined to reach out to your fellow humans in a real and practical way to help them?

In what way have your relationships changed? Are they based on a deeper level of conscious sharing of life and spirit?

Are you less selfish, less materialistic, more inclined to listen, especially to opinions not your own?

In what ways are you more aware of others? Are you more inclined to forgo your constant phone-clicking and pay attention to real conversation with people who are in front of you?

Have you begun to form a philosophy for your life, a reason for your existence, a mission in which you will use your talents?

Disasters have a long-term message for all of us. Without reflecting on them in a positive way with practical outcomes they remain just sad memories of loss, pain, and victimhood.  Or could they be angels in disguise presenting life-changing goals that will make you an even better human being? 

© Copyright Michael Parise 2017

Portions excerpted from Michael’s book: Life Interrupted, Taking Charge After Everything Has Changed
Since 1979 Michael has worked with individuals and groups to take full advantage interruptions and changes to balance responsibilities, simplify their lives, and find greater productivity and peace.
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