Sitting in a hotel room in Washington, DC it was hard to watch the images of people fleeing a massive wildfire in Fort McMurray – a fire that destroyed thousands of homes and caused the largest natural disaster evacuation in Alberta’s history.
What made it a little easier was seeing the heartfelt response of Albertans pulling together to offer whatever assistance they could to evacuees. And as we always do in these situations, seeing first responders and fire fighters running toward danger to do jobs that would scare the pants off most of us.
They say that crisis brings out the best in people.
In challenging times we often see the best qualities in people rising to the surface:
We treat each other with an abundance of respect and dignity. We deeply appreciate what we have and what is most important. We think in terms of what’s best for the community. We are moved by stories describing acts of generosity and bravery.
That is until it eventually it wears off.
When the news cycle shifts, we return to our regular lives.
We become busy and distracted by the things that previously kept us busy and distracted.
The extra hand we were willing to offer isn’t as extended as it once was.
We become a little more me focused. We judge each other. We take things for granted.
We forget that for some people the challenges are just beginning or that fire fighters are still on the front line.
We especially don’t pay attention to the fact that there are many people every day who are enduring their own personal crisis that may not grab headlines but are still devastating in their own right.
Perhaps it’s human nature.
It’s certainly human practice.
I recall after 9-11, everyone vowed that we had changed, that we had become kinder, gentler people.
Seems to me that wore off too.
Does it have to?
I don’t think so.It doesn't have to take a tragedy or crisis to bring out the best in you. Click To Tweet
It doesn’t have to take a tragedy or crisis to bring out the best in you.
Remember – it’s in you already.
You don’t have to learn how to be kind or compassionate or courageous or resilient.
You just have to tap into it.
So how do we continue to bring out the best in ourselves and others in the midst of a busy and distractible life?
We have to practice it every day.
When you get up in the morning, before your feet have hit the floor, pause for a moment and do 2 things:
First practice gratitude.
Take a moment to remind yourself of the blessings in your life and give thanks.
Then think about the quality you want to embody as you go about your day.
Choose one – don’t think I’m going to be a nice person today. Be specific. Say it out loud:
Today I will practice ______________ in all of my encounters.
Maybe write it on a post it note.
Or set a reminder in your calendar.
I have no doubt that when the next crisis arises, people will once again demonstrate their humanity.
In the meantime, make a conscious choice to bring out the best of some part of yourself.
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