Being Prepared Doesn’t Mean Fixating

Two adults under a desk for an earthquake drill

I’ve mentioned a few times that I was born and raised in Southern California. If you grew up in California you may (likely did) go through earthquake drills in school. California residents are told to make sure that their water heaters are secured and to have an earthquake bag ready with emergency supplies. These are all things that people should do to prepare for a major earthquake.

You can do all of these things, but then completely stop thinking about earthquakes. You can be prepared without fixating on when there will inevitably be a large earthquake (because it is inevitable throughout the Pacific Rim).

I got to thinking about this recently while doing a meditation guided by George Mumford in which he was talking about not fixating on what could go wrong. Normally I try to stay in the meditation, but this idea insisted on having my attention so I paused the meditation, grabbed my journal and scribbled down some thoughts before returning to my practice.

There is a lot to worry about these days. A lot of things have gone wrong, a lot of tragedy has happened, and we’re all really stressed out because of it. Here’s the thing, though, we can be prepared, we can be cautious, we can even be vigilant, all without worrying.

COVID-19, in a way is like a major earthquake, except that you likely had a higher chance of getting and maybe passing along the virus in the past two years than you did of being in a major earthquake, even if you live in somewhere in the Pacific Rim. With COVID-19 you can be prepared (get vaccinated), be cautious (wear masks and limit your contacts), and vigilant (get tested if you’re symptomatic or are a close contact to someone who tested positive), without constantly worrying that you’re going to get it.

Driving a car is another example. Be prepared (wear a seatbelt and have insurance), be cautious (drive only as fast at conditions warrant), and be vigilant (watch out for other drivers who may be texting or doin other dangerous things). You probably don’t worry every time you get in a car, right?

Please do be prepared, cautious, and vigilant when it comes to all of these things and more, but don’t spend all your time worrying about what could happen in the future to the extent that you miss out on what is happening now, in this moment. Getting completely wound up about the potential won’t help you in an earthquake, will likely make you a very nervous driver (increasing your chance of overreacting and causing an accident) or cause other health related issues.

Do the things you need to do to stay safe, and then focus on the here and now. Don’t let worry steal the good moments you’re missing while you worry about what might happen in the future.

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