After receiving some bad news yesterday, I spent a good amount of time contemplating a solution for the newly revealed situation. I wish I could say that I immediately sat down and followed a logical line of thinking, and therefore came up with a brilliant solution. To the contrary, I found myself ruminating over unlikely “what if” scenarios.
When I caught myself doing this, I stopped, and then asked myself what would be the WORST case scenario, and what is the true likelihood of it happening? I followed the “what ifs” to their logical conclusions and it didn’t take long for me to answer the question: there was practically zero probability of it happening.
I concluded that the worst case scenario (for this situation) would be to lose everything I owned. And even though I realized that the possibility of it happening is extremely low, I thought more about what it would mean if it actually happened. I then resolved that it wouldn’t be the worst thing to ever happen. I reflected upon this Buddhist quote:
“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” (Siddhārtha Gautama, the Buddha)
In other words, things could always be worse. There are many in the world who have experienced much worse than I ever will. In fact, I know someone who HAS experienced my worst case scenario . . . and they survived it.
Adversity, even in the worst case, can only take so much from us. Even in the worst case, there are still things for which to be thankful. Material things come and go, but heart, mind and soul are the foundations of who we are, and they are, in fact, untouchable. If we allow it, the discomfort created by adversity can help to build strength and resilience in the same way the body becomes stronger when challenged by the stress of physical training.
Comparatively, in the same way that we train the body to become stronger, the mind and spirit also evolve as we obtain knowledge. However, to become stronger, we have to complete the process by taking the additional step of APPLYING what we’ve learned.
I confess to being an avid reader. Over my lifetime, I have accumulated knowledge and inspiration from many sources. But can I exclaim that I am actually evolving? To read so much, and be inspired by so many passages and quotes, yet not be able to recall this inspiration and apply the lessons learned when actually faced with adversity, any perception of personal evolution is illusory. It is comparable to being a runner who diligently trains, then disregards everything learned once it comes time to run the race.
If ever faced with the worst case scenario, I hope to be able to reflect upon the words I’ve read, as well as remember the examples of strength and perseverance that I have witnessed. With regard to the quote above, I hope to be able to look in the mirror and see that I still have my body, mind and spirit. And even if my body has become weakened, I will still have my mind. And if my mind has faltered, I will still have my spirit.
expressed this exact sentiment in the song “Ain’t Got No/I Got Life.”
If the worst case scenario ever presents itself, this is the song I would love to be able to sing.
Have you ever worried yourself over a worst-case-scenario? Did you accurately assess the likelihood of it happening? What would it mean (realistically) if the worst case came to pass?