Bing Dictionary says the definition of crisis is a time when something very important for the future happens or is decided. Ive also heard that the etymology of the word crisis is choice, or to choose.
Given this understanding, I think crisis presents opportunity for positive outcome. While life presents circumstances and events that lead us into crisis, our choice of reaction is our contribution to the experience.
Take the runaway shopping cart, for example. This crisis can be present in most parking lots. In fact, Id guess that most of us have witnessed the sight of a steel buggy seemingly on rails, destined to embed its unencumbered front edge into your freshly waxed car. Amid grasping the potential realities of this particular crisis, I think we often play a quick mental game of ready or not? with ourselves.
Am I ready to make a run for the cart? Do I take the wait and see approach? At that moment, albeit a brief moment, we have a choice of how to respond. The wait and see approach can be comfortable and actually present the least risk. We wont risk slipping on a patch of ice-melt-resistant crud while running across the lot, jamming a finger while catching the cart or twisting a knee while frantic scrambling. In fact, the cart may miss the car.
We can weigh the risks associated with prevention against potential outcomes of action. While our initial reaction can feel like a rush to action is needed, I think we actually pass through a moment of brief contemplation before that point. We can use this moment to figure out what response makes the most sense.
For some of us, a rattling metal cage wobbling atop plastic wheels toward our car is akin to the approach of the holiday season. Thoughts and feelings associated with pending seasonality can range from all out dread to visions of heroic envy (reference: the leg lamp in the film A Christmas Story). Make no mistake; the holidays present ground for crisis.
Remember, Im going with the idea that crisis presents opportunity for choice that might actually benefit us. Lets apply this notion to the coming weeks; when you can imagine telling yourself that youve seen this one before and its not likely to turn out well. Maybe Uncle Edgar will eat the last of everyones favorite mashed potatoes as a third helping, the plane might be delayed or something you say may be misunderstood. Lets face it, something is bound to present us with a crisis. So in this regard, practicing mindfulness in advance makes sense.
Making mindful choices amid crisis is the gift of the runaway shopping cart. For many of us, using wellness strategies helps minimize dings. Although its true the holidays are on the way, theres plenty of time to practice self-care and wellness. Even the speediest of all shopping carts isnt that fast. Enjoy the season, and stay in touch!
Mark White is director of quality for Axis Health System. Reach him at email@example.com or (970) 335-2217.