“How do you always seem so calm?” was what someone asked me a while ago. I could only reply that the answer was in the question itself. I usually “seem calm”. I may not necessarily “be calm” always. To paraphrase Dr. Banner/Hulk, “That’s my secret. I always appear calm.”. At the risk of sounding boastful, I can say that I’m a pro at (mostly) appearing calm even when I’m shitting bricks within. That comes from two factors – I can keep quiet for long periods of time with little or no expression on my face, which generally leads people to believe that I am at peace within. Secondly, in almost all areas of my life, I “expect things to go wrong”.
Those who know me will be surprised at the second statement. They would not expect an optimist to expect things to go wrong. Well, there is a reason why I put that phrase in quotes. When I say I expect things to go wrong, I do not mean that I worry that they will go wrong. It only means that I believe in preparing myself for a scenario where they will go wrong. Once I have done that analysis and prepared myself for a recovery (in case things do go wrong), I sit back and focus on the present again. That way, I only need to worry about the present and things that actually go kaput, and not make a nervous wreck of myself over an imagined doomsday.
So, does this principles apply to all areas of my life? Definitely. From money to people, and everything in between, I imagine what could go wrong, prepare myself for it, and then stop worrying about what could happen it things go south. If there is an important person in my life (including my parents), you can be sure I have imagined a scenario where they are no longer around (for whatever reason) and kind of toughened myself to face that situation. It is never a pleasant thing to do, given the kind of person I am, especially with people who matter to me, but it is infinitely better than losing sleep and peace of mind every night. Like I was telling my best friend today “Everyone suffers because of what happens. Why suffer over something that hasn’t even happened yet?”.
Of course, this is not something that I have been doing for a really long time. It is only in the last 5-6 years that I have learnt to do this. Like with all new ways of life, adopting it has not been easy. It has been painful at times, traumatic even. Merely accepting the fact/scenario that someone you have invested so much into (emotionally or practically) will just not be around one fine day can move you to tears, and I am not immune to that. I get shaken by that from time to time. I still do it, only because I don’t want to be uprooted if/when it actually happens. I know it will affect me, but I don’t want it to turn me inside out. What does help me is that I work in an industry where we have to expect things to go wrong and plan accordingly. That helps me get into the right mindset better than any motivational speech or book would.
By now, if you are thinking that all this preparation helps to insulate me and stay unaffected when things actually get messed up, you couldn’t be more wrong. Things have gone wrong in various areas from time to time, and I have shed more than a few tears. The reason why most of those around don’t know about it because the instances were few and far between. Also, I recovered from the impact rapidly. Things will go wrong in the future, and I will get affected, but I know that I will be in a better shape and rebound quickly as times go by.
Last but not the least – shit will keep happening. It is up to us how long we let it stink. 🙂