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Your friend dies.
You suddenly become very ill.
You lost your wallet and keys.
All terrible events in their own right.
But what do you actually do when the unexpected happens?
What do you do when your world is hit with a missile from the unknown?
It all comes down to mindset.
One particular exercise can help you improve your mindset and your mental resiliency.
Here's what you need to know based on what's worked for me.
Preparing for the Worst With Premeditatio Malorum
There is an exercise that the ancient Stoics came up with that sounds strange--but really works.
It's called Premeditatio Malorum, or the pre-meditation of evils.
The idea is that you spend some time at the beginning of the day thinking about all the bad things that could happen to you.
Right now, you might be thinking...
Well, that sounds absolutely awful. And dumb.
Why would I do that?
You do it because bad things happen all the time.
And thinking about them doesn't make them more likely to happen--it makes you more prepared if they do happen.
Using the Thinking Skill to Prepare Yourself
As you prepare for your day, take 2-3 minutes to go through the exercise of Premeditatio Malorum
- Pick a quiet place to do your thinking
- Make a mental list of 5 things that could go wrong today
- For instance, say, "I know someone will lose their temper today. I know someone will say something hurtful that they likely don't mean."
- The goal is not to build up your anxiety--rather, it's about setting the stage for what could happen
- Now think through how you would respond to the scenarios you came up with
- It can be useful to write the scenario / response on a piece of paper because this helps you internalize your future behavior
Again, you are doing this not to ruin your day with anxiety.
This is a simple practice--it could even be a daily one--to prepare you for the unexpected.
The more possibilities you can bring to awareness, the more prepared you will feel in life.
The amazing thing is, the more I've done this, the more I've been able to keep my cool when truly bad things happen.
I'm not perfect.
I don't always respond well to the unexpected.
Because I'm a human being.
But knowing about the bad, and preparing for it, helps me bring more good into life.
You and I aren't here forever.
And while we're here, we need to deal with all sorts of situations.
Isn't it better to spend a small amount of time preparing your mind so you can maximize what you get out of this precious life?