We live in a rolling boil of catastrophe (gestures vaguely at everything), and there is a case to be made for accepting that as fact so we can be as prepared as possible. This is NOT a book about digging bunkers or prepper extremism; it’s about the mindsets that help us manage disasters WHEN they are visited upon us.
There is comfort in thinking these things through, even if only for the mental exercise that empowers us to respond, not react, when bad things happen. Because they WILL happen, and just as certain, we can choose to make things a little less awful for ourselves and others when they do.
An urgent, transformative guide to dealing with disasters from one of today’s foremost thinkers in crisis management.
The future may still be unpredictable, but nowadays, disasters are not. We live in a time of constant, consistent catastrophe, where things more often go wrong than they go right. So why do we still fumble when disaster hits? Why are we always one step behind?
In The Devil Never Sleeps, Juliette Kayyem lays the groundwork for a new approach to dealing with disasters. Presenting the basic themes of crisis management, Kayyem amends the principles we rely on far too easily. Instead, she offers us a new framework to anticipate the “devil’s” inevitable return, highlighting the leadership deficiencies we need to overcome and the forward thinking we need to harness. It’s no longer about preventing a disaster from occurring, but learning how to use the tools at our disposal to minimize the consequences when it does.
Filled with personal anecdotes and real-life examples from natural disasters like the California wildfires to man-made ones like the Boeing 737 MAX crisis, The Devil Never Sleeps is a guide for governments, businesses, and individuals alike on how to alter our thinking so that we can develop effective strategies in the face of perpetual catastrophe.
This book is about getting back to basics. A reminder that as our lives get ever more complex, the solutions are relatively simple: move, spend time in nature, eat healthily, and have the courage to do hard things. As always, these reminders are often said easy and done hard (which is why we need to read about them all the time!)
“An engaging and practical guided tour of the simple and nature-inspired ways that Finns stay happy and healthy–including the powerful concept of sisu, or everyday courage.
Forget hygge–it’s time to blow out the candles and get out into the world! Journalist Katja Pantzar did just that, taking the huge leap to move to the remote Nordic country of Finland. What she discovered there transformed her body, mind and spirit. In this engaging and practical guide, she shows readers how to embrace the “keep it simple and sensible” daily practices that make Finns one of the happiest populations in the world, year after year.
Movement as medicine: How walking, biking and swimming every day are good for what ails us–and best done outside the confines of a gym
Natural mood boosters: Cold water swimming, steamy saunas, and other ways to alleviate stress, anxiety, insomnia, and depression
Forest therapy: Why there’s no substitute for getting out into nature on a regular basis
Healthy eating: What the Nordic diet can teach us all about feeding body, mind and soul
The gift of sisu: Why Finns embrace a special form of courage, grit and determination as a national virtue – and how anyone can dig deeper to survive and thrive through tough times
If you’ve ever wondered if there’s a better, simpler way to find happiness and good health, look no further. The Finns have a word for that, and this empowering book shows us how to achieve it.”
Here are five articles that made me think over the last few weeks…
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It was the first time in 2023 that I took a true break, and I definitely needed it. During this time I caught up on some of life’s minor administrative tasks, read, napped, ate poorly (magnificently), napped some more, and then took one drive out to the Texas Hill country to snap some photos.
I was a bit out of practice, and it was depressingly hot, so my trip was short. But a few phantom storms in the area made for some nice clouds and just enough sunshine to take one decent photo (out of many).
The photo below is a wide shot, so you’ll need to scroll to see the whole image
I’ve long been a proponent of this philosophy. I fully believe that to make an impact, we have to focus on where we can make a difference. BUT…
And this is a big one…
We can’t use this approach as an excuse to be passive.
If we choose to be passive, we’ll never know what we’re capable of. If we choose to be passive, we can justify walking away from almost any situation that makes us uncomfortable. And then the burden (and the opportunity) falls to other people.
Don’t be passive.
This means that there will be times when things are beyond our control when we ALSO have a duty to push hard against the boundaries of that control to see what’s possible. We have an obligation on matters big and small to test the scope of our influence continually. Because right at the edge of our influence lies the opportunity to expand our capabilities.
The people who make a difference don’t resign themselves to defeat when they encounter a situation that is beyond their control. They think about how they can make a difference within that control, and they figure out how to test where that control ends.
That’s when they discover opportunities to put their unique strengths, skills, and experience to use.
I finished the book “Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, 1945–1955” recently. “Aftermath” is about history but also human nature, the good, the bad, and all the infuriatingly murky areas in between.
Publisher’s Summary: “How does a nation recover from fascism and turn toward a free society once more? This internationally acclaimed revelatory history of the transformational decade that followed World War II illustrates how Germany raised itself out of the ashes of defeat and reckoned with the corruption of its soul and the horrors of the Holocaust. The years 1945 to 1955 were a raw, wild decade that found many Germans politically, economically, and morally bankrupt. Victorious Allied forces occupied the four zones that make up present-day Germany. More than half the population was displaced; 10 million newly released forced laborers and several million prisoners of war returned to an uncertain existence. Cities lay in ruins – no mail, no trains, no traffic – with bodies yet to be found beneath the towering rubble.”
The question of how a society comes to terms with its actions and how it rebuilds when its very foundation has been left in ruins (socially, structurally, economically, totally) is one that I find parallels to in today’s world.
Are we in post-World War II Germany levels of tumult? Not even close. (At least not yet) But we have work to do.
It will take a concerted effort to regain international trust and our own faith in democracy after the Trump years and through whoever rises to take his place. It will mean finding the courage to acknowledge our history of racism, oppression, hate, and violence when we are doing our best to erase it. It will take total commitment to address the surging human and economic cost of climate change when right now, the most common action is inaction. It will mean addressing the incentives and means for misinformation to flourish. AND perhaps most importantly, it means overcoming the mindset that says “we’re all in this together” while acting out “like hell, we’re all in this together” during times of crisis.
We may not be living through a post-World War age, but it will take a similar effort to rebuild (and, in most cases, build for the first time) the kind of society that thrives in the future.
I don’t miss anything about the darkest days of the pandemic.
I do, however, miss appreciating the beauty in everyday things.
When every day and every moment was dangerous, our worlds became small. This forced us all to spend more time at home than we were accustomed to. For me, that meant embracing routines that our pre-pandemic lives didn’t leave time for. One such routine was walking around with my camera and finding things to take photos of.
Now, I’m under no illusion that I’m even remotely proficient when it comes to the art of photography. Mainly my approach is that when I see something I like, I attempt to take a picture of it. Or at least, that was my approach in the depths of the pandemic.
These days, my camera sits mostly unused on my desk, save for the occasional dusting. These days, I feel like I need a reason to take it with me, and even when I do, I tend to walk past what I used to take great care to notice.
While things have certainly taken a turn for the better in terms of the pandemic, and we have vastly more opportunities to get back out in the world, the noise of everyday life has also returned, crowding out the mindfulness needed to slow down and take in the world we were in such a rush to return to.
I never want to relive the difficulties of the last few years, but I do want to take what I learned into whatever comes next. And perhaps, all too simplistically, the first step is to grab my camera and start appreciating everything around me again.
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