One of the best ways to make even the worst situations a little better is to remind yourself that the situation is not even close to the worst. As bad as things look in Houston (and quite possibly will be in Florida soon), on this day 117 years ago hurricane winds of more than 120mph struck Galveston, Texas. Galveston was a town 8 feet above sea level. The storm surge alone was 15 feet tall. More than 8,000 people died. More than 2,500 buildings were destroyed. A train pulled into Galveston after the storm and found, essentially, that nothing was left. It was horrific enough to make what’s happened in Houston look like a blessing.
No matter how bad a situation we face, it could be worse. Feeling sick? Better than falling and injuring yourself. Have a difficult employee? Better than finding out they are robbing you blind. Got in a car accident? At least you weren’t t-boned by a semi. Whatever has happened to us there is almost certainly someone living not long ago who would have gladly traded our fate for theirs—they would trade for even our worst moments. The Stoics believed that this was not a trivial fact. This realization is incredibly powerful. It allows the holder to find a little gratitude, a little relief, even amidst terrible tragedy.
So remember that today, whatever happens. It could be a lot worse.
P.S. This email was sent on September 8th, 2017