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What’s Your Emergency Routine?

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No, not actual emergencies like the arrival of a tornado or a tyrant (although you should definitely be doing your premeditatio malorum). The other kind of emergencies that life throws at you: Waking up depressed. Getting blindsided with news that a loved one has died. Or that your job has been “eliminated.”

You know, the stuff that throws us for a loop. The stuff that can very easily, if we’re not careful, send us into a downward spiral.

We talked to AJ Daulerio recently about just this thing. AJ is a guy who turned to Stoicism after a billionaire-backed lawsuit put him $200 million in debt (which you can read about in Ryan’s book Conspiracy), and this finally drove him into drug and alcohol recovery. He explained how critical it’s been for him to have emergency routines that he can rely on when, to borrow Marcus Aurelius’s phrase, he is “jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances.” If he wakes up to bad news, if he suddenly gets hit with a craving, if some painful memory comes flooding back, he needs to have something to do that brings him back to center, that prevents him from giving back all the progress he has made.

When that happens, he knows he has to get to a recovery meeting. He knows he has to go pick up his journal. He knows he needs to spend a few minutes meditating. He knows, for example, that one of the best things he can do is call somebody else and help them. In recovery, they speak a lot about “being of service.” This is not simply about making amends or processing guilt. This is a practical, functional, adaptive strategy. Because focusing on someone else’s problems is a great way to prevent you from indulging your own.

As we talked about with having *panic rules,* these emergency routines can vary by person and by circumstance. It could be reading for one person when things are getting chaotic at work, or it can be working out for another person when things are too calm and the negative internal voice gets too loud. It could be heading to church to pray…or a recovery meeting in that same church’s basement. It could be asking for help…or offering help.

What you choose doesn’t matter. What matters is that you choose. And that what you choose works for you. The point is…you need a plan. Because Fortune, like always, is going to behave as she pleases. Life is going to challenge us, trigger us, kick us around. We cannot expect otherwise.

All we can do is be prepared to respond. All we can do is have a good emergency routine when that moment of difficulty arrives.

You can listen to our full interview with A.J. Daulerio here on The Daily Stoic podcast, which has hit over 70 million downloads worldwide! Thank you to everyone who has listened. And if you haven’t already, please subscribe!