Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Adaptability - The Key to Urban Survival


What is the key to urban survival? There are a lot of useful and important skills, of course, but I will suggest adaptability as the true key to urban survival. Adaptability doesn't come easy for most of us, but fortunately it is a skill that can be learned.

Things can change quickly. This is especially true in an urban environment, with its high population density made up of highly diverse peoples. That diversity adds a large element of unpredictability to any situation. Large population numbers also mean greater problems with crime, violence, homelessness, mental illnesses, substance abuse, government interference, and other problematic aspects of society. These problems do exist in small towns and rural areas, of course, but typically not to the extent they do in  a large city.

Cities also tend to be on the leading edge of change, be it social, political, economic, or technological. These changes are often fast-paced with unpredictable consequences. Living in a large city requires an ability to constantly adapt to these changes. This will especially be true as chaos increases in any collapse scenario, be it slow or sudden. So, what does adaptability look like? How can we be more adaptable?

Principles of Adaptability 

1) No whining. Change happens, like it or not. Whining won't stop it or make it better, and may make things worse as it distracts you from accepting and dealing with those changes.

2) Accept change.  Change happens. We don't have to like it, but we do have to deal with it. I suggest this version of The Serenity Prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know how to best deal with those changes."

3) Know yourself. Knowing yourself - your core values, beliefs and important goals- will help you not lose yourself. It is possible to stay true to yourself while staying flexible enough to deal with the changes and chaos around you. Figure out your core beliefs and what is truly important to you. Then look for ways to adapt without compromising yourself. Be defined by your core values, not your habits.

4) Think big picture. Don't get so caught up on the details that you lose sight of the big picture. For example: In the big picture, it is important to make a living to provide for yourself and your family. How you make that living is details, not big picture. Any job or career will do, it doesn't have to be only a particular job or particular career. You may have to adjust to economic changes, and that is okay.

5) Think ahead. Don't just be reactive. Be proactive. Yes, "proactive" is a business buzzword, but it has important applications in all areas of life. Change rarely happens without any advance warning, if you are paying attention. Pay attention, then do something. Don't just wait around for someone else to deal with it for you. And don't just look for problems - look for opportunities, too.

6) Look for opportunity.  Every change, every failure, every new situation presents both difficulties and opportunities. Don't get so focused on the difficulties that you fail to see the opportunities.

7) Ask different questions. Seek different perspectives. Be curious. Be open-minded, but not so not so open-minded that your brain falls out. In other words, don't compromise your core, but be willing to listen to other perspectives. And remember the acronym ASK - Always Seek Knowledge.  Never get to the point where you think you've got it all figured out, and that no one else is worth listening to. 

8) Make multiple plans. Don't just have a Plan A. You also need a Plan B. And a Plan C and even a Plan D are also useful. There's rarely just one way to a goal. Be willing to look for several different paths in case your first one becomes unworkable for some reason.

9) Stay positive.  This circles back to "stop whining" in point one, and goes beyond it, too. Don't let change and chaos get you down. Accept it, deal with it , and more on. All the while, stay positive. The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale, is one of the best selling self-help books of all-time for a reason - it works. The best way to stay positive when facing difficulties is by saying "I will overcome" and by focusing on dealing it, rather then letting it get you down and defeating you.  

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

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