Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Mental Green Zone

We've heard about Green Zones and Red Zones in the World Without Oil. Conditions vary by physical location. But I've also noticed a lot of differences between individuals in the same area, in the ways that they react to crisis.

Some people panic, or sink into depression, or become angry and violent. These are the mental red zones.

The mental yellow zones contain people who switch their brains into wishful-thinking mode. They convince themselves that changes are not necessary because everything will all be back to normal in a week or two. Others in this zone wander like zombies, confused by what's happening but unable to meaningfully respond. They wait for someone else to step in and fix things.

But people in the mental green zones are resilient, resourceful, and flexible. They are neither unrealistically optimistic, nor despondent. They never wish for a crisis, but when it comes they find ways to adapt. In the words of the Tao Te Ching:

They were careful
As someone crossing a frozen stream in winter.
Alert as if surrounded on all sides by an enemy.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Whole as an uncarved block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Turbid as muddied water.

I read somewhere that young children lost in the woods are actually more likely to survive than most adults. They are not "sophisticated" enough to panic and do something crazy. They see their situation as kind of interesting. And they do simple, obvious things like finding a sheltered spot where they can lie down and rest.

I hope we can all find our mental green zones in the World Without Oil.


C. said...

I just love that post and it makes me strive to be in the mental green zone. Also I LOVE that photo of the Otter:)

gracesmom said...

I am trying very hard to put myself in a mental green zone! Between this and prudentrver's happiness formula, I will either be blissed out or completely goofy.

Tom said...

Thanks! I took the otter photo at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport.