By Rob Wederich
“That which does not kill you, makes you stronger.”-News reporter’s observation of Katrina survivors
The quoted reporter had cited instances where businesses and people who lost everything during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster in and around New Orleans have bounced back in surprising ways to become very successful. For example, one musician who lost all his instruments and music collection began composing music to reflect his Katrina experience. His tunes struck chords in people, and his popularity skyrocketed. And yes, he plays the Blues.
Interestingly, the same is probably true of job transition. While job loss creates hardships and anxiety, with the right perspective, most people will ultimately emerge stronger from the experience and better prepared to weather future challenges which life may bring them. Primitive cultures, like the traditional Eskimos who lived year round in the Great North, are prime examples of strength gained through hardship.
A look at how the traditional Eskimo culture coped with stress
If you were an Eskimo prior to 1955—in stark contrast to typical life in the contiguous United States—you were in constant survival mode. There were no supermarkets for food. If you were unable to catch fish or hunt animals, you and your family went hungry, sometimes for weeks on end when game was scarce. At such times, parents not only felt the pain of hunger themselves, they helplessly watched as their children suffered and sometimes died a slow death from starvation. In addition, there was little or no medicine available to native populations at this time, so if you were an Eskimo, you better have stayed healthy. Winter storms would typically bring temperatures of -50oF. Can you imagine what the wind chill factor would be? You might ponder, should you go out to hunt for food in such weather and risk frostbite or possible death, or let your family starve until the storm subsides, which could be a few days or more? In the winter, there are six months of darkness. Imagine how difficult it would be to hunt for food in darkness, month after month, for six months.
Perhaps it would be instructive to learn more about the elements in their culture that allowed those Eskimos to survive incredible hardships for nearly 10,000 years, since the time of the mammoths. One would think that people who live under such extreme hardships would be depressed, suicidal, in poor health, and probably short lived. That was not so for the traditional Eskimo. Anthropologists have generally described them as a happy people, in excellent health, often living into their nineties. How can this be? For sure, rigorous daily exercise, a diet rich in EPA fish oil, and lack of processed sugary foods had something to do with it. Then there was also their state of mind and method of coping with disaster.The Eskimos have a word for this state of mind, “Ayorama,” which means, “It can’t be helped.” A hunter could be traversing an ice flow with everything he owns packed on his husky-drawn sled. Without warning, the ice might crack beneath him and he, his sled, and his dogs would be immersed in -33have generally described them as a happy people, in excellent health, often living into their nineties. How can this be? For sure, rigorous daily exercise, a diet rich in EPA fish oil, and lack of processed sugary foods had something to do with it. Then there was also their state of mind and method of coping with disaster.The Eskimos have a word for this state of mind, “Ayorama,” which means, “It can’t be helped.” A hunter could be traversing an ice flow with everything he owns packed on his husky-drawn sled. Without warning, the ice might crack beneath him and he, his sled, and his dogs would be immersed in -33oF ocean water. Miraculously, he scrambles up on the ice. Unfortunately, his dogs yelping with pain do not make it. He loses his team along with all his worldly belongings. Shivering violently and turning blue, he rolls in the snow to allow the snow to absorb some water from his fur clothing. Then he runs, perhaps 10 miles, perhaps 20 miles or more, so that his body heat warms him and helps dry his clothing somewhat. What does he think of as soon as he realizes he is out of immediate physical danger? His poor dogs? All the things he lost? Should he contemplate suicide? Not at all. He is thinking of what a superb story he has to tell friends and relatives when he is able to get back to his village. There is a big smile on his face as he envisions how his listeners will be captivated by his tale of how he cheated death, lost everything, and escaped with only the clothes on his back! He is happy just to be alive. Ayorama.
To help you best survive your job transition as well as life in general, the traditional Eskimo culture offers some important “take-aways,” listed below. They helped the Eskimo survive incredible hardships; perhaps they will help you, too:
- Eat Right
- Accept what you cannot change and move on
- Be happy
- Be optimistic
On A Lighter Note
A company, feeling it is time for a shakeup, hires a new CEO. This new boss is determined to rid the company of all slackers.
On a tour of the facilities, the CEO notices a guy leaning on a wall. The room is full of busy workers and he wants to let them know he means business!
The CEO walks up to the guy and asks, “How much money do you make a week from your job?” Undaunted, the young fellow looks at him and replies, “I make $300.00 a week. Why?”
The CEO hands the guy $600 in cash and screams, “Here’s two week’s pay, now GET OUT and don’t come back!”
Feeling pretty good about his first firing, the CEO looks around the room and asks “Does anyone want to tell me what that goof-off did here?”
From the back of the room, one of the other workers mutters, “Pizza guy from Domino’s.”
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