PUBLISHED: 12:14 PM on Wednesday, September 7, 2005
Four things you must do when tragedy strikes

  By Daniel R. Castro
Hurricane Katrina is a remind-er that we never know when or where tragedy is going to strike. As the fourth anniversary of 9/11 nears, we are also reminded that we do not choose tragedy - it chooses us.

When tragedy strikes, our first reaction is shock. We may have had some forewarning, but it's never enough. Some people run for higher ground. Some people lash themselves to the most solid thing they can find. Some people find a hole in the ground and hold on for dear life. It is absolutely essential to follow these four steps for surviving any tragedy.

Choose to Believe. It is essential that you stop and get your bearings. Assess where you are and what resources you have around you. Stop and assess the approaching storm. Acknowledge it, but don't blow it out of proportion. Yes, cancer and hurricanes are still terminal, but plenty of people survive them.

Doublecheck the Facts. Remember, the biggest obstacle that is standing in your way is not the obstacle, it is what you believe about the obstacle. But our beliefs are not always consistent with reality.

Go to Those Outside the Box. In an emergency, you don't have time to brain-storm with a focus group to come up with thousands of creative ideas and on how to deal with the situation. You must think and act quickly and decisively. You don't have time to get yourself out of "the box." If you go exclusively to those who share your belief system and think like you do, you will not learn anything new.

Focus a Purpose Bigger Than Yourself. When tragedy strikes, our instincts kick in and our first thoughts and actions are for self-preservation. But, there are a few rare souls out there, who override these instincts by making a conscious, deliberate choice to focus on a purpose bigger than themselves. We call them heroes.

When we help other people weather their storms, something unexplainable happens in the cosmos. And sometimes, just every now and then, miracles happen.