I originally read The Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy back in high school and little did I know then how valuable the phrase “Don’t Panic!” would be. I agree with Arthur C. Clarke who once said, “Douglas Adams’ use of ‘don’t panic’ was perhaps the best advice that could be given to humanity.”
There have been many times in my life when things have gone haywire and the phrase, Don’t Panic, floods my mind. It reminds me that this is just another thing happening and panicking will only prolong and make it worse. Keep Calm is all well and good but it’s not as powerful a phrase as Don’t Panic.
Panic is an immediate reaction. We all do it when things aren’t going the way we would expect. Life has a way of not doing what we think it should, and just telling someone to keep calm negates what is actually occurring. Calm may not be what is required in every situation but not panicking is all-purpose.
If I think about it, this was an early introduction to Zen. Allowing a situation to be without dwelling on my emotional reaction to it is how to move through life effortlessly. We cannot necessarily control emotions but we can choose not to attach any meaning or importance to them.
Emotions are much like a barometer. What we’ve called positive emotions occur when a situation is to our liking, something we want to happen and prolong. Negative emotions are like physical pain – I don’t like this and it might eventually harm me. Using emotions like a gauge rather than some truth about a situation is much more useful.
And you won’t have to be reminded to Keep Calm. It will just be your natural state of being.
Much love to Douglas Adams wherever you are.