When you’re walking down the street, or in the park, having a good time, and you see someone approaching you in the opposite direction and you say “good day,“ do you ever get a negative response? Perhaps they avoid eye contact or stare at you with no emotion or reaction. They may even give you a scowl. It is really unfortunate when this happens because it will probably make you feel bad, decreasing the likelihood that you will make further effort to greet a stranger. I have been working with a process to help deal with these situations for more than a year now. I call it the End of the World Scenario (EWS).
Basically, the idea is to assume that the end of the world is coming. I am not saying that it is coming tomorrow (or even in a year), but simply that it is. Assume that the end of the world is coming far enough down the road that you are not freaking out, but close enough that it is real for you, say in five or ten years. The important part is to accept EWS as being correct. And again, I am not saying that it is happening. I am saying: assume that it is, accept it, and live the rest of your days until the end of the world the way that you feel is best. For example, when you do something that is stressful, ask yourself “Is this necessary?” “Is this what I want to do with my last few days on earth?”
Very quickly, the unimportant things fade away, and you are left with a sense of peace with the way you lead your life. I call this being an Embracer of the End of the World Scenario.
Now when you greet somebody who gives you an unfavourable response, you can call those people Deniers of EWS. They can sense the end of the word, but just haven’t identified or accepted it. They see the stress and hate and terrible behaviour in other people and society. They know something is wrong. The Deniers just don’t know what it is. They don’t realize that the end of the world is coming, and people are freaking out.
After you become an Embracer, you may start to feel sorry for the Deniers. You no longer feel they are causing you grief. Your anger and resentment go away. Their behaviour may still be making the world around them miserable, but you understand why, and sympathize. You feel sorry that they are living their last few days in such misery.
The goal of EWS is to get to the point where you feel sorry for Deniers and actually want to do something to help them (and yourself). I’m not saying that you have to walk up to them and tell them about EWS. No, that would not work. What I mean is don’t be complicit with the problems you see around you. Lead by example.
If the idea of EWS freaks you out, then you have to deal with that first. You have to accept it. Remember this is an exercise, not a firm belief. I do think it is more effective, and fun, if you do actually accept EWS. It gives you insight into how you live your life, and why people are freaking out.
Why not give EWS a try?
When you think about it, what are the downsides to EWS? You won’t change your future plans that much because we are talking about the end being in five or ten years, which is enough time that you still have to plan for the future. If you can accept EWS (and don’t have anxiety about it), you will start cherishing every moment and doing things that you find important or enjoyable. And if the end doesn’t come, you will have had five to ten years of enjoying your life, and another five or ten to go. What’s the harm in that?
The best part of EWS is that when you greet a stranger, and you get a happy response, you feel that they are an Embracer as well. They are ‘in the know.’ They are part of your club, even though they don’t even know it. It makes you feel like you belong to the right side.
Say no to the Dark side. Say yes to the Bright side. The end of the world is coming, so enjoy yourself until it arrives.