Once I discovered a lump in my groin. I was very worried and really believed it was cancer. When I talked to a nurse and described the symptoms I calmed down. It turned out to be a totally harmless lump, and it disappeared by itself within weeks, but for a couple of intense days I could think of nothing else but the lump and what it could mean to me. I depicted the most horrible scenes: me sitting on the hospital bed vomiting after the chemotherapy; my little son's heartbroken face when saying farewell at my death-bed; my family crying over my grave.
During this nightmare it seemed important to me to really think about how I wanted my life to be. I started planning as if I had only one year left to live. I decided to live a life with quality and give priority to the things that were most important to me. I made several decisions and when I realized that the threat wasn't so serious this time, I experienced a strong feeling of reverence and gratitude for the life I had in my hands. During the following years I tried to fulfill the plans I'd made during my trials and fears. The harmless lump turned out to be a turning-point in my life.
Maybe you have experienced something similar. Maybe for you it was a real disease and not just a warning shot. If you've been there you know that sooner or later there comes a time when we realize that life gives no guarantees. All of our plans and dreams can be demolished in a second. When we fully realize that, it becomes more important than ever to cherish what we have. It also becomes less important to quarrel and argue about small details that don't mean anything in the long run. Life is so valuable, let's not waste time on things that are meaningless.
We will all, most likely, face crises in life. Can one prepare for them? I think that a person who hasn't reflected on his/her life could be up for a harder blow when the crisis comes, than a person who has made such reflections. Of course it's very individual, but there's definitely no harm in thinking about those things before you find yourself in the midst of a crisis. Through the crisis we will develop. But we can set the compass by ourselves; we can choose development before the crisis absorbs us. It then becomes a conscious process of change.
Self development as a result of conscious choices means that you have the power to choose your way in life. You have the power to change things, maybe just a small step at a time, but still, there is a freedom in this thought. When we stop just letting things happen to us, and grab the steering wheel, that's when we are happy. We can take control and plan for a better future. Life will always surprise us and we will face problems and crises, yes, but when the hard times come, we will be stronger if we have made good choices.