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A University of Canterbury (UC) researcher has found positive and changed attitudes from survivors of the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes.
Fourth year UC marketing student Meagan Parker spent four months researching post-quake outlooks and said many people were glad the earthquakes happened as it forced them to break from their mundane existences.
``The quakes gave people an excuse to try new things they’ve always wanted to. Feeling close to death gave them an opportunity to live life more,’’ Parker said in her honours dissertation yesterday.
``We know people had an attachment to special objects. One area where we are seeing interesting findings is that some people are becoming less attached to sentimental objects that might be damaged in a crisis event (like the earthquakes).
``These objects represented a part of their life that has passed. For example, people's houses, which are very special to them, also represented them being stuck in a life they weren't happy with.
``People stopped having an attachment to previously important items and became more attached to mundane items that previously carried no meaning. People are holding on to things that are wrecked and make no logical sense.’’
Some took the opportunity from the earthquakes to rethink their entire lives, she said. Some saw it as a chance to break their mundane existence and to try something new and something they'd always wanted to do.
Others were holding on to their previous lives and wanted to go back to how things were, but others had transcended their old attachment to possessions and found new meaning in different things.
``It is no longer the nice car and nice house, but finding meaning in different, non-physical things, like helping others. They saw the earthquakes as a 'ticket to change' because their lives felt like Groundhog Day.
``The quakes gave them an opportunity to shift their values and possessions became less important. This is post-traumatic growth where positive psychological change is experienced as a result of a struggle with highly challenging circumstances.
``Some survivors surveyed asked if anyone cared about possessions. Some can no longer remember what was damaged. They didn’t care that they no longer had special possessions about any more but found having survived the quakes quite liberating.’’
Parker, supervised by Dr Ekant Veer and Dr Michael Hall, said some people she talked to said their houses were mostly trashed, apart from one or two small items and they held dearly on to those as survivors of the earthquakes.