We see in our daily lives; a few things will disturb us. Some irate us, and some will make us sad. So, what do we do with them? Most of the time – we react!
It is a natural human tendency to react. However, I think we should always give a response instead of giving a reaction. There are many reasons for it. One of them is – response is treated as positive behavior while the reaction is seen as a negative one. Moreover, it also decides the fate of results. The response produces different results than the reaction will do. A response can create more positive results than a reaction can.
Let me tell you an anecdote I came across many years ago...
Three women friends met in a restaurant after a long time. And yes, you can guess: lots of discussions, exchange of news and views — loads of information and data transfer. I was sitting beside their table. One particular part of their conversation caught my attention. One of the ladies, with a lot of interest, was sharing some facts about a cockroach. With a lot of enthusiasm, she was telling how a cockroach can run three miles per hour. A cockroach can live a long time, perhaps a week without its head. It can change its direction 25 times in a second. There was non-stop excitement in her voice. She continued, “You know what, a cockroach has amazing adaptability. It can survive in any climate or condition – inside any crack, right from sewage pipe up to antennae on the top floor. In fact, a cockroach can survive even an attack of an atomic explosion, too.”
Suddenly – a cockroach flew from nowhere and sat on her. I thought cockroach must have liked this lady praising about it so much. She started screaming out of fear. With panic and trembling voice, she started doing stationary jumping with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach. The other two ladies started giving her chorus. It was more of a contagious reaction. The lady finally managed to push the cockroach onto another lady. Now it was the turn of another lady to continue the drama. While all this was happening, one of the waiters rushed to their rescue, and in the relay race of throwing cockroach, it landed upon the waiter. The waiter stood firm, composed himself, and observed its movement on his shirt. When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the window.
I started wondering, “Was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior? If yes, then why the waiter was not perturbed? He handled it to near perfection without any chaos. It was not the cockroach, but the inability of those ladies to handle the disturbance caused by that cockroach disturbed them.
Even in our case, it is not the traffic that disturbs us. What annoys us is our inability to handle the disturbance caused by traffic. It is not someone shouting at me that bothers me. It is my inability to handle that situation that disturbs me. So, more than the problem, it is our reaction to the problem, which hurts us more.
Then, how do we outgrow this limitation? As I understood, I should not always react. I should respond. Reactions come from instinct, whereas response comes from intellect. Between the stimuli and my response to it, if there is no gap, it causes a reaction. But, if between stimuli and response I fill the gap with my thinking and contemplate, then I can respond.
This is the reason why I would say, in every possible situation – don’t react; respond!
And more importantly, the problem is seldom an issue - out inability to handle it, and frustrations caused by it are the main culprits for our agony.