Choosing our reactions

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be — Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are given millions of moments every day to practise maintaining our peace.

When I was first given this perspective I instantly prickled. I used to often allow myself to be overcome with a situation, blaming others for the way I was feeling. To some extent, I even enjoyed that wave of surliness, that delicious luxury of being cranky. And it was all some one else's fault. What they said or did, caused me to feel this way. This entitled me to my reaction, a tit for tat emotional rollercoaster. But it's interesting


, this cycle of entitlement to a bitterness for someone's actions. Because the only real loser here, is you. It is your peace that is disturbed, not those whose choices sent ripples of dissatisfaction towards you. When I was told I had the power to choose how to react, this made me cross. You don't know what's happened to me! I'd think. You have no idea how bad I feel. I then had a philosophy teacher in India, a man who wore his peace like a cloak and had warm eyes that danced with merriment. He said to me, our happiness is within us, not an external force to be given, and the mind is an instrument that you have the power to use as you do your hand, or foot. Someone can try to disturb you, whether meaning to or as a byproduct of their actions, and you have the utmost ability to determine how you react. Your peace, should be the most valuable and treasured component in the whole situation. By losing it, you have lost the whole damn point. Of course, this choice doesn't equate to non-action. If something needs to be done, if something requires action, do it! A crisis demands an input. But you can make a flurry of function without inner turmoil. With practise.

This perspective was one I wanted to not believe. It suited m


e better to feel powerless and then succumb to the negativity. At times, I revelled in it. But it's a powerful tool to leading a far more peaceful existence and once I started practising it, I soon realised its potent reality. I say practise, because that is exactly what it is. This doesn't successfully happen every time a bump in the road emerges ahead. But luckily for us, and for you, we're given a litany of opportunities to practise every day. And if at first you don't succeed, you can acknowledge what happened and how it made you feel, forgive it and move on. Try again. In our first world bubble, this may be a trying hour on hold trying to talk to someone about your telephone bill. A slow restaurant service, or a mixed up coffee order. A bad-tempered colleague who seems out to wreak havoc on your day. A close family member or loved one who is determined to bring their toxic energy to the table. But that word, opportunity, was a perspective that helped change my cognitive attitude. Rather than seeing a situation as a terrible


thing out of my control, I am trying to see it as an recourse to practise maintaining my peace. It's not rejection; it's redirection. As always, this is an ongoing project that I suspect will take approximately a life time to attain. But it turns out that we make things very complicated for ourselves, and sometimes the answers are as simple as they seem. Try it, you may be as pleasantly surprised as I was.  

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily — Zig Ziglar