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Learn to Respond, Not React : zen habits

Learn to Respond, Not React : zen habits:

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
~Lao Tzu

Post written by

Leo Babauta

Much of our lives is spent in reaction to others and to events around
us. The problem is that these reactions might not always be the best
course of action, and as a result, they can make others unhappy, make
things worse for us, make the situation worse.

Why would we want to make things worse?

The truth is, we often react without thinking. It’s a gut reaction,
often based on fear and insecurities, and it’s not the most rational or
appropriate way to act. Responding, on the other hand, is
taking the situation in, and deciding the best course of action based on
values such as reason, compassion, cooperation
, etc.

Let’s take a quick example:

  1. React: Your child breaks something. You immediately
    react by getting angry, perhaps yelling, upsetting the child and
    yourself, worsening your relationship, not making anything better.
  2. Respond: Your child breaks something. You notice
    your anger reaction, but pause, take a breath, and consider the
    situation. First response is to see if your child is OK — is she hurt,
    scared? Second, realize that the object that is broken, in the larger
    view, is not that important. Let it go, adjust to a world without it
    Third, help her clean up, make a game of it, show her that mistakes
    happen and that it’s not something to dwell on. Fourth, calmly talk
    about how to avoid mistakes like that in the future, and give her a hug.

This choice presents itself to us all the time, whether it’s our
mother nagging us, our co-worker being rude, our husband not being kind
enough, and so on. There will always be external events that bother us,
but if we learn to respond and not just react, we can make things better
and not worse.

My decade-long Tumblr and relatively short Outlander fandom experience, as well as my observations on Caitriona Balfe, are consistent with what I have been learning on my job and in dancing: Act or Respond, but don’t react.

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