You Choose to React or Respond

By: Daniel Sitter

Choices abound. Sometimes choices confound us, while at other times, certain choices are rather obvious. Any way you approach the subject, choices present opportunities to either excel or hinder. As human beings, we were endowed by our Creator with the power of choice. It is one of the factors that differentiate persons from animals. Some people make these choices or decisions more easily than others.

Each day, we must decide how we will spend our precious twenty four hours and deal with all that the world presents to us. We choose how we will be affected by both everyday occurrences and those that are much more extraordinary. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we choose to either react or respond. These are not the same, for one is negative and one is positive. Which we choose may have a significant impact on our life and possibly those close to us.

Reacting to outside influences, usually beyond our control is generally a negative choice. Reacting implies that we have given charge of the situation to someone or something else. We surrender our input and any control in the matter. We are now at the mercy of the situation and are forced to be in reaction mode where we are constantly dodging bullets and expending great amounts of energy just to stay afloat. In reacting to a situation, we do not anticipate that which is to come because we are too busy handling the present. The future then surprises us and the whole mess begins again.

Responding to a situation is a positive choice. It is the opposite of reacting. It is proactive and anticipates that which is yet to come. Responding is preceded by thought and often prayer. In responding, we take charge and have command over how the situation impacts us. We also have control over how it affects us internally. We decide upon the level of personal impact.

Our lives, families, careers and other everyday activities and interests are operating at breakneck speeds and appear at times to be accelerating. One thing is for certain, the old days of sitting around on the front porch each evening listening to Mother Nature are gone for many of us. The pace of life in Mayberry, as healthy and tranquil as it would appear, is unfortunately a thing of the past. We live life on the fast track.

A major news weekly magazine is currently featuring material devoted to stress and distress in our lives and their effects on our cardiovascular health. Although not totally surprising, this information is disturbing. How did we ever get to this point? Witness the number of television commercials and magazine advertisements for gastric distress, acid reflux, anxiety, depression, headaches and other ailments that are increasing in frequency. There are millions of prescriptions written each day for these medical conditions, most of which will find their roots in internalized stress and distress.

People spend many hours of their lives worrying. Worry is a senseless, energy robbing activity that has engulfed many. No one has ever benefited from worry, yet countless people engage in it. Worry is the opposite of faith. Worry is negative while faith is positive. There is no mystery here. Many books have been written on the subject. The conclusions are the same: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and “Stop Worrying and Start Living” are among the many themes presented. Good advice indeed.

Most areas of life present us with choices. We must choose either to respond or react to circumstances. We choose whether or not to worry. Learn to be aware that you have a choice in these matters. Learn that there are ways that you can deal with everything either positively or negatively. Learn that your choices may influence your very health, both physical and mental. Learn that there will be costs associated with poor choices, worrying and negativity in general. These may include social, monetary, peace of mind and time costs. Certainly, the total cost associated with negative choices is too high.

Learn that positively responding to circumstances in life will significantly reduce or eliminate worry and contribute to your overall good health and well being. Find joy in life. Be happy.