As complexities increase so do anxieties. Focusing on the symptoms, imagined effects or potential ramifications in any given situation just serves to push oneself further into the deep end. And if you can’t swim or more precisely can’t get yourself to acknowledge that you have to swim, you’re going to panic, sink and then unfortunately drown. The point is that in any given situation, it is critical to define the situation as opposed to being overwhelmed by the situation. Then one is free to choose an appropriate response rather than being a slave to reaction.
cri-sis: noun [krahy-sis]
- a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, esp. for better or for worse, is determined; turning point.
op-por-tu-ni-ty: noun [op-er-too-ni-tee]
- a favorable or advantageous circumstance or combination of circumstances; a chance for progress or advancement.
Crisis and opportunity. The actual definitions are very similar, in fact they share the same character in written Chinese. But because they each have such distinctly different and incredibly powerful connotations, their usage drastically colors our thoughts and influences our perception, of both our own lives and the larger world. Crisis implies a certain helplessness; a scared, and perhaps futile, reaction to a large, unknown and external force. Opportunity reflects a sense of confidence. A focused and purposeful response to the current conditions, designed to ultimately improve one’s position.
Constantly changing circumstances are an immutable fact, both far outside our comprehension and our control. However, accepting change and then choosing to see and then act upon opportunities, rather than being swept aside by random crises, will yield a much richer and more meaningful life.
Responding is not reacting. Reacting is unconsciously automatic while responding is consciously decisive. Reacting abrogates our choice of thoughts and actions to the current environment. Responding aligns our thoughts and actions with our goals. Reacting is easy. Responding requires patience, practice and persistence.
Challenge yourself by examing your thoughts and actions. Begin to cultivate the habit of response. Ultimately responding will become reaction.