How reacting or responding to an incident can shape your day
Charles Darwin one the forefathers of evolutionary studies was once quoted saying:
“it is not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change”
Now when I first came across this quote it didn’t really have any impact until I broke it down a few months later, and then started applying some of the thinking into my everyday activities.
The part that really connected with me was the part around responding to change. Now if we analyse that quote a bit more, what you will find is change is a key element to development as well as evolution. We all go through changes throughout our lives, some more significant than others, but nonetheless we all change, physically, emotionally and mentally.
What are our choices?
We all have choices, choices that involve how we feel about those changes or incidents that happen to us, during which are two options we can choose, one is to react and the other is to respond.
Now if we react, we tend to focus on the negative impact of that change or incident, for example, we’re driving in morning traffic to work and all of a sudden someone decides to cut us off and we almost have a serious crash. Our natural human reaction to that is to be alert, alarmed and defensive towards that incident, and naturally we would react negatively towards it because our mind and body have detected some form of danger. Our immediate reaction would be to swear and scream out the window, throw some hand gestures at the person as they drive off, and even chase them to let them know what they did to you! Now as I mentioned before that is a very natural reaction, maybe not the chasing part, but certainly the swearing and hand gestures (I often will do this myself). However it is what we do after the initial human reaction that defines that incident. So I mentioned that we have two choices, one is to react and the other is to respond, lets take a look at the scenario where we react.
After the initial incident and reaction, we choose to react further. We react by driving to our destination thinking about that one person who cut us off, our mind is all of a sudden occupied by that incident, and we remember zooming in and out of traffic to find them, cutting other people off, just so we can tell this person how we feel. We finally get to our destination, lets say its work, and we carry on reacting, looking for the first person to tell our story and what happened to us that morning, and how pissed off we are. We then go further, and look for more people to tell, and so the whole day is spent talking about this one incident, and all our energy is drawn towards this one incident, we can’t focus on work, we get tired, and snap at other people because our mood has evolved around this one incident that happened hours ago.
Now lets take a look at the other choice which is to respond to that incident. The person cuts us off, we swear, get annoyed and shout. Now instead of carrying on, we go back to our day and continue listening to music or the radio, and we choose to not chase them down the road, and as a result we get to work calm with a happy attitude and we get on with our day in a positive manner, and not once letting that incident get to us.
Now sure the example is fairly black and white, but what I wanted to demonstrate is everyday we have choices that we make, choices that will effect how we feel, and boiled down those two choices are simply reacting or responding.
In the example of reacting to the incident you can see how much energy is involved by reacting to that incident, whereas in the example of responding it is almost as if it never happened. Everyday we come across daily incidents like someone cutting us off on the road, or a morning where nothing goes right, or job or task that feels like it will never end, and how we react or respond to those incidents will determine how we evolve from that situation, and like Darwin’s quote, its not the ones that are the strongest or intelligent that survive a situation, but the ones that respond to change that will continue to evolve and develop as a person.
So do you tend to react or respond? What are your thoughts on this blog, leave a comment, share if you agree or simply reflect to see which one you gravitate towards.