Saturday, February 21, 2009

Curious about Reaction: What Kind of Reactions Do You Have to the Vicissitudes of Life?

Definition of Reaction: A regular or characteristic response to a stimulation of the nerves. Any action in resisting other action or force; counter tendency; movement in a contrary direction; reverse action. An action induced by vital resistance to some other action; depression or exhaustion of vital force consequent on overexertion or overstimulation; heightened activity and over action succeeding depression or shock.

A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.” - Wade Boggs, American athlete

It's not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” - Hans Selye, Canadian scientist

I chose “Reaction” for this week’s theme, because I noticed that I had an unpleasant reaction to a situation at the gym. Being on time – or even early – is important to me. The woman who teaches a fitness class before mine usually runs over her time. Because I teach the next three classes in a row, even five minutes can throw off the schedule. Once she stopped, my students started into the studio.

Her reaction was to admonish us for rushing them. I didn’t say much, but I am sure that my displeasure was evident, and I didn’t start my class on my usual high note. In Selye’s words above I did react to the stress of the moment. Later, when I rethought the reaction, I realized that letting myself react wasn’t helpful to anyone.

This may seem like a trivial incident, but it did make me realize how important it is to be aware of our reactions to the many ups and downs we experience daily. I do feel that we should check ourselves for reactions – both good and bad.

I know that when I am driving, I encounter many opportunities to react negatively to other drivers. Instead, I listen to audio self-help programs. To avoid negative reactions to long lines, I always carry reading material. Best of all, when I find I am reacting – especially to something my computer is doing or not doing - I call on my Yoga breathing and the hand position called “heart center.”

My advice to you is to know your “hot reaction buttons” and devise ways to avoid them and/or overcome them.

Some thoughts from our experts:
  • By action and reaction do we become strong or weak, according to the character of our thoughts and mental states. Fear is the deadly nightshade of the mind.” - Edward Walker, English athlete
  • A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction.” - Rita Mae Brown, American writer
  • Every revolutionary idea seems to evoke three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the phrases: 1- It's completely impossible. 2- It's possible, but it's not worth doing. 3- I said it was a good idea all along.” - Arthur C. Clarke, English writer
  • Every generation renews itself in its own way; there's always a reaction against whatever is standard.” Sol LeWitt, American artist
  • Excess generally causes reaction, and produces a change in the opposite direction, whether it be in the seasons, or in individuals, or in governments.” – Plato, Greek philosopher
  • The only honest reaction and true loyalty we get is from our animals. Once they're your friends, you can do no wrong.” - Dick Van Patten, American actor

Three more that I thoroughly agree with:

  • Any reaction is better than none.” - Gavin Rossdale, British musician
  • I always trust my gut reaction; it's always right.” - Kiana Tom, American model
  • It's not the situation... It's your reaction to the situation.” - Robert Conklin, American educator

Let me know your reaction to this blog. I love hearing from you!

P.S. The next time the other instructor runs late, I will just wait along with my students, smile pleasantly and avoid "sweating the small stuff."