I was at a yoga retreat a few weeks ago. It was incredible. One entire weekend of practicing yoga, talking about yoga, and thinking about how it positively affects our lives. During one of the sessions, Sumit, my teacher, talked about the concept of fight or flight. Survival instincts. And he explained how, we, as humans, have another element in our bag of tricks. We have the ability to not fight, not fly off, but to witness.
My interpretation of this is the ability to React, Respond, or Release (mostly because the alliteration makes it sound much cooler!).
It made me think a lot about how people react to unexpected change. How people respond to adverse situations. And I can tell you right now. Most people are not doing a very good job. And it’s affecting their attitude. Their life. And their relationships.
Imagine that you’re out on the freeway, and someone cuts you off. What do you do? Do you react by honking your horn? Do you respond by cutting them off? Or, do you do something entirely different. Entirely out of character for many drivers. Do you release it? Just let it go. Really. What would happen if you didn’t react? Didn’t honk your horn? What would happen if you didn’t respond? Didn’t try to return the cut off favor? What would happen if you just calmly released it – and kept moving forward to your destination? In peace. You don’t have to let it get the better of you!
Remember that book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. And it’s all small stuff.”? It’s true. It truly is all small stuff. I mean, really, we’re not curing cancer here (except my friend, Dan. He’s trying to. But the rest of us, probably not so much). We live in a world of minor inconvenience. We also live in a world where some make a major event out of everything. And, in turn, have a not-so-great effect on others.
What makes someone more able to deal with difficult or unexpected situations? What gives one person the ability to shrug things off, while another flies through the roof at the slightest inconvenience?
Maybe it’s being positive. Maybe it’s having gone through extremely adverse situations. Maybe it’s just about resetting expectations.
We live in a stressed out world. We’re all trying to get there yesterday. We’re trying to do too many things at once. And finish the game before we ever start. We’re so caught up. So caught up in react and respond that it drives us crazy. And everyone else around us as well!
So the next time you’re confronted with a difficult situation, an unexpected challenge, try to be aware of your actions. Fight the urge to react. Fight the urge to respond. And see what you can do to release it. Let it go. And see what happens. I bet you’ll find yourself in a much more peaceful and happy place. And the more you do this, the easier it gets. It’s truly a learned skill. And the more you practice learning it, the better off you’ll be. With a better attitude, a better life and better relationships!