In our last post, we left off with my reasons for favoring the Wait And Think approach as opposed to the Simply React approach. To see the whole post from last week, please click this link: The Two General Actions.
Everything in life demands some sort of reaction from us. These reactions with which we respond are all on one very large spectrum of possibilities. But, to keep things simple, we’ll just say that you can either have a very good, thoughful response to something, or a response that potentially results in disaster.
Every day is a new day, and with those new days come new choices, new opportunities. We can either choose to immediately react to whatever is going on around us based primarily on instinct, or we can wait and think of a more appropriate action within our capabilities.
I’ve always found that when I’m needing improvement in an area, it’s easiest for me to improve myself once I’ve fully identified the parts of myself that are lacking. This is why I typically have you examine yourself in each post to identify if you have any areas that could be improved.
So, with that being said, I’d like you to take a moment here to identify which of these two categories you typically fall into.
- A car accident happens near you, you instantly run towards the vehicle, hoping to help whomever was involved,
- You see someone bleeding nearby and rush over towards them to assist.
- Your computer starts to become slow and you simply replace it with a new one (or throw it against a wall)
- The lights in one of your rooms are consistently dying so you go out and buy new bulbs to replace them every time they go.
- A fire starts in your kitchen and you don’t have a fire extinguisher (you should get one). You throw water onto the flames.
Wait, and Think
- A car accident happens near you. Looking at the vehicle, you notice that the engine is on fire. After calling 911, you proceed more aware of the dangerous situation in which you may get involved should you choose to assist.
- You see someone bleeding nearby. Before you rush over to assist the person, you notice that there is a large group of people running away from the bleeding person. This alerts you to a dangerous situation. With this knowledge, you can now make a decision as to what to do. If you had simply run over there without looking or thinking, you could have potentially become another victim.
- Your computer starts to slow down. As you think about your recent computer usage, you realize that it’s been awhile since you’ve cleaned your computer and, consulting the internet, you find numerous ways to increase the speed of your computer without spending any money. Even if you do need to spend money, you’re able to keep the total costs low (unless your computer really has reached its end).
- The lights in one of your rooms are constantly dying. After replacing the lights about two times in two weeks, you notice that it only seems to happen when other people are using electricity in the house. Instead of wasting money constantly replacing the lights, you’re able to realize that your room has faulty wiring that can be both costly and dangerous if not tended to promptly.
- A fire starts in your kitchen. You don’t have a fire extinguisher. (Again, get one! The benefits far outweigh the cost!) Because this fire happened in the kitchen – possibly in a pan – it is possible that the fire is a grease fire. Considering that putting water on an active grease fire causes an explosion, that would not be smart. You’re not sure that it’s a grease fire, but to be careful, you assume that it is. You find a metal pan or lid or something to smother the fire, cutting off the oxygen and extinguishing the fire.
I made a point to use the exact same examples with two entirely different responses. These situations are obviously more on the extreme side, and these responses are not the only options. So please, apply these to yourself as you are best able. The point is to identify which of the two actions you are most likely to take. To those of you who would typically give your reaction a moment of thought before you simply react, some of these examples may seem silly. But people do simply react all the time. It’s not always bad to react, and doing so does potentially take care of a problem much faster. The important part to remember, though, is that the fast solution is not always the right one. When you react instantly to a situation, you lose vital time to assess it. For the small amount of time that you lose when you give yourself pause to think, you might potentially save lives. (I am currently training to become a paramedic, and one of our basic lessons is that you must always take time to asses, no matter how dire the situation. Yes, time is a factor, but without proper assessment, you could further endanger the patient.) For your day to day problems, you’ll be much more likely to actually solve your problem instead of creating a bigger issue and/or prolonging the original one.
After reading the previous post and now the post from today, I’d like you to really ask yourself; do you react instantly, without any thought, driven exclusively by instinct? Or do you wait and think of the most you appropriate action to take?
Don’t do double work, don’t put someone else at risk. Think about what you’re doing before you do it. If you’re able to assess before you react in everyday situations, your life will be greatly improved. It isn’t just your actions that can get you into trouble when you react instinctively. The same goes for the words you choose to say and how you say them. Thinking for just a few seconds can help tremendously in nearly all situations, such as:
- Controlling Anger
- Avoiding Conflicts
- Saving someone’s life
- Avoiding a car accident
- Choosing the right path
- Knowing when you’ve met “The One”
- Accepting a job
- Knowing when to say no to a job
Be kind, do something nice for a stranger today.