How do you react to someone walking into the room seething with anger? Or in fact how do you react to other equally negative situations?
A) Are you reactive by giving them control of how you feel and your state of mind?
B) Or are you proactive by choosing how you react, instead of simply responding to others?
Not easy I know but perhaps a more positive and constructive way forward. You may know the following quote which first inspired me when I saw it on a Sinead O’Connor album – it turns out to be called the Serenity Prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr…
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.
This always makes me think of the ‘founder’ of Taosim, Lao Tzu, who talked about the story of the water and the rock which demonstrates that water needs to get past the rock but it doesn’t smash its way through it like an angry person would regardless of any damage it may cause, it simply goes round the rock. Without damage and you could argue that it does so with consideration as it leaves the rock to do its rock ‘thing’. It still manages to get past. Both water and rock are happy.
In Taoism, this is called ‘Wu Wei’ which means something like Effortless Action – somebody once described it as ‘getting stuff done without doing stuff’.
So in potentially challenging situations, think of what you could achieve if you were the water…
If you want to find out more about Taoism and ‘Wu Wei’, I’d suggest reading:
– ‘The Tao Of Pooh’ by Benjamin Hoff
– the ‘Tao Te Ching’ by Lao Tzu
– the Bean Curd Boxer blog