The Choice is Yours - Make it a good one

Have you ever made plans or tackled projects that didn’t turn out as you expected?

How do you react? I sometimes get defensive, which can show frustration or anger. And then, I label myself or my endeavor as a complete failure.


However, I have learned I can choose a different reaction. A good friend of mine introduced me to  psychology’s stimulus-response theory. In simple terms, the stimulus is a trigger, and the response is the reaction to it. But between those two words is a dash, which is the most essential part of the theory. It’s the small space where our choice about how to react resides. There are ways to make more positive reactions to unmet expectations than anger. Here are a few:


·     React with acceptance of the result you’re not pleased with. During my dad’s later life, when he faced an unpleasant outcome, he would sigh deeply and say, “It is what it is.” Then he would sigh again and get back to it.


·     Reflect on whether you might have been tied to the outcome of a particular project. Sometimes, we may meet a challenge as if there is only one answer or result. If you find yourself in that position, open yourself to other possibilities. Look at what you learned from the first try, and see what happens on the second. You might discover a better and more successful idea than your original one.


·     Always look for the positive. It might be challenging to do that initially. Unmet expectations can leave us distraught and disappointed. Sometimes those feelings are complicated to get over. It’s helpful if you can shift your perspective by changing what you focus on. For example, many who have dieted may not reach their goal-weight. But are they more conscious about what we eat? Are healthier eaters? In this case, it’s about more than the weight.


The following fable is an excellent example of how delightful making the right choice in that small space between a trigger and a reaction can be:


A farmer found a magical flute. Hoping to charm his hens into laying extra eggs, he played the flute to them all day, but at nightfall, he had no more eggs than usual. Later, when asked if he’d had any success, the farmer replied, “I sure did. It wasn’t much of a day for egg-laying, but it was a great day for music!


Whatever it is you’re going to do today, I hope it’s a great day for doing it. 


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