Living Consciously Vs Reactionary Living

When you live in a busy city, things tend to happen very fast. Whether you cause them to happen, or whether they happen to you, either way, time becomes a precious commodity.

Because there is always so much going on along with the perception that there is less time to do it in, we can often become very reactionary i.e, we we almost lose the ability to think before we act.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Vicktor Frankl

The famous quote above tells that we do have a choice but if we offer ourselves the opportunity and the gift of time to consciously choose then our reactions and habits will take over.

Lets look at this more closely and use an analogy.

You have somewhere you need to go. It’s 30 minutes away and you only have 20 minutes to get there. Already you’ve set yourself up for disaster. It means you’re going to be rushed, you’re going to be driving by the seat of your pants to make it there in time.

That means you’re going to take chances, perhaps jump the odd red light, maybe even cut some over drivers off, not thinking about their journey, just that yours is a priority.

You’ll be taking risks, reacting to everything and to top it off, you’ll arrive at your destination not feeling too good because of the stress of trying to make it there in time.

Lets reverse the situation, you have somewhere to be. It is 20 minutes away and you have allowed yourself 30 minutes to get there. You can cruise on your journey and even enjoy all the sights and sounds.

You don’t have to try and jump any of the lights, you even have the time to let some drivers go ahead of you. If you encounter a bit of traffic you won’t be too concerned. You arrive peacefully and relaxed. You were consciously able to make better decisions, all because the PACE of your journey was totally different.

And that word is the key. PACE. Living in a city is not easy to change the pace of our lives but if we plan better, and allow more time, then we would be able to live more consciously and not just constantly reacting to the events that occur around us.

Furthermore, have you ever noticed the uncanny amount of green lights you get when you have more time? (And vice versa!)

Living in the city, I notice straight away how much more peaceful and relaxed people are who from outside the city. In fact, it’s usually the first thing I notice. They’re even better drivers than city dwellers.

Country people will often even comment on how people who come from the city are barely able to sit still and just kick back.

To stop being the kind of person that lives very reactionary to unfolding events and rather be someone who lives more consciously, you need to take a good look at your pace of life and how you fill your time.

Do you actually schedule in chill time for yourself? Or is your calendar so full that you barely have the time to take a dump?

Give yourself time. Allow yourself to have a window of comfort. Just because you get invited to three different events on the same day, it doesn’t mean that you have spread yourself so thin and get to all of them and hardly enjoy them while you’re there because you’re thinking about the next one you have to get to.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with short-cuts.

To keep from being a person who is always living in reaction to events, give yourself time, when you do that you’ll have more time, your pace will slow and between the stimulus and response you’ll be able to make more wise, and conscious decisions.

“No one can see their reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.” – Taoist Proverb

51 Responses

  1. Milan Bakrania says:

    It’s so true! That short millisecond between a stimulus and response is the key to it all. That space can create wars, promote peace, alter the course of the very world, or even help decide whether its gonna be a McDonald’s or a Subway! : ) From the smallest detail to the biggest dream, it’s all about that short space in time! As for that last quote about self-reflection, outstanding!

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Same here, I love that final quote! It’s true!

      Funnily enough, after writing this piece I did exactly that…I reacted, but I’ve learned, taken some time to really think about it and hopefully it might equip me to respond better should a similar situation arise!

      (P.S. looking forward to your exhibition!)

  2. Lisa H. says:

    Reactionary living is so draining, stressful and often leads to things being forgotten or missed. Lately I have been living this way and it has been driving me crazy. I am using this weekend to get back on top of my life. Slowing down and saying “no” are essential to living consciously.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey Lisa,

      It is so very draining. I used the example of traffic as it such a true representation of life. I was driving recently and in the former scenario, late and so stressed out because I didn’t give myself that time.

      When I do give myself that time, I’m just so much more relaxed and able to enjoy life and appreciate everything as it happens.

  3. Mahavir says:

    I like this alot man, gotta slow things down! City life can be crazy!

  4. Jonas says:

    Hi Amit,

    thanks for a marvelous post.
    We so often get very stressed about things we cannot change. And on the other hand we will then have expended so much energy on those occasions, that we can do much less when we actually get the chance…

    I recently attended a training by Joseph O’Connor and he brought up a really fascinating point:

    He made a differentiation between involvement and attachment. I think this difference is also very relevant to your points above. By involvement he means the ability to affect a situation, while attachment means how much the outcome affects you. It’s a different way to look at being “at cause” or “at effect” of a situation.

    The goal should then be to be maximally involved yet minimally attached. Like in playing chess, the players give their all in the game, but remain calm and courteous outside.

    Jonas

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey Jonas, wonderful points and especially those about involvement and attachment and how true they are. It’s like the forcing of an outcome or allowing things to unfold. Then forcing is stressful, painful, and disappointing. Whereas allowing things to unfold naturally is enjoyable, even sometimes when the outcome isn’t to our liking, but because we’ve released that control, we feel so much more relaxed. Thanks again for your contribution.

  5. Dehlia says:

    I love the quotes about space and still waters. The ideas in this post are very true and nice words to live by. I’ll try to remember this next time I’m rushing to work!

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey Dehlia, I do love that quote too, it’s now one of my favorites. Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts and let me know how it works out for you, changing your pace on your way to work. 🙂

  6. J.D. Meier says:

    Beautiful quotes and proverbs.

    I’m a fan of creating space and taking a look from the balcony.

    I’ve found that if I can set my sites on three wins for the day, then it’s easier to respond vs. react, the rest of the day. It gives me a way to balance the incoming against what I want to accomplish.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey JD, I don’t know if you ever saw a video I posted once, from a balcony, in india, where I was just hypnotised by all that was going on. It’s like taking a birds eye view of your own existence and becoming more ready to respond. Your comment reminded me of that video. I’ll have to dig it out and show it to you.

  7. Each of us carries inside a little bit of everyone and everything we have ever come in contact with throughout our life. Every encounter provides information, knowledge. The option to gain value from each encounter is only missed if we do not take notice.

    We often think of events in our lives as happening to us, not for us. Life is not happening to us, life is responding to us. Life is a process, not an event. We are simply here to experience. The interpretation of that experience is key to our evolution. This very reason is why living a fully conscious life is vital.

    We must always look for our own responsibility in the moment. As humans, we are more likely to place blame outside of ourselves and project our frustrations onto others.

    Each moment has purpose. The seemingly average moments make up our lives. They make up the experience. We often make choices without ever even contemplating the impact they may have on others, but we also make choices without realizing the impact they have on ourselves. Lessons are meant to be learned. When we learn a lesson, it adds to the evolution of consciousness, which in turn also helps us individually. Once we begin to live in an aware or awakened state, we learn how to interpret our experiences and discover our lessons.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hi Elaine, thank you for those words and very well spoken. I whole heartedly agree. It like the moments that take our breath away, are we actually open to them and paying attention to them? So much wonder can come from that time of paying attention and living with the conscious attitude.

  8. Dear Amit, thx for this wonderful post. I do hate to catch myself in a reactionary state. I’m still working on this. And yes, I do find it difficult to allow myself time to rest. There are always so many things to do… :-O Michaela

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey MIchaela, you and me both! I still do this, but I’m steadily paying more attention to those moments where I react over consciously give myself time to respond…it’s just a fun practise with so many applications. Great to connect with you! x

  9. Christy says:

    I consider this post as a perfect reminder on how to make use and enjoy time. Thank you so much.

  10. R says:

    I like this post about slowing down sometimes and taking time to just pause from the busyness of everyday living!! not just that but sometimes my mind feels like a traffic jam with thoughts all over the place, filled with lots of different ideas, ambitions, the future, the past, lots of planning and analysing, debating etc… i like to take pauses at times in order to even write down what im thinking so i can put things into perspective and it helps get rid of confussing ideas and thoughts… but i find that after a period of relaxtion, im more focussed in getting on with every day life! 🙂

  11. R says:

    I think as with learning any new process from the beggining it takes time to learn. So its all about taking small steps, which makes you feel why is this process taking sooo long! But perserverance, and patience is everything-You will see things come into fruitation after sometime. The results arent so fast but it does happen in time.. 🙂

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