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How Do You Respond to Your Circumstances?

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it. This is a really valuable life principle, says the author Charles R. Swindoll. Think about it.

Imagine this situation.

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Suppose that it’s 7 in the morning, and you have an appointment by 9 AM. But you still need to take your son to school before 8 AM. So you take a quick shower, get dressed, and rush downstairs for breakfast. Unfortunately, your son tips over your cup of coffee and all of it spills on your perfectly good shirt.

There are two ways you can respond to what happened:

  1. Yell at your son and be irate
  2. Change to a new shirt and move on


Let’s see what would happen in both responses.

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If you do #1 and yell at your son, chances are he’ll cry. Your wife may even get mad at you for blaming your son. An argument ensues, and later on you’ll realise your son will be late to school. Because you’re feeling properly aggravated, chances are you’ll drive more aggressively. More so since your son will be late to school. After you drop him off, you then realise you could run late for your 9 AM appointment. So you keep on driving aggressively to get there as fast as you can. But then, your aggressive driving leads you to an accident. In turn, you won’t make it to your appointment.

Terrible. But what happens if you choose #2?

Well, right after the coffee has spilled, you just tell your son to be more careful next time. You walk up back to your room, change into a new shirt, and get on with what you have to do. This only takes a few minutes, so there’s no reason to be in a hurry. You drive more carefully, and you get your son to school early. That, in turn, gives you enough time to make it to your 9 AM appointment. No need to rush in your driving, and soon enough, you get there early.


The outcomes are clear.

Though both situations are made up, you get the idea of how your attitude towards your circumstances in life can influence the things that happen to you next. Responding positively to bad circumstances will keep you level-headed, and you’ll be less likely to make things worse. On the other hand, responding to them negatively will cloud your judgment. Negative emotions will preclude you from thinking clearly. In turn, you’ll make bad decision after bad decision, and nearly everything will spiral out of control.

Thinking Man

In short, a negative attitude is a key ingredient for a bad day.

Instead, treat those unpleasant circumstances as learning experiences. Just like failures, the bad things that occasionally happen to you are there to teach you something. As long as your attitude is in the right place, you can benefit from even the bad circumstances.



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