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Acting beats reacting

04th December 2018

The other day I was walking to a meeting in Central London.  I was absorbed in my own thoughts when, suddenly, I heard an aggressive noise being made by a nearby driver repeatedly sounding his horn.

The excessive use of the horn and the unexpected sound startled and annoyed me.

As my state of mind shifted I became aware that my mood had changed and I was no longer absorbed in positive thoughts.

Urban living is often stressful and, without realising it, we can catch a mood from someone else.

After a couple of minutes, it occurred to me that I was “reacting” inside of me to the “actions” of the aggressive driver.

This prompted me to contemplate the word “react”.  This literally means to “re-act”.  In other words, when we react we repeat the actions of another.  Externally, we may do something different to the person we are reacting to, however, we are responding aggressively to aggression or impatiently to impatience.

We often recycle the behaviour of others.

Most of the time this state of reaction is so automatic we do not stop thinking about it.

We just react thinking we are acting.

However, to “act” means to think and examine your choices before doing anything.

Once the choices have been set out then action can be considered within a broader context, without the compulsion to continually recycle another person’s energy.

And, the secret of someone who has mastered this is that s/he appreciates that taking no action can, sometimes, be a powerful state of action.

Abraham Goldberg

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