OUR REACTION - A BOAT WHICH IS GOING AGAINST THE CURRENT





Pic.: Chetna Shetty

Since the time I woke up this morning, a thousand things were happening in my life, and they were happening in all directions. And, yes, I was finding myself reacting – irritated, angry, yelling and even depressed. It went on for quite some time, this morning… just like how Victor Hugo had described:

“Reaction - a boat which is going against the current
but which does not prevent the river from flowing on.”

Yes, right in the midst of my reactions – my attempts to row my boat against this  flow of river called LIFE – yes, right in the midst of my frantic attempts, I realized that I was not in control… that, I was not responding to situations and challenges in my life… but, I was only reacting. That, I had lost hold on myself – I had lost the personal leadership.

What a phrase – ‘Personal Leadership’! Being in charge of myself… Being in control of my affairs… Being able to respond effectively to my life-situations… Yes, the definition of Personal Leadership’ was as simple and as cool as that!

Right then, I chose to let go my reactive behavior… my boat-rowing against the current of river called Life. In fact, all that I had to do was to watch my own reactive behavior – my irritation, anger, yelling and depression. Yes, when I was able to watch it without condemning myself, I could feel the inner strength, the silence… the peace.

True, there ‘is’ a space between the ‘stimulus’ and ‘response’… what happens to me and how I respond to it… yes, there is a ‘space’, a ‘gap’ as Stephen Covey had said famously.  I could also see – like a clear blue sky – what Covey had meant when he had talked about two kinds of leadership: Personal Leadership and Public Leadership. And, yes, when he had referred to two kinds of victories in life: ‘Private Victory’ and ‘Public Victory’.

Being able to respond to frantic situations in my life is my Personal Leadership… my Private Victory. Till I am able to achieve it, there is no hope for my Public Leadership… my Public Victory…

Life means constant challenges. I cannot afford to keep reacting… It won’t help me. It will make me only a weak soul. So, how effectively I am able to live is always decided by how effectively I am able to respond to challenges in my life. Yes, it depends on how effectively I am able to draw on my inner strength. Dalai Lama, whose entire life has been spent wresting with the choice - to react or to respond to mighty challenges in life – had, once, said:

“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways –
either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits,
or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.
Thanks to the teachings of Buddha,
I have been able to take this second way.”


GERALD D’CUNHA

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