I recently met my professor (who was also head of the department) when I went to India after a long time since I came to USA. I invited him for dinner at a good restaurant on the beach side. My professor was very happy to see one of his old students after a long time.
Our conversations covered a wide range of topics ranging from our department growth to spirituality. While expressing his ideas about spirituality, my professor said something that made a strong impression on my mind. He said “We do not have to react immediately according to our feelings. For example, when we get angry, we need not express our anger as how majority of people do. It is in our choice how we want to react to the things that happen to us”.
I kept pondering and reflecting on his words. I felt there was tremendous truth in this statement. When I was going to bed that night, I still kept thinking about those words. I remembered the words implied the same meaning as what I read in one of Stephen Covey’s books, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.”
You might be going through a terribly tough time now. You might have just lost your closed ones, or you might have gotten fired from that job, or your colleagues are giving you a hard time, or you might be in massive debts. The ordinary person always goes by his/her feelings. Instead of succumbing to your negative feelings for the situation, ask yourself, ‘What’s the end result of this for me?’
Whenever I am faced with an ‘ego-hurting’ situation or rough behavior from other people, I say to myself ‘Wait a minute! This world has been tough to many great people like Gandhi. When people like Gandhi got humiliated, what is the big deal about me? I am no big deal’. This thought gives me a lot of comfort.
It is wiser to spend time in solitude when overwhelmed with negative emotions (anger, anxiety, depression, fear) than trying to prove something immediately.
Our actions portray our beliefs. Many people believe and say ‘This unfortunate incident happened because of my past life's karma’. The great news is - no, it isn’t. It either happened due to the consequences of your own actions or someone’s actions in this life. Or it just happened. That’s it. If it is because of your past life's karma, what about your first life? What resulted to bring you on this earth in your first life?
At any point in your life, there are always options for you. Certain options lead to destruction whereas certain others lead to constructive path. You ALWAYS have the choice to embrace the constructive path.
Take time and think about what to do next (or not to do). Blame no one. Fear no one.