In times of trouble, or when trouble looms large, it is natural for us to get under the ‘fight-or-flight’ umbrella and react. This response mode is certainly useful in times of serious peril — not for run-of-the-mill pressure situations. The former can save us our life, while the latter can cause more damage than good. One prime example is yelling at your wife, or children. This is primarily a result of stress, or pressure — it can get us into a jumble when not curbed. What happens next is our basic resolve not to explode — but to stay calm — tumbles downhill. It is keeping cool against a raging storm is what separates us from other living creatures. Besides, we are also endowed with a conscience — the ability to separate right from wrong. We will all do well if only we act, and not react, when stressed in day-to-day situations, which don’t carry the tag of direct danger, or risk to life.
Most psychologists and philosophers urge us to count up to ten, or take a few deep breaths, or sips of water, or remain still, until we balance, or streamline, our emotional agitation. The reason is simple. When we respond suitably in moments of stress, we set an example for ourselves. In other words, we are fully capable of turning the table from chaos to harmony — if only we want to. It is all within us — it is up to us to select the best course of action. Try to be as cool as a cucumber, or hiss like the pressure cooker. The choice is yours. Agreed that the ability to think and act calmly requires mental preparation — not idiosyncrasies. When we don’t hold our nerve, we will be left with a muddle to scour with an angry mop.
While it is only human to err, it would be more human and practical to assume responsibilities. We should aim at things that we can comfortably handle. Or, refine our ability to say ‘no’ like a child. The problem is we are often inclined to say ‘yes’ — even when we know that things are not what they appear to be on the surface. Or, when a specific task is not what we’d finish in a flash. Quality work takes time. You just can’t build castles in the air at the ‘idea’ of a thought. It takes a dream; also, measured action.
All of us are naturally bestowed with the gift of free will and the capacity to make choices in every aspect of our lives. But, at the backside of free will there is a need to accept accountability for the choices we make. What does this signify? We need to aim at meaningful choices and not make hasty or bad decisions. When the latter happens — that is, when our choices gone awry — bitterness is not far behind. Your best motto should always be, “I must think before I ‘jump the gun’ of a hurried thought.”
This is where simple wisdom plays a pivotal role. It helps us to build character, while dispelling fear, guilt and frustration. Put simply, plain wisdom emanates from well-founded information — not gliding ‘head-on’ into situations. Understanding what is can be just as good as thinking in advance. It can save us from embarrassment. We should all monitor our behaviour in situations that trigger disquiet, while appreciating what course would best serve our purpose. If we are reacting to things too quickly, or impulsively, we’d try to get into the practice of pausing. This will help us to act ahead and not react at the drop of a thought.