Every action incites a reaction.
That’s true whether in life, in business, striving for a certain level of fitness or other goals, or anything else in life.
The concept of action/reaction probably goes all the way back to high school physics classes for most of us, although the phenomenon was intrinsic long before that.
In fact, it was Sir Isaac Newtown who famously said, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”
This week, that fundamental truth of the universe was tested for me.
In a not-altogether pleasant exchange, my actions lead to a vehement reaction from my counterpart. The situation was in jeopardy of escalating, and the escalating encounter could have gone a number of different ways.
“The excessive increase of anything causes a reaction in the opposite direction.” -Plato
However, I did have enough foresight to recognize that all of this wasn’t just on them. In fact, if the tables were turned, I might react the same way, or similarly.
And then it occurred to me, with our constant dance of action-reaction in life, as we inefficiently push and pull our way through our interpersonal encounters, there is one more huge facet to that equation:
Instead of just focusing on our actions or even responding to their reactions, why not zoom out and instead start with the outcome we desire?
“Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change – this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.” -Bruce Barton
So, instead of reacting to their reaction to my action (and on and on), I took another approach. Realizing that a respectful resolution was the best outcome, I updated our equation and acted accordingly.
The result? A positive outcome – for both of us.
The lesson I take from this is that not every one of our reactions needs to be an explosion. Our uncomfortable or even outright contentious encounters don’t need to be a tug of war of wills.
Make no mistake about it, sometimes there IS a time for a firm and definitive response.
But most of the time, by consciously envisioning the outcome we want and not being reactionary, we achieve much better outcomes, peace of mind, and a refreshing semblance of harmony in our lives.
“The whole thing of life and all the answers to everything are in one divine law, Karma action and reaction.” -George Harrison