Think back to the last time you were hospitalised, in order to cure some medical problem which had arisen. It might have been for some minor operation, or for major surgical intervention. Your hospitalisation could have lasted a day, a week, a month.
Remember the constant pain, the frustration of your confinement to a hospital bed, the never ending medical examinations by doctors and nurses.
How did all of that affect you? Did it reduce you to misery, depression, a constant railing against your infirmities? Hospitals have that effect on some people – they end their period of hospitalisation with emotional scars as noticeable as the operation wounds.
Or was your period of hospitalisation not that traumatic? Did the knowledge that the medical problem was being cured make the pain more endurable? Did you use your days to read, or listen to music? Did you cherish hospital visits from loved ones and work colleagues?
How is it that two patients, suffering from the same disease and going through the same treatment, can often react so differently to their treatment? The one will be traumatised and miserable, and the other’s mind-set will be something like that described in the previous paragraph?
Same bodies, same illness, same treatment, same hospital, but a completely different reaction from the two.
It’s all in the reaction, you see. Not in what happens to you but how your mind, spirit and attitude is influenced as a result of that happening. Your reaction will determine whether a particular event will leave you poorer, more fearful, carrying a greater amount of anger inside of you, or whether you will learn and grow therefrom.
What I have said above about the two hospital patients applies in hundreds of other life situations. The argument at work, the stupid driver who cut into your lane in the traffic queue, the unhelpful shop attendant, the bickering relatives, the kids who just won’t knuckle down and do their homework even though there is an important exam ahead – all of these require some reaction from you and it is your reaction which will determine the effect that a particular event will have on you.
We too frequently and easily assume that our reaction is something over which we have no control. The opposite is normally true. Our reaction, in any given situation, is governed by our thoughts and thoughts are whatever we allow them to be. We are, accordingly, able to acquire the habit of stepping back, breathing deeply and thinking about how we’re going to react to whatever has cropped up on the horizon. Will we respond rationally, maturely, in a balanced fashion? Will we fly off the handle, flee, fight, throw a tantrum? Will we allow our higher or lower self to take control? The options available cover a wide spectrum – which one we choose is up to us.