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Life Isn’t About What Happens To You, It’s About How You React To It

Life Isn’t About What Happens To You, It’s About How You React To It

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”

I am sure many of you would have encountered this famous quote by Charles R. Swindoll. Swindoll, who was born on October 18th, 1934, is an author and an educator. He emphasizes the importance of our attitudes in life, and how each morning when we wake up, we have a choice as to which attitude we will choose to embody that day.

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For Swindoll, attitudes are “more important than facts”, “more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes.” They are more important than what people think, say, or do, “than appearance, giftedness, or skill”. According to Swindoll, attitude can “make or break a company… a church… a home.”

Our attitudes shape our feelings, beliefs, and very often our behaviors. Our attitudes, whilst sometimes indifferent, are often either positive or negative. They play a big part in life – which at times can be immensely harsh. Things and events will happen over which we have no control.

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For some – they will accept the harsh reality of their situations, blaming their circumstances for their shortcomings. For them, the event and the outcome are seen as equivalent. They will make rash decisions, clouded by emotions. Decisions which they will regret later on.

For others, harsh realities are not accepted. These people are remarkable individuals. They succeed, despite. Despite what has happened to them, their past, and their difficulties. They overcome chronic diseases, disabilities, and human injustices (among others). They overcome despite adversity. Why?

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Because they recognize that they always have a choice as to what attitude they want to embody. Each and every day. They have a positive mentality, and a lot can be said for developing a positive mentality. For example, studies have shown that your perceptions of your age, have a direct impact on your life expectancy.

They also recognize that they have a choice as to how they react to everything that has happened in their past. They have control over their emotions. They overcome the odds, despite their situations.

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Consider the following examples:

  1. Jim Carrey, dropped out of school to support his family when he was 15, and at one point he was homeless living in a caravan. This did not stop him from achieving his dream of becoming a comedian.
  2. Bethany Hamilton’s arm was bitten off by a shark at age 13. She was back on her surfboard one-month later. Two years later she won first place in the Explorer Women’s Division of the NSSA National Championships
  3. Benjamin Franklin dropped out of school at the age of 10 as his parents could not afford the fees. This did not stop him from educating himself.
  4. Richard Branson has dyslexia. At school his grades were poor. Yet he has achieved mega success.
  5. Stephen Kings first novel was consistently rejected by publishing houses. His wife retrieved the manuscript, urged him to complete it. It has sold 350 million copies worldwide.
  6. Oprah Winfrey gave birth when she was 14, lost her child and ran away from home. She was also repeatedly molested by her cousin, uncle and family friend. She has achieved despite this.
  7. Thomas Edison failed a lot of times (there are debates that this figure is anywhere from 1000-10000 times) before he created the light bulb. Imagine the world without a light bulb?
  8. Kriss Karr was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 32. Instead of feeling sorry for herself she tackled the disease. She created a new nutritional lifestyle and created several self-help books and documentaries.
  9. Franklin Roosevelt was paralyzed from the waist down, at age 39. This did not stop him from leading his country.
  10. Charlize Theron at age 15, witnessed her own mother shoot her alcoholic father in an act of self-defence. This painful experience did not stop the actress from becoming the first South African actress to win an Academy Award.

Countless other examples exist, not only in terms of celebrities, but also in terms of people you may know personally.  The fact remains, these people recognize that life can be hard, things and events occur that are out of our control. But we always have a choice as to how we react.

And ultimately we are responsible for our own lives

“I am responsible. Although I may not be able to prevent the worst from happening, I am responsible for my attitude toward the inevitable misfortunes that darken life. Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain, and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.” -Walter Anderson

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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