Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Grace or indignation...your response makes a difference

Encounters happen everyday, with loved ones, colleagues, friends and strangers -- I think it is called, life. We have all had incidents that caused us to question ourselves on how we responded at the time.  You know what I mean...those encounters that provoked a strong response...either positive or negative...grace or indignation. 

Definition:  a kindly feeling of approval and support; benevolent interest or concern; cheerful consent; willing effort.  (M.Webster Dictionary)

Goodwill...what a very powerful word. I think it is so beneficial to question ourselves about the environment our actions or reactions generate. You may ask, "Why"?  Because within our responses, lies the power to create an environment of support and encouragement (grace) or generate tension and escalate anger or feelings of hurt and discouragement (indignation). 

Around our house, we put a pretty big emphasis on tolerance and trying to understand where the other person is coming from.  For example:  The really grumpy store clerk might be caring for an aging parent and three small children and working two part-time jobs. (your smile in the face of his or her indifference or rudeness, could generate some hope or just help that person feel better).  Or, your significant other had a horrible, tension-filled day at work and isn't in the best of moods.  Your decision not to jump on him/her about something he/she did or didn't do for you, could generate a peaceful atmosphere -- and your partner actually has time to recover from the indignity's of the day. 

We don't know everything about the trials or difficulties someone experiences -- even in our own families.  We don't go to work with our husbands, wives or partners.  We don't go into the classrooms with our kids.  Stuff goes on everyday.  What do we know?  We know that we govern how we treat other people.  Each one of us determines whether we dispense grace or indignation in our daily encounters.  

Don't get me wrong, there have been plenty of times when my reactions were more concerned with pride and holding on to my right to be right.  Funny how hanging on to your own so-called "rights" (hmm, I think that is actually called self-righteousness) can end up becoming a lesson in humility. And, how does the lesson happen?  It takes place when we question ourselves about our actions or reactions or in actions, rather than going, "la, la, la...merrily on our way."   It might be referred to as a "teachable moment," that is, if we are willing.  It happens when we make a conscious effort (care enough) to question our behavior toward other people. 

Oh, man, I can see red when someone is a thoughtless or aggressive driver.  I have learned to let that go...I govern my own response to the actions of others.  I can react with anger and frustration, or not.  In that situation I can actually think this thought, "You, stupid, jerk...I hope blah, blah, blah."  Or, I can think this thought, "Take care of yourself, buddy -- you are better than this."  Big difference, huh?  And, you know what?  I have discovered an added benefit, I am not angry or frustrated.  Hoorah

Do we realize the power we have to defuse a situation that has turned ugly?  Do we have an attitude of tolerance and kindness ready and waiting to be used?  Do we need...or rather, must we always be right?  You remember that quote from the bible about treating other people how you would like to be treated?  Yeah, the power to generate goodwill in the lives of all the people you encounter -- friends, family, strangers, colleagues -- has a lot to do with thinking along those lines.  My gosh, we all have enough of our own burdens to carry without adding a load to the other guy's.

Give out daily doses of's really good medicine.  It heals the hurts of others, and strangely enough, our own, too.

With respect,
Thank you to Rice Agency for the use of the beautiful photo!
It is rare to see this many blooms at one time on a domestic cactus.  This particular cactus is from a cutting that belonged to my great, great, grandmother in Georgia.  My grandmother brought a cutting with her when she came to California and our family has enjoyed the quiet beauty of it for years.  This year, the blooms joyfully exploded.



  1. Professor Michael Mastagni, Chapman UniversityJune 11, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    I have to work constantly at not reacting to stupidity on the freeways here in south Orange County. The scary thing is that I have contributed to this in my own actions which I now own up to after reading Diana's blog. I have been trying the three thousand rule---one thousand, two thousand, three thousand then I respond instead of react instantaneously. Amazing what happens when you use your head instead of your moouth.

  2. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for your comment! With all the construction going on Rosedale Hwy I get to practice reasoned response quite often. I like the three thousand rule -- it gives you time to consider how you want to react, rather than blind behavior. I think your rule applies to lots of areas -- more than driving!

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