Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Life of Consideration

It's not often that I have an immediate reaction—besides laughter—to much of anything. I typically need time to reflect before I respond. Not long ago, though, I received a message that elicited an immediate feeling. The impulsive, childish side of me wanted to snap back. I wanted my words to be so cunning that the receiver wouldn't even know just how cleverly cold they were until a day later. Essentially, I wanted to offend at a level even higher than the one I felt was intended for me.

Between work, community events, children's activities, family obligations, and household needs, we are in contact with others constantly. The majority of us risk delivering unkind words, even if we feel justified, without leaving our home. However, feeling justified does not equate to being the right thing to do. Being kind is the ultimate just act, especially when kindness is the last characteristic you want to exude.

Everyone you encounter, from a coworker, parking attendant, your child's teacher, a relative, to a cashier in a grocery store is carrying more than you know. They have sources of joy and sources of heartache. They have felt love and felt hate. They have had countless experiences prior to their interaction(s) with you and will have many more after you. Before you repay rudeness with more rudeness consider the value of that exchange. Your reaction to one negative encounter could fuel someone's belief that he is insignificant and that people are unkind. Your reaction, as minor as you may think it is, could confirm to someone that life is not worth living. Your reaction to a person's inability to cope with his/her circumstances may not reveal your true character, but it can lead you to getting increasingly comfortable living a life of reaction rather than consideration.

I could have spread the negativity. I could have engaged in behavior that did not coincide with my character. I could have wasted energy—and it certainly would have been a waste—coming up with a hurtful response to receive a temporary sense of shallow satisfaction. When I considered the repercussions—spreading negativity, acting outside of my character, and wasting energy—it was clear that the only appropriate and most important response was not to respond.

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