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There are currently over 1.2 million people incarcerated in US penitentiaries. Out of those, the majority are there because they could not control their reaction within a certain situation, they were in.

One of the biggest differentiating factors between us and any animal species on the planet is our ability to choose how we respond to a certain stimulus. Or in short, our Response-Ability.

Consider the following scenario:

It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon. You are driving to the mall with a friend, enjoying your favorite music while sipping on a hot cup of coffee, when suddenly out of nowhere another driver cuts you off. You slam on the breaks, your coffee spills all over, your shirt and pants are stained, and you get filled with adrenaline as you realize just how close you came to hitting the car in front of you. How do you react?

Option #1: you can let your emotions, pride and ego take over and react to the other driver by either insulting him verbally, giving him a hand gesture, assaulting him physically or any combination of the above.

Option #2: You can recognize that this is one of life’s unpredictable tests, otherwise known as “forks in the road” and treat it as a personal growth opportunity. Remind yourself that the most important thing is that no one got hurt, and there was probably a good reason why the other driver cut you off and wish him to arrive at his destination safely, while you compose yourself.

Let’s analyze the potential outcome of both options:

With the 1st option, there is no telling how far the situation can escalate. What started out as an ordinary enjoyable drive to the mall can literally change your life – and not for the better

The 2nd option, will get you safely to your destination and enable you to go on with your day’s agenda while unbeknownst to you, strengthen the foundation of your character and inspire your friend.

Simply put, you cannot control external events, but you can control how you react to them. It is therefore imperative that we learn to control our reactions and consciously practice our Response-Ability as often as possible to make it second nature so that whenever life’s tests come up, we will trigger the correct response automatically.

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