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Response to tense times most telling

This is such a hectic time of the year, and it is easy to feelfrazzled with all of the decorating, shopping lists to complete andsocial events. Not to mention, the culmination of all the planningand preparing is coming up very quickly.

I was given an excellent piece of parenting advice several yearsago from a friend: “choose to respond and not to react.”

To respond implies that some thought and consideration went intothe situation. To react implies more of a knee-jerk thoughtlessresponse.

I have found that attempting to put this into practice actuallyworks very well in dealing with not just parenting, but also theday-to-day stresses and inconveniences that we run into everyday.

However, the decision to respond instead of react has comeparticularly difficult for me, and is something that I strugglewith daily. I find that the busier I am, the more I have to remindmyself to respond and not react.

By nature, I am a very organized and timely person – some wouldcall it type A personality – tending to be more focused andimpatient than the more relaxed of people. Add to the mix oneparticularly strong-willed and precocious child who can punch mybuttons faster than a stenographer on caffeine, and you have theperfect recipe for me to be a (nuclear) reactor instead of aresponder.

That said, I have found that making a conscious decision to respondpositively has made potentially uncomfortable circumstancesactually very pleasant.

For example, after waiting in a very long and slow line to make apurchase recently, I made a point of smiling and chatting nicelywith the cashier. She expressed her surprise at my lightheartedattitude, after dealing with a series of irritated customers.

My response was that the time was going to pass regardless. I couldchoose to pass it unhappy and frustrated, or I could pass it in agood mood. It was my decision.

We both came away from the transaction in a better mood – herbecause she was treated kindly, and me because I could see therelief in her eyes.

We don’t realize the impact that we have on the people we come intocontact with daily, simply by choosing our response to them. Eventhe smallest smile, frown, calming word, or verbal snap can have alasting impression on the people we deal with.

Like dropping the proverbial stone in the pond, the ripples arefelt by everyone they come into contact with, whether a good orbad.

It’s so easy to become tightly focused when the pressure is on,causing us to not realize that we are functioning at the reactinglevel. I find that taking a deep breath, and making the consciousdecision to slow down helps me to back out my overly tight focusand be aware of how I am responding to others.

This holiday season, let’s all make the same decision when the heatis on. Christmas is on its way – and it will be here regardless ofall lists being checked off, the perfect tree flawlessly decorated,or the ultimate meal prepared.

In the end, it’s the people involved and the message of Christmasthat lingers. I hope everyone has a wonderful, happy Christmasseason.

Oh yes, only 21 more days till Christmas.

No pressure though.

Lifestyles Editor Rachel Brumfield can be reached at The DAILYLEADER at 601-833-6961 ext 134, by e-mail atlifestyles@dailyleader.com or you can write to her at P.O. Box 551,Brookhaven MS 39602.