Choose Well!

Today, I experienced a situation that was a prime example of how choosing your response to a given situation can effect how you feel about a given situation.

This morning, I went surfing with a friend of mine at La Jolla Shores. This surfing spot is characteristically crowded and frequently has surfers of a wide range of abilities. In general, if you get up set if there is someone “in the way” every time you paddle for a wave, you will most likely have a very frustrating surf session. If you surf within your ability and are aware of where everyone is in the lineup, you will more likely enjoy yourself.

For those unfamiliar with surfing, each wave has a “peak” where the wave starts to break. A surfer can choose to surf on the right, or on the left of the peak. On one of the waves that I was planning on paddling into, I clearly pointed right indicating that I was going right and I angled my board to the right so it was clear where I was going. As I stood up on the wave, a surfer who was to my right angrily shouted, “where are you going”? At this point I could choose to respond to this person by explaining to them that I had clearly communicated my intention and that it was all surfer’s responsibility to look both ways down a wave before taking off. The option that I choose was to let it go and keep surfing. Later in my surf sessions, a surfer with less experience got in my way on the inside of the wave causing me to cut out early. This surfer apologized for getting in the way. At this point, I could have chosen to angrily shout, “What are you doing?” Instead I choose to say, “no worries, it is all good” and we chatted for a while about the characteristics of the surf spot.

At the end of the session I felt great. I caught waves consistently. The water was warm and the surf was fairly consistent. By remembering to respond to others with forgiveness and understanding, I was able to remain in a calm, positive emotional space. However, there is an alternative reality of what could have happened. If I had initially chosen to respond to the angry surfer with anger, we would have had an angry exchange in the lineup. We would have both likely “bummed out” the surfers around us and the entire experience would have been defined by that anger. I would currently be writing a story about how inconsiderate other people can by and I would likely frame my role as either the “victim” or “hero”.

Choosing our reactions to situation can be one of the most important things that we control. How we choose to respond can significantly influence the others around us.

Choose well!

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4 Comments to “Choose Well!”

  1. What you write about here could be applied to so many things and I struggle with it lol! You did great and it is amazing what can happen when you choose a positive approach to situations like this instead of getting grumpy. When I’m over hungry, tired or too warm I can be a real bear about things when walking the dog, driving, shopping or being in a place with a lot of people. I have to remember that other people have just as much right to be in a place as I do…just get frustrated when they aren’t as polite or respectful as I choose to be.

  2. Responding is like teaching, responding negatively will teach the world to be negative and pro-long negativity. Responding positive even through tough times and bad moments can rub off the bad things in life and turn them into good (smiles, laughter, well being, peace). I have smiled at many people in passing even the ones who i knew did not overparticular like me on initial impression or those who made mistakes around me. I know that life is a place full of mistakes happening all the time, losing ones head can be really pointless and unproductive and will not help. On the flip side for every time you are positive in these situations you make more friends than enemies, with every calm and positive response one makes there will be more positive and calm in the world.

    Good post Andrew.

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