Whether we like it or not, we are currently living more isolated lives, and for some people a life of solitude. There’s massive disruption. When the world faces a global pandemic, we all have important decisions to make. Some of these are reactive and some of these are responsive. A friend of mine, Joshua Hook, explains the difference really well:
- Reacting is fast; responding is slow. When I react, I do it right away. It’s a quick decision, a snap judgment. When I respond, I take my time. It’s a slower process. There is some time and space between my urge to act and my action.
- Reacting is unconscious; responding is conscious. When I react, it’s almost as if there’s something unconscious pushing me toward a certain direction. I don’t do much thinking about it. When I respond, it’s a conscious process. I weigh my options and then move forward.
- Reacting is extreme; responding is balanced. When I react, I tend to go to extremes. I do something and do it all the way. Sometimes I even go overboard. When I respond, it’s usually more balanced. I might take a small step in one direction and then see how it goes.
- The choice to react happens in my own head; responding often involves other people. When I react, I don’t get any feedback from others. There isn’t enough time, I just make a decision and go with it. When I respond, I often have the chance to ask other people in my life what they think. I’m able to get feedback and incorporate it into my response.
Now is the time for slow and simple living. It’s a time and a great opportunity to pause or even reset—to take some time to think about the situation and what you want to do. We can create new routines and habits. We can make time to learn. We can make time to communicate when distraction prevented us. We can ask more questions. We can better appreciate how to contribute to society. We can care for our loved ones more deeply. We can better appreciate the importance of exercise and our physical well-being. We can find calm in the middle of a storm.
For some people, life is now about living with less. Not out of choice, but out of necessity. For others, it’s an opportunity to simplify and appreciate the things previously taken for granted—like time (not toilet paper). And for everyone, it’s a time for calmness, compassion, and contribution.