Action/Reaction: Failure in 2012 and What to Do About It

Hot-Oil-fire

“You will not be judged on what people do to you, but how you react.”–Anonymous

On my bad days, I react to events like water poured on boiling oil, burning everyone in sight, even those trying to help.Β  You could say I have an itchy trigger finger, ready to attack anything that provokes me with my semi-automatic tongue.

One of the reasons I practice meditation every day is to become aware of exactly when my “fire” ignites. If I can catch a negative reaction when it is just one thought, I can extinguish it before my anger and frustration create a three alarm catastrophe. Like a single matchstick, it is easy to blow out a negative thought with a smile or a breath of gratitude. This practice has quadrupled the number of happy moments I experience daily and changed the course of my life.

But after reading the posts by Mirth and Motivation and Professions for PEACE in response to the NewtownΒ  shooting, I realized that simply responding to external events is not good enough.

newtown memorial

“Peace is not something you wish for, it something you make, something you do, something you are, something you give away.”–Robert Fulghum

We need to become actors rather than reactors. We need to child-proof our society, so our children can play and grow without fear of being injured or killed. We need to make, do, become, and give peace right now.

I am starting a new daily practice for 2013 to not just become aware of how I react to external events, but, more importantly, to condition my mind, body, and spirit to create the peace that the world so desperately needs.

I haven’t worked out all the details, and I invite you to offer any suggestions. So far this is what I have come up with:

  • Devote part of my meditation practice specifically to Peace
  • Actively raise my sons to be peaceful and tolerant citizens who respect all forms of life
  • Extend a hand, a smile, or lovingkindness specifically to people who seem unhappy, anguished, or upset
  • Make my home as peaceful as possible at all times
  • Stop judging, and just love
  • Focus on serving others rather than catering to my own ego
  • Write words that promote peace and understanding
  • Empathize with everyone
  • Have no enemies

I strongly urge you to join me in 2013. In what ways can we actively promote peace? What can I add to my list of daily practices? What are other strategies to create the peace our society needs?

Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or smiling.

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32 comments on “Action/Reaction: Failure in 2012 and What to Do About It

  1. Thank you for this beautiful and positive post!! Your tips are wise and yet easily accessible for each of us. Thank you so much for this uplifting piece of writing helping to lovingly ‘shout out’ for what we CAN do, and how we can all help work towards peace, right here, right now, in our day to day lives. And bless your heart for linking to my recent post on hope.
    With love, Gina

    • Kozo says:

      Gina, thank you for inspiring this post. I really took your words to heart–“This post is my humble declaration that I feel we can do something,” I agree with your point about mental health issues, but I wanted to put forth a practice that I could do every day. I am so grateful for the internet, so that I can connect with Everyday Gurus like you and Elizabeth from Mirth and Motivation. Hopefully, we can start a movement like the one featured in your comic. πŸ™‚

  2. Tracy says:

    I’ll join you in this mission for 2013 and beyond Kozo. I was very hot headed as a teenager, it took me a long time to master my temper. I had to look deep within to understand where it came from and how futile it was. Then I had to let it go. I cannot remember the last time I was truly angry – it must be over 20 years ago. That’s not to say I don’t get triggered – I do. But I’ve learned to recognise the signs and now deal with them before they snowball. Here are my practices:

    – I pay attention to my mental state. I notice my mood throughout the day and when I feel it slipping from positive to negative I actively address it. Sometimes it’s a simple oversight – I haven’t eaten so my blood sugar is imbalanced. Sometimes I find I’ve been dwelling on something and just need to deal with it instead of prevaricating.

    – When I know something is likely to trigger my temper, I say to myself “You know this will provoke a negative response. You have access to a range of responses. Count to five and choose wisely.”

    – I listen to the physical signals. Raised pulse, shallow breathing, coursing adrenalin – all indicators that anger may be on the way. Then I address them – control my breathing which in turn stabilises heart rate and reduces the impact of adrenalin.

    – I use anchoring – a technique I learned through NLP – to access positive mind states. I have an anchor to create a sense of calm and another to create detached objectivity. If I can remain calm, detached and objective I can get through most situations gracefully.

    – I practice the art of small kindnesses. I try to find at least 3 small kindnesses to do for other people each day and have no expectation of anything in return.

    Like you, I also meditate and taught my son to be peaceful, tolerant and steer clear of violence.

    • Kozo says:

      Tracy,
      This is worthy of another guest post, haha
      Thank you so much for this insightful set of practices. I love your three acts of kindness and how you count to five and “choose wisely.” I also like using my mental state to reveal something that i have been dwelling on but avoiding.
      In regards to your anchors, are these like “happy places”? I don’t mean to equate them with silly Happy Gilmore psychology, but I’m just trying to get a general idea. I love the idea of preparing a plan of action before any event even hits the horizon.
      By the way, you only have two more small kindnesses to do today. πŸ™‚

  3. diannegray says:

    I’m in on the mission! There are so many things, as individuals, that we can do – unfortunately, a lot of people think the problems with the world are too big and there is no way they can change things. Let’s take that first step and come back at the end of 2013 with our ‘peace achievements’ list. πŸ˜‰

  4. I love this post, Kozo. It speaks of everything needed and bring it back to each and everyone of us. I am still trying to learn to meditate (very active monkey/hamster mind :/) and I feel it would help me in keeping calm. I tend to be more of a very slow cooker…that never brings steam out…I internalize everything or at least a great portion of what bugs me.
    Random acts of kindness to total strangers would also be helpful in bringing peace in all of our little worlds…I enjoy them so much as I often find giving is even better than receiving.
    Your ideas are what we need more of ((Hugs)) πŸ™‚
    Count me in should there be anything going on as a group

    • Kozo says:

      Thanks, Anyes. Of course, you are counted in as part of the group–sorry, I forgot to mention you the first time. I will think about what we can do as a group.
      P.S. I love your term hamster mind. It makes me think of a mind that keeps running like a hamster on a wheel. haha.

  5. Adam S says:

    Perfect. I love all of it. This is going to sound like a shallow thought after all that you’ve said here, but I have to add this: Do not watch the news. It’s partly responsible for all of the negativity. It fuels hostility and feeds hysteria. We have to improve ourselves, first. It’s the only way. Bravo.

    P.S. Does this mean you’re not going to read my rants anymore? (just kidding, and no hard feelings.)

    • Kozo says:

      Adam,
      I disconnected my cable a month ago, and I couldn’t be happier. I get most of my news from bloggers or NPR.
      Of course I will continue to read your blog. I didn’t have any rules against LMAO. Plus, I think the ability to laugh at ourselves actually promotes peace, and you have the kind of empathy that I am trying to develop in my life.
      Thanks for the comment. I look forward to your next post.

      • Adam S says:

        Awesome. Well, let me get your opinion on something while we’re on the topic. Do you find the title of my next post offensive:

        “Last Minute Gift Ideas for the Lazy Bastard on your List”

        ??

      • Kozo says:

        Love it, Adam. Are we the “lazy bastards” for waiting until the last minute or are we purchasing faux-gifts for lazy bastards who we assume are not worthy of a gift?
        Of course, the peacemaker in me would argue that everyone deserves a gift no matter what qualities they have.

      • Adam S says:

        Well, I guess it could work either way! Just think “Velcro Shoes”. I’m gonna drop it before Christmas…

        … and btw, you’re absolutely right. I’m looking out for EVERYONE haha!

      • Kozo says:

        Can’t wait, Adam. You might want to check out this post from a fellow blogger while you write yours: Difficult Gift Giving Made Easy.

      • Adam S says:

        Awesome, I’ll check it out!

  6. Dieu says:

    Listen to others. I find that so often people do not really listen to each other. That sometimes can make a difference. If I ask someone “how are you?” And their answer is something other than the expected “I’m fine”, I will listen, or try my best to. So many people ask “how are you” without really being interested in the real answer if we tell how we truly feel. To truly listen is a powerful peaceful action.

    • Kozo says:

      I completely agree, Dieu. I need to add that to the list. What if we listened not only with our ears, but our hearts? Imagine how much peace we could create. {{{Hugs}}} for the great idea.

  7. seeker says:

    As the Dalai Lama keeps on extending this to all “practice compassion” Peace out.

    • Kozo says:

      The Dalai Lama is definitely one of my gurus. I am amazed how he practices compassion considering what has been done in his country. Actually, we should be grateful for what has been done in Tibet because I bet not too many people would know who the Dalai Lama was if he weren’t in exile.
      Thanks for the comment, Seeker.

  8. Sunshine says:

    What a wonderful way to start 2013 and I especially like your: “Make my home as peaceful as possible at all times”
    I think everything, and I mean, everything, starts @ home…

    • Kozo says:

      So true, Sunshine. I feel like such a hypocrite when I’m blogging about peace and I yell at my kids to leave me alone so I can finish a post. (True story) 😦
      Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important than creating a peaceful and loving environment at home.

      • Sunshine says:

        It’s tough being human on so many levels but the real hypocrite, I believe, would be the person who continues to live a double life never bothering to change the behaviors they speak passionately about. Your children are your greatest teacher…as you are training them, they are molding you into perfection. Awesome! πŸ™‚

      • Kozo says:

        What a beautiful way of seeing/saying things–“as you are training them, they are molding you into perfection.” Thank you for this warming ray of Sunshine on a rainy Christmas morning. I am so grateful for your presence. {{{Hugs}}}

  9. sofiasiberia says:

    What a beautiful post! Peaceful, relaxed and accepting attitude of one person can change attitudes and moods of hundreds around, I strongly believe it!
    Thanks for the great insight and tips!

    • Kozo says:

      Sofia,
      I am on your blog this very second. I am reading your “meditation of love” post and it is in perfect harmony with what I am trying to practice. Thank you for this wonderful partnership. I look forward to the different variations on the same theme from both our blogs.

      • sofiasiberia says:

        Oh haha it’s amazing! πŸ™‚ I’ve been just reading your posts and thinking what the great ideas are being brought there! ))
        Thank you so much for the thought connection! I’ll be visiting regularly!
        And thanks for giving me extra inspiration!

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