What’s the difference between a response and a reaction? A deep breath.

When your daughter shatters your favorite plate, when your partner says something you disagree with, or when you get to work and realize you forgot to grab the meal you prepared before leaving the house, what do you do?

A reaction is a quick action or comment driven by instinct and emotion. It reflects unconscious prejudices, beliefs, and thoughts. You might shout at your daughter, snap back with an insensitive comment to your partner, or find yourself heading for the vending machine.

A response is a slower action or comment guided by conscious thought, understanding and empathy. When you respond in these situations, you might instead make sure your daughter is okay, ask your partner what they mean, or take a second to think about your food options at work.

Reactions cause separation. Responses allow you to connect.

Giving yourself the gift of time and breath will allow you to respond to situations instead of reacting. You will bring more mindfulness and connection to your relationship with yourself, others and the world around you.

Just like anything, learning to respond instead of react is a skill that must be developed, and bringing awareness to your tendencies is the best place to start.

Ask yourself:

  1. In which situations am I most likely to say or do something without thinking?
  2. What am I most passionate about? Are there strong feelings, opinions or prejudices that I hold because of this passion?
  3. Can I recognize my initial thoughts, take a deep breath and acknowledge these knee-jerk reactions before speaking?
  4. Where is this person coming from and what is their reality in this moment?
  5. Can I speak or act from a place of understanding?

Your thoughts only become your reality if you turn them into words and actions, and you have that choice in every moment. Are you going to react or are you going to give yourself the gift of one breath, acknowledge your initial reactions and respond in a compassionate way?

Another great way to acknowledge and improve on your mindfulness is to work with a WAG one-on-one nutrition coach. Aside from helping you create a one-of-a-kind nutrition plan, your WAG coach is always available to talk about all things mindfulness.