React Or Respond — The Answer Is In The Pause

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In this space there is the power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Victor Frankl.

A friend gave me a copy of Frankl’s book, Man’s Search For Meaning, before I went on my sabbatical. So, I am familiar with his words which have inspired millions. But I didn’t recall the above quote until I read it in Valorie Kondos Field’s, Life Is Short, Don’t Wait To Dance

When I first read the quote I thought of the saying that in music its the silence between the notes that makes all the difference. Field uses the quote to talk about how in gymnastics and life the difference between reacting and response is a pause. She says when we react we don’t slow down to analyze and make a choice, but when she responds rather than reacting she has far less regret. Pointing out the difference between reacting and responding is only a breath.

I thought about Frankl and Field and my own experiences between reacting and responding. As an athlete we were coached to take a deep breath before we started something critical, a free throw, a tennis serve, a critical putt, etc. You might notice a quarterback before he starts to call out signals clearing his head. I counsel lawyer’s before they ever give a client advice to think at least for a second before speaking. I bet for each one of my readers you know how to find that pause between reacting and responding.

If the beauty of music is in the silence between the notes, imagine how important is the pause between responding and reacting. It’s worth a meditation or two.





About the author

Webb Hubbell, former Associate Attorney General of the United States, is an author and lecturer. His novels, When Men Betray, Ginger Snaps, and A Game Of Inches, are published by Beaufort Books and are available online, in your local bookstore, or you can order autographed copies at When Men Betray won one of the IndieFab awards for best novel in 2014. Ginger Snaps Won the IPPY Awards Gold Medal for best suspense/thriller.

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