Bring A Different Response

Life continues to invite us to opportunities to be intentional in our actions and reactions.

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Photo courtesy of JuanPablo Roldan on Unsplash
Photo courtesy of JuanPablo Roldan on Unsplash

Has anyone handed you a business card that contains no contact name, no phone number, and no email? I recently received one. On the front of this clean, crisp, artfully crafted card is a blog site. And there is some excellent writing there!

After asking some probing questions, I learned that the blogger adopted a plan to hand out the cards at random exchanges (ex., the grocery clerk or gas station attendant).  This particular author does not do social media. Instead, the business card was available for any moment, and for any individual that crossed his path. Essentially, this blogger is offering each card recipient a personal invitation to enjoy his craft.

The potential exists for us to see a return to more in-person interactions- a different approach than connecting through social media. And books like Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism suggest that minimizing social media interactions might be a life-giving alternative for many to consider. The blogger’s card was one drop of evidence supporting that shift. In an age of smartphones and digital marketing, one person opted to connect with others in a highly personalized way. He chose to bring a different response.

As it turns out, bringing a different response applies to so many situations in life! To bring a different response means that, rather than behave with a knee-jerk reaction or act within a current cultural norm, we pause thoughtfully and consider an alternative reply. It is relevant to so many contexts and dynamics.

A different response is ideal for the person who cuts in traffic or the annual performance review that did not go as planned. But it also works when we face the temptation to buy more rather than be creative with what is already there. A different response might mean hanging a clothesline in the backyard to conserve energy instead of using the dryer. Or sending the kiddos back to school with school supplies from last year and donating school supply money to a charitable cause.

Giving a different response can also mean adjusting our behavior in response to life dynamics. We recently planted lavender in our front yard. I was so excited about that particular plant and tried to water it regularly. But over time, I noticed the lavender appeared droopier. Concerned that it was not getting enough water, I started watering twice as often.

A friend of mine operates a lavender farm on her property, and so I mentioned the plant in seeking her advice. “Stop watering,” she offered. She then continued to explain that lavender is a desert plant and needs very little water. So from here on out, I’ll bring a different response and leave the lavender alone.

The lavender story carries truth for life. Sometimes, when we are trying to be helpful, we do it in entirely unhelpful ways. Hence the beauty of a different response. We can quit watering the plant that does not want or need water. Maybe water the raspberries or turn off the hose altogether.

Along those lines, giving a different response can often require a posture of humility. In some instances, humility becomes possible when we view the actions of others through a lens of best intent. Maybe the person that cut in line in traffic had an emergency, or could not be late to work for the 17th time without getting fired. But here’s the thing, even if the driver was not acting with best of intentions, it is between him and karma. We can let it go and move on with life. Moving on is a different response than getting even.

In this regard, bringing a different response is often as much for ourselves as it is for the other. It keeps our life energy healthy and flowing. In our humanity, we don’t always rise above, but life continues to invite us to opportunities to be intentional in our actions and reactions.

Give it a whirl! What are you going to do next? Check your social media account? Bring a different response and, instead, take a walk outside. Maybe start a conversation with the neighbor you pass. While you’re at it, you could even hand out a little card with your blog (or business) printed on the front…

Photo credit: juanpablo-roldan

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