In Isaac Newton’s Law of Motion, the third law states that when two bodies interact, they apply forces to one another that are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. This law is also known as the law of action and reaction, which is where we get the phrase “for every action, there is an equal reaction”.
A reaction is an action performed or a feeling experienced in response to a situation or event. A response – a byproduct of the word responsibility – is considerate and deliberate. A reaction is instant, driven by our beliefs and biases. It’s like when someone says you’re doing something “without thinking”. A response comes more slowly, and is rooted in information and takes into consideration the well-being of not only you but those around you.
Reaction vs. Response
Most of the media we watch is all about reactions. We see something on TV or social media and we have to react – immediately. We overreact to our sports teams when they lose and post wild statements on the team message boards. Our public service agencies are all about responses. Doctors, EMS, firefighters, police and social workers arrive quick, assess the situation, provide relevant information and determine a long-term solution.
Oftentimes when we react, we add fuel to the fire and become part of the problem. Practice how to respond more and react less, it will lead to a better understanding of yourself and a better relationship with others.