Right from childhood, we learn to react. We observe how grown-ups react to everything around them: news, events, other people and their circumstances—even the weather! So we start to believe that reacting is natural and gradually, it becomes our second nature.
But that's what it is—our 'second' nature, implying that it is secondary or acquired, not our own. Reaction has an external connotation, meaning that something external causes us to think or act in a certain way.
A reaction, by its very nature, is unfulfilling. When we react, we either suppress our natural instincts to allow someone or something outside of us to determine our thoughts and behaviour, or we are ignorant of them.
As opposed to our second nature, which is borrowed, we would do well to cultivate what I call our 'first' nature. Our first nature is to act from a deeper place of self-awareness. In fact, our first nature is so natural to us that it comes to us without even thinking about it.
Our physiological instincts—hunger, thirst, pain, sex, and everything else that we experience bodily—fall under our 'first' nature. Can you imagine what would happen if we lost our sense of these physiological instincts? You would have to rely on others for basic necessities such as eating and drinking.
But that's what we're doing in other aspects of our life. We live in such an over-stimulated age that our emotions have become mostly reactive. When we react, we mostly end up doing something we don't necessarily want to do—like the things that we might say or do when we get angry.
Anger is a potent, but nevertheless common, self-destructive reaction. It is NOT our first nature. Being calm and at peace is. That's why anger feels so bad and being calm and peaceful feels so good.
So, unless we live by our first nature, it's not possible for us to be happy and fulfilled. And living like that comes from awareness, not from knowledge or reason.
To be able to act out of awareness, it is important to get in touch with our instincts and our feelings—and then be guided by them. Success and happiness are by-products of acting out of this awareness. On the other hand, sadness, and a feeling of loss is always the result of a reaction.
When faced with any situation—minor or major—rely on your first nature, which is a gift of God, of nature. Because when we are guided by our instincts, we usually do what is best for us in that moment.
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