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Guest post by Landon Saunders

Many years ago, Sydney Harris, the journalist, was walking with a friend who went to buy a newspaper. Now, the person selling the paper was very rude, but Sydney Harris’ friend just stayed calm and kind, and, no matter how rude the man was, the friend continued to be kind. Finally, when the transaction was finished, Mr. Harris asked his friend, “Why did you continue treating him so kindly when he was so obviously rude?” And his friend said, “Because I refuse to let him decide how I’m going to act.”

That’s the right spirit, isn’t it? “I refuse to let him decide how I am going to act.” How many times do other people decide how you’re going to act? Instead of being thermostats, too often we are more like thermometers. A thermometer merely reflects the temperature of the room. The thermostat changes the temperature of the room. In the case of Mr. Harris’ friend, what was he—a thermostat or thermometer?  He was a thermostat. He was changing the behavior patterns by choosing a response that was surprising. It was unexpected.

Now that’s an exciting way to live as a human being! To live in a way so that another person does not program your behavior as you respond to them, but, instead, no matter how they respond to you, your response comes out of who you are instead of simply being a reaction to what’s going on around you.

That is an entirely different way to live and an entirely different way to act.