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Your Reaction Is What Counts, Not The Event



I remember many decades ago always waiting for the Reader's Digest to arrive at our house. My Dad chose it as his only magazine subscription and I enjoyed it since many of the stories were short, to the point and the other pages were packed with snippets of interesting trivia. At age 12 the attention span is short!

I mostly enjoyed the short inspirational stories about real life situations. Here is one small snippet that I want to share.

The story is about a granddaughter taking her grandfather out for the day once she had received her driver's license. She had planned the day well, loaded with things her Grandfather would enjoy, and was on time to pick him up for the day's adventures.

They were riding together, she driving, and came to an intersection. She stopped, looked both ways and proceeded to go through the intersection, however an approaching car did not. The driver of the oncoming car failed to slow down, proceeded through the intersection without stopping and almost hit the young lady and her Grandfather.

The granddaughter was extremely shaken, pulled off the road and proceeded to rant and rave about how close they had come to an accident and how dangerous and irresponsible the other driver had been. She looked at her Grandfather and exclaimed, " He has ruined our day".

The Grandfather looked at her, knowing she was upset, and said, " No he did not ruin our day, all he did was run through a stop sign. It will be our reaction to him running the stop sign that determines how our day goes."

The event was caused by an unknown person, the reaction was what determined the following events of the day.

Having grown up for some years with my Grandparents with a Grandfather who could neither read or write, it struck me how much wisdom was in the statements made in this Reader's Digest article. It struck a chord many moons ago and continues to this day.

We lost a son, age 15, to suicide which was completely unforeseen and unexpected. It was very surprising since I had spent my military career as a "psychiatric technician" as well as being a local volunteer in my teens to our state mental hospital. I had quite extensive training in working with psychiatric patients and my best results and efforts happened to be with those who were diagnosed with some form of depression. Our son gave absolutely no signs of depression, did not use drugs, did not drink and was a happy individual.

Many people tried to comfort our family and did very well but our family knew there was one true way to react to this tragedy. That way to react was to take the event and make it positive. We started the Graham Johnson Cultural Arts Endowment, not to mourn the dead, but to celebrate the living.

The Reader's Digest article, taken to heart, helped pave the way. It's not the event, it's the reaction to it.

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The Johnson family started and continue to work and support www.gjcae.org