There is a split moment when you decide how you will react emotionally to any given situation. Although fleeting, it's quite distinct, an all-but-instantaneous executive decision: how will I react to this experience? In that moment, you decide whether to be angry or compassionate, grateful or entitled, engaged or apathetic.
Once you've made the decision, it's nearly impossible to unmake. You can calm your engine after pushing the gas pedal down on righteous anger, but it ain't easy. If you've ever tried to stifle inappropriate laughter after deciding something was funny, you know how hard that is. As we age, of course, we may have chosen the same response over and over again so many times, we forget it is a choice. We think we have to be angry or frustrated or whatever. We fail to consider the alternatives.
For example, suppose you were turned down for a promotion you richly deserved, a promotion which went, instead, to a colleague who was manifestly unfit, incompetent, and probably dishonest, not to mention, just plain ugly. In this circumstance, you could throw a little pity party for yourself, and rage against your boss, your company, and the injustice of life. Or... you could flap your arms and quack like a duck.
"What?" you say. "That's absurd. No one would do a thing like that." Perhaps, but that doesn't mean it might not be the best response. Flapping your arms and quacking is perfectly simple to do - try it for yourself right now - and has never been linked to high blood pressure or stomach ulcers.
Consider another situation. You're in heavy traffic, and someone swerves in front of you without signaling, and compels you to stomp on the brakes, nearly causing an accident. Perhaps it does cause an accident. What will you do? Will you curse and instruct the other driver to engage in impossible sexual acts? Will you show him your middle finger? Or will you flap your arms and quack like a duck? In my experience, people in this situation who quack like ducks are treated with a degree of respect bordering on fear.
Now suppose you are in the doctor's office, and he gives you the news you have a medical condition for which there is no cure and the only outcome is death. A typical response would be depression or denial; it is the rare person indeed who would muster the courage to flap his arms and quack like a duck.
The truth is, however, all of us have a medical condition and all of us will die. We don't need a doctor to tell us that. But how many of us ever consider flapping and quacking.
I do not hope to change the world. I am only one person after all. All I want to say is... give the duck a chance.