A Reactive Life: Discovering an Alternate Way

I spend most days reacting to external stimuli, taking back-to-back impulsive decisions.

  • I click on a notification and end up buying something.
  • I’m given a task that I spend an hour meddling with.
  • I find an interesting link and the rabbit hole begins.
  • I’m drawn into a conversation that I’m clueless about.

The day ends.

I look back and think, “How much of my day was what I wanted it to be?” Then I realize: not much, really. But because I did not plan, I decide to settle with no complaints (Not all of this spontaneity is bad).

But leading a life of ‘reacting’ to surroundings and circumstances instead of acting proactively doesn’t feel great.


Because it signifies a lack of control, mixed with the helplessness that stems from a lack of direction or goals.

That’s why phrases like ‘going through the motions’ or ‘going with the flow’ don’t inspire much. They signify a passive life or a lack of purpose—a surrender to that helplessness, as opposed to a will to take charge.

It keeps me from the joy that comes from discovering ‘what I want’ and then ‘achieving it,’ which may not come from anything unplanned. You can only celebrate what you ask for, right? 

A fix I’ve figured

There’s a chunk of life I can’t control – the spontaneous stuff that pops up out of nowhere. That’s okay, really. 

But when I work on a few meaningful personal projects that give me a sense of meaning, I feel like I’ve made the day count. I can put on a smile and sleep well that day. 

What I’ve realized, ultimately, is that it’s not the abundance of reactive activities that weigh me down but rather the lack of a few meaningful ones that are important to me. I try to be honest with those. 

When I do those, I’m happier.