The 80/20 Rule | Part 1

percent-99376_1280You’ve heard it before: “Life is 20% what happens to you and 80% how you respond to it.” Others alter the percentages a bit, saying that life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% how you respond.

Whatever the percentages, the concept remains the same: Although you and I don’t have actual control over every single thing that happens to us, we can control how we respond to our lives.

To me, this is profound. Although I’ve heard this concept countless times and know it to be true, an experience that I had very recently really brought it home for me.

Last week Mom and I enjoyed some alone time as my sister and dad happened to be out-of-town at the same time. While I love my entire family and definitely missed our wayfaring half, I enjoyed the quiet time with just mom and me.

On Wednesday morning mom and I sat down side-by-side to a blueberry millet granola breakfast that I had prepared and enjoyed each other’s company for… 30 seconds flat.

Why so short? Because my mom scooted her chair uncomfortably close to mine while continuing to chew.  (Gasp!)

The noise of granola chewing coming closer to me was just more than I could bear! Instinctively I jerked away from my mom, not hesitating in the least to express my displeasure at her moving so close to me during my dining experience. I rashly concluded that she was intentionally provoking me…


And finally I had a moment of clarity as mom expressed that in reality she had not intended to annoy me at all. I realized that her only desire was to be close to me and savor our special mother-daughter time.

I had completely misunderstood. Rather, I hadn’t taken the time to understand at all. I immediately jumped to conclusions and only considered my personal preferences and feelings. I didn’t take time to wait and slowly consider my mom’s heart and feelings or even try to view things from her perspective.

So what that my mom moved so close to me? Who cares that I’m not a really huggy, touchy person? Is it all about me? Why could I not have simply opened my mind and allowed myself to discern in her actions an expression of motherly love?

I am still asking these questions now. I so regret having responded the way I did. Yet I am equally as grateful for this experience because gives me an opportunity to evaluate my own mind, to explore more positive, alternative responses.

How do I respond to real situations that I don’t prefer? How can I respond to petty annoyances or real trials with grace and dignity? How can I choose my responses rather than allow myself to act on autopilot and do whatever my emotions dictate?

So that’s what led me to think of the 80/20 Rule this morning. Life is crazy and unpredictable. Inevitably things happen that I don’t like.

My response is key.

What if that Wednesday morning breakfast went differently? Mom still scoots way too close to me while chewing but instead of becoming annoyed I smile, give her a hug and ask her if she didn’t mind not chewing in such close proximity to me. Or what if I don’t say anything at all, choosing instead to enjoy her affection and celebrate her way of expressing love?

The truth is that I have no ability in myself to respond gracefully to the myriad of trials and petty annoyances that arise. I have no power against the torrent of emotion that wells up inside of me when things aren’t going ‘my way’ or ‘my plan’.

I can fake it for a little while but at some point or another things break loose and I become worse off than before.

But in Jesus there is true help–help to respond to people and situations in a way that is positive. Only He can give me the ability to respond to anything in ways that are uplifting and kind.

I hope to be back on Wednesday with a refreshing recipe for these super hot, summer days.

Until then,



You may be wondering how exactly this post relates to the theme of my blog and my journey to recovery. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you next Sunday… I still have more to say. 😀


3 thoughts on “The 80/20 Rule | Part 1

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