What is this principle ?

10%of life is made up of what happens to you.  90%of life is decided by how you react.

What does this mean ?

We really have no control over the 10% that is of “what happens to us“.

We cannot stop our car from breaking down. The plane may be arriving late. We have no control over this 10%. The other 90% is different. You determine the other 90%.

How ??

By your reaction.

Let’s use an example:

After getting ready to go to office and your daughter to school, you are having breakfast with your family.Your daughter accidentally knocks over a cup of coffee onto your business shirt. You have no control over what just happened.

What happens next will be determined by how you react.

You start cursing her-harshly scold your daughter for knocking the cup over.She breaks down in tears. After scolding her you turn to your spouse and criticize her for placing the cup too close to the edge of the table. A short verbal battle follows. You storm upstairs and change your shirt. Back downstairs, you find your daughter has been too busy crying to finish breakfast and get ready for school. She misses the bus.

Your spouse must immediately leave for work. You rush to the car and drive your daughter to school. Because you are late, you drive 40 miles an hour in a 30mph speed limit.

After a 15 minutes delay and doing away with $60 traffic fine, you arrive at school. Your daughter runs into the building without even saying “goodbye”. After arriving at office 20 minutes late, you find that you have forgoten your briefcase. Your day has started terribly. As it continues, it seems to be getting worse. You look forward to coming home.

When you get back home, you will find that a small wedge has now developed in the relationship you had with your spouse and daughter.


Because of how you reacted in the morning.


Why did you have a bad day ?

a. Did the coffee cause it ?

b. Did your daughter cause it?

c. Did the policeman cause it ?

d. Did you cause it ?

The answer is “d”.

You obviously had no control over what happened with the coffee. But how you reacted in those 5 seconds after the incident is what came over you as a bad day.

Here is what you could have and should have done instead:

Coffee splashes over you. Your daughter is about to cry. You gently say, ” It’s OK honey, you just need to be more careful next time”. Grabbing a towel you runs upstairs.  After grabbing a new shirt and your briefcase, you come back down in time to look through the window and see your child getting the bus.She turns and waves. You arrives 5 minutes early and cheerfully greet the staff. Your boss comments on how good the day you are having.

Notice the difference ?


Two different scenario. Both started the same way, but ended differently.

Why ?

Because of how you reacted.


P.S.: with inputs from a book on “self-empowerment”

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