Only 10% of Your Life is Caused by Things That Happen to You and 90% by Your Reaction to Them [Reaction Is (Almost) Everything]

This is not our quote, but belongs to Charles R. Swindoll, so to be exact: “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”

Do you balk at that, resist that notion? Do you think “It is what it is,” facts are facts?

Let’s start with the Rashomon effect, a phenomenon where various people remember the same event differently. It’s named after the 1950 film by Akira Kurosawa in which a samurai has been mysteriously killed; four characters proceed to give conflicting reports about how that occurred. You may have experienced something similar with friends after leaving a party or taking a trip, not only about what actually happened, but how it made you all feel….

So what gives with that?  First it has to do with the unreliability of human memory. Crazy though it may sound, implanting false memories is simple! Research shows it is easily accomplished by asking someone to recount an event that didn’t happen. Further, every time you remember something, you rewrite it in your brain – even strengthening errors that may have become part of your recollection!

Let’s add to that the voice inside our head that likes to comment on and judge everything that happens… and what about our different emotional responses to the same event? If I told you I dreamt about a dog, would you smile and nod your head, “Oh, awesome,” or would you be petrified and think, “What a nightmare!” The emotion becomes part of the memory – you see how triggers can form quite easily.

As a picture is worth a thousand words, some examples illustrate how glaringly obvious Swindoll’s assertion is:

* POW’s that survived brutality without losing hope or themselves

* Suicides that to us are inexplicable, the opposite side of the coin

– “On August 11, 2014, Robin Williams committed suicide in his Paradise Cay, California home at age 63.”

– “On June 8, 2018, Anthony Bourdain was found dead of an apparent suicide by hanging in his room at Le Chambard hotel in Kaysersberg, near Colmar; he was 17 days short of his 62nd birthday.”

You may have heard or even used this word before: story. In Landmark Education, it is “an account or interpretation of past events often mistakenly taken for what actually happened.”  Again, typically memories consists not only of data, but of an attached emotion. In fact, it appears that emotionally charged situations can lead us to create longer lasting memories of the event.

Ok, so, if life is 10% what happens to you, but we’re not even remembering all the facts right – that 90% that constitutes our reaction may as well be 100%. That’s powerful. That means we really, truly have control over our minds, yet we are not consciously using this power and actually controlling our thoughts. You might ask yourself why not. Let that sink in.

If you really want to be inspired, check out W. Mitchell and his life. (See Unlimited Power – Tony Robbins or Mitchells’ book “IT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU, IT’S WHAT YOU DO ABOUT IT.”)

If you need help – because this concept is simple, though not always easy to put into practice, the Neural Alignment Method® [] may be of benefit to you.


Dawn Cady


Dawn Cady is Australia’s premiere transformation & pain management coach and winner of multiple awards for her groundbreaking work. The Neural Alignment Method®  is Dawn’s remarkable brainchild, bringing together the world’s best healing and mindset techniques. With unique expertise and passion, she has helped countless others to achieve real, tangible success, along with a renewed enjoyment and satisfaction in all areas of life.