I heard a story today that I had to share. My friend K, was riding a very crowded subway train.
On the train was a man who was behaving very aggressively to everyone. He was eyeing the passengers and making rude and racist remarks to all that crossed his path, essentially willing all those around him to react to him negatively and/or violently. K looked at him after he made a racist remark to an Asian woman getting off the train and he immediately turned his attention to her. "What are you looking at, he sneered?" She ignored him. "Yeah, you. I'm talking to you! What are you looking at?!!" K turned to him and said sweetly, "You. Because you are so handsome." TADA. Genius. The situation was diffused. Instead of spitting his anger back at him, which I'm sure he expected, she offered him kindness and there was nothing he could do. This struck me as such an incredible way to approach anger: with a smile. Who knows what was going on in that man's life to make his so angry. It certainly didn't have anything to do with K. She was able to offer him a gift without losing anything in the process. And it was the safest response! I just had to relate this story as it is such a knee jerk reaction to strike back when we have been struck. Especially in NYC, we feel we need to keep our guard up and be tough. But sometimes our strongest self is the one that can bend and flow. Sometimes the most amazing move we can learn in martial arts & in life is to sidestep and let someone's anger move past us.