Lesson from a porcupine, watch your reaction

Last week I was driving along one of the back roads near my home. When I rounded the corner, I found a porcupine crossing the road. He saw my car and started running. I had already moved left to avoid him, but I guess he thought I was moving too quickly for him to get away. Half way across my lane, he suddenly stopped and hunched over so his quills would be pointing up to protect him.


I’m sure this approach can be very effective with most predators, but he probably wouldn’t have fared well against a car.

As I passed him, I couldn’t help but think about how often people do the same thing. When confronted with a challenge, threat, or anything stressful, we often choose a reaction out of habit, not because it is the most effective.

[Picture is not of the porcupine in the road, it is one that lives in my yard. We call him “Fluffy”]

Habits become ingrained because we repeat the behaviors, reinforcing them over time. I said “we often choose a reaction out of habit,” because it is our choice. It is always our choice.

Next time you are faced with a challenge, take a deep breath and check your reaction. Is it the most appropriate for the circumstances? By choosing a different action or behavior than the one you would normally take out of habit, can you bring about a better outcome?