“Smile, breathe, and go slowly,” says Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh. Yeah right, I hear you mutter. I haven’t got time to slow down.
Time feels like a precious, limited commodity. 24/7 connectivity creates constant distractions, urging us to multi-task and achieve more and more with each day.
The problem with rushing is not about moving faster, but that it is usually marks an anxious state of mind. Rushing means we are living the future, focusing on what we need to achieve, earn, tick off our list. We are literally lurching forward.
I know from my own experience that busy-ness can become my badge of honour. It was often fro me a sign that I was successful, popular and connected to this busy city. Busy-ness is often a form of anxiety and fear of not achieving enough, ultimately not being ‘enough’ of a person.
As American professor and founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic, Jon Kabat Zinn explains, ‘We are apt to get caught up in the urgency of everything we have to do and so caught up in our heads and in what we think is important, that it is easy to fall into a state of chronic tension, anxiety and perpetual distraction.’
Rushing we also increase our stress and therefore can easily be caught in the hamster wheel of fussing, fretting and freaking out about events, conversations, meetings or situations that are either beyond our control, or we could simply let go of worrying about.
Super ‘busy’ people often put a low priority on the activities that nourish them: seeing friends, doing exercise, having new experiences, being outside in nature, eating well, relaxing, even sleeping. Cutting out the most nourishing parts of their lives only exacerbates their stress and their sense of no easy escape from the speed and monotony of their hamster wheel of hyper activity.
Add to all this, when we rush we often overlook the obvious, forget the important. We lack the clarity to see what on our list actually need to achieved today and what is superfluous, unnecessary or non urgent.
Philosopher, Henry David Thoreau stated: ‘our life is frittered away with details: simplify, simplify, simplify.’
How could you simplify and slow down your life today?
Do one thing at a time – try it, miraculously you will be quicker at everything you do. And save time.
Prioritise – not everything on your list is urgent, vital. By staying present, you will see that a lot of rushing around is actually about fretting, fussing and freaking out.
Strike off the unnecessary from your To Do list. We often pride ourselves on having a list that is impossible to achieve each day. Be realistic.
Accept a certain amount of confusion. Clarity comes from allowing undeveloped ideas and thoughts space to breathe and clarify.
Stay present – aware of body sitting on the chair, space around you, smells, sounds in the room. Feeling physically connected to yourself and your space will naturally slow you down.
Allow a pause – even Google staff schedule in a five minute Mindfulness break between meetings. Allow yourself even a few minutes to check in with yourself and your immediate experience, before you move onto the next thing.
Take it all in. The only reality you have is right now.