For the last week I have been touring colleges with my son who is entering his senior year. We have been on the go in big cities and it's been a challenge to find time to return calls or check email. At night, instead of logging on, I fall into bed exhausted. I know I should be completely focused on him. It's one of the few times when I will have an opportunity to spend one on one time with him for this long.
But there's a part of me that's wracked with anxiety about the emails that need to be returned and calls that need to be made. Yesterday, I hurried through lunch with him to check my email before we rushed to our next campus visit. I actually told him to hurry up and eat lunch faster. Now, I feel guilty about it. What will I remember a few weeks from now - the emails I returned or the amazing conversation I would have had over a more leisurely meal?
In her book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, Arianna Huffington notes: "mastering the art of slowing down doesn’t happen quickly. Learning the wisdom of slowing down, of truly living, is itself a journey. But it is also a prescription for better health.”
I admit I have hurrying sickness. Do you have it too? How many times a day do you find yourself thinking "hurry up" or saying it aloud to your kid or spouse?
In her book, Arianna writes: “In the summer of 2013, a blog post on The Huffington Post became an unexpected overnight sensation, with more than 7 million page views and nearly 1.2 million Facebook likes. It was entitled “The Day I Stopped Saying ‘Hurry Up,’ ” and was written by Rachel Macy Stafford, a special education teacher and mother of a six-year-old girl. Rachel’s life, as she writes, was “controlled by electronic notifications, ringtones, and jam-packed agendas.” But one day she painfully realized the impact she was having on her daughter—“a laid-back, carefree, stop-and-smell-the-roses type of child”: “I was a bully who pushed and pressured and hurried a small child who simply wanted to enjoy life.
It is painful to discover I have the hurrying sickness. I actually felt guilty about leisurely eating lunch when I thought I could squeeze in a few minutes of clearing email.
But what I have overlooked when I am rushing from one task to the next are the rewards of slowing down. Leisurely eating helps you to feel full. Leisurely walking helps you to de-stress. Leisurely listening allows you to pick up on what your child or spouse might not actually be verbalizing
I have been warned that the art of slowing down doesn't happen quickly. It's a journey. And, for me, it's one well worth trying to embark on, particularly when I think about the message I'm sending to my kids.
As Arianna notes: "While hurry sickness isn't inherited, it’s clear that we’re doing a pretty good job of passing our self-destructive relationship with time on to our children.”
With this realization, I am taking the first step on my journey to slowing down my rush through life. I am going to ask my son his thoughts on our college visits and I am going to listen patiently to his response - regardless of how many emails pile up. If we try, we can all see the path to an improved quality of life. All we have to do is take it.