Oct 152017 3 Responses

Slowing Down Is Not the Answer

Thomas Friedman in his book Thanks for Being Late tells the story from which the book gets its name. Friedman was scheduled to interview someone for the book. Arriving on time and finding his subject not yet present, Friedman enjoyed a few moments to catch his breath. He was able to catch up on some email, read the news, and prepare for what was next. When Friedman’s interviewee finally arrived, he apologized profusely. Friedman honestly told him not to worry about it because the break was nice. Eventually, Friedman thanked the man for being late.

That’s how hectic modern life is. Some of the best moments of our lives are when we are forced to wait on others. I often leave the office early for a lunch meeting. If I don’t, I run the risk of a last-minute drop in and being late. By leaving early, it gives me a few minutes of quiet at the restaurant waiting for my appointment. It’s often the calmest moments of my day.

We are a hurried people. We are overwhelmed by expectations, demands, and responsibilities. Life is moving at a rate of speed never experienced before and there is no hope of it slowing down. We are a hurried people who most likely will only become more hurried.

But there’s a problem.

We can’t love in a hurry. As a matter of fact, nearly everything required for a meaningful relationship–forgiveness, understanding, kindness, knowledge, listening, etc.–can’t happen in a hurry. A meaningful connection does not happen in a hurry. It takes time, energy, and effort.

Consider the convergence of three facts:

1. Humanity needs connection–we can’t have a meaningful life without others.

2. Connection cannot happen in a hurry–what connection requires, hurry prevents.

3. We are a hurried people living in an increasingly hurried world–tomorrow will not be calmer than today.

These three facts are concerning. They serve as a warning to us that without conscious awareness, we will unknowingly hinder the very connections we need the most.

Yet the obvious cure to the dangers of hurry is not slowing down. Finding a slower pace is profitable and we all get benefit from intentional acts to step out of the hurry of our days. However, just the act of slowing down will not inoculate us from the dangers of hurry. (See: An Ancient Cure for Stress and Anxiety)

The Antidote of Hurry

We have limited resources. In spite what others try to sell us, we can’t have it all, do it all, and be it all. We must make choices. The choices we make will determine what receives our time and attention.

It is attention that is the antidote of hurry. Whenever we are in a hurry, our minds are separated from our bodies. We are physically doing one task while emotionally present with another situation. Hurry implies haste in which we are trying to quickly accomplish something in order to move to the next scenario.

As we intentionally give attention to the things we value most, we reunite body and mind while also ensuring we aren’t wasting our time and energy.

With limited resources, not everything in our lives can succeed. It’s like putting differing seeds in fertile soil. The seeds compete for the limited resources of the soil. Whatever wins the resources will flourish. Whatever is starved from the nutrients will die. In our lives, many things are competing for the resources of our time, affections, and attentions. Whatever gets those things will flourish. Whatever doesn’t get those things will die. In a hurried world, we are tempted to starve important relationships of our time and attention and to give those key resources to things that simply don’t matter.

Choose Connection

It takes wisdom and courage to live differently than a majority of culture, but it’s worth it. While our society honors hurry, we suffer from honoring the wrong traits. Hurried people may appear successful and productive, but hurried people are rarely satisfied, joy-filled, and connected. If we emulate the societal norm we will obtain the common results. Society might celebrate the hurried, but few people desire the common outcomes hurried people experience.

Instead, we must choose a different way. While slowing down is useful, we must first focus our attention on the right things. If attention doesn’t come first, slowing down will not help. We might slow down, but we will not be able to identify the proper things to stop doing and the right things to continue. Some well-intended people take specific steps to slow-down only to find themselves wearier than before. It’s because they stop doing the very things they should be doing and they keep doing what they need to stop. (See: Accept It; Don’t Achieve It)

Attention must come first. We must prioritize what’s most important and then ensure those things receive our attention. Whatever gets our affection, time, money, attention, and other resources will flourish. If we believe connection matters, we will ensure that connecting with God and others receives a bulk of our resources. If we don’t believe connection matters, we will give our energy and attention to a thousand other things other than meaningful relationships.

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