If you’ve been to or live in New York City, you know people are on the go. Once at Penn Station during evening rush hour, I saw a young mother struggle to pick up her daughter in a stroller to walk down the long flight of stairs. Against the tide of humans coming at her, a gentleman, without so much as a hello or a goodbye, grabbed the stroller, jogged it down to the bottom of the steps and continued on his way.
I lived in New York City for many years and I love this about New Yorkers. It seems they thrive on movement. I did, too. My 2 mile walk to the hospital along First Avenue was more of mini jog. I even competed with cars and busses to see if I could get to the end of the block first.
But I also loved when all this came to a halt at one very special time of year. The hot, muggy, steam rising off the pavement season. Summer.
On the days when you can see the haze of heat waves blanket the city, my step took on a whole different attitude. There was no hurry at all.
Interestingly, in a 2010 issue of the journal Science*, researchers describe developing a mobile device app that at particular intervals prompted the study participants’ to record what they were doing, thinking and feeling. What they found was when the participants’ mind was focused on what they were doing, whether big or small, significant or mundane, they were the happiest.
Why all this hurry?
These days, I wonder what the hurry is all about.
As I observe myself, I notice I’m not only hurrying to get ready for work, but even when I’m doing the dishes or folding the laundry.
I hurry to complete goals so I can quickly make new ones.
And my thoughts are saying that I have to get somewhere, maybe anywhere, fast.
I wanted a way to sense when I’m in hurry mode and what it did to me.
First I noticed that my body is literally moving faster. I’m scrubbing harder, folding messily. And knowing the mind-body connection, I watched my mind take on this sense of urgency, which led to the cascade of those little ‘ole stress hormones.
But when I was in observation mode, my hands started moving with more intention, my mind was calmer and even with how much I don’t like folding laundry, it became more pleasant. (Hard to believe, I know.)
And I wasn’t losing time paying attention in this way. I was gaining peace of mind.
I wanted a way to remind myself that whatever that invisible force is that draws me forward, isn’t my driver.
So I came up with a very simple phrase. “I’m not in any hurry.” As silly as this might sound, it works.
When I feel myself rushing around, I say this to myself and my mind and body slow down.
Of course not all rushing around is bad. That man in a hurry at Penn Station was using his need to get somewhere to help someone out.
But we also don’t need a heat wave or a snowstorm to slow ourselves down. Shifting your unconscious worries and anxieties into a conscious intention to not hurry, you help yourself and those around you.
How this might impact your day
There are ways for you to experiment taking moments to slow down your movements to help slow down the rush in your mind.
Walk from a one place to another with a touch slower pace and see if you notice more things around you.
If you work with patients, clients or students, see if when you slow down, they are able to focus better.
At home and about:
As you enter this holiday season of sharing time with family, parties with co-workers and looking for that special gift for someone, you can get busy.
When running errands, maybe add in an extra moment of your smile as you greet the person at the shopping counter. Leaving home for your commute to work or if you are in traffic, add the phrase, “I’m not in a hurry.”
See what happens and let me know. I’d love to hear how this goes for you and also ways you help yourself slow down and let go of some of the hurrying.
This is why I created the free video Room to Breathe with tips on how you can use this kind of mindfulness strategy and others during your day. Get the video by filling out the form on the home page.
*Killingsworth and Gilbert. A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. 12 November, 2010. Science (330).