Imagine— in your mind’s eye – that the weeks, months, and years of your life pass by. You find yourself older in this vision. Your hair is grey. Your skin in wrinkled. More time passes – you find yourself older still… Life is coming to its end.
As your time on the planet approaches its end, you reflect on what has been meaningful to you. The moments that were the most precious, the most joyful, the most sacred.
Maybe it was the beautiful sunrises, the intimate gaze of a lover or the music that sent shivers down your spine. You’ll probably think back on precious moments shared with friends and family and the moments spent doing what you’re truly passionate about.
Notice that these were the moments when you slowed down, connected, drank life in deeply, savoured the moment. Notice that you’re brought back to your most mindful moments.
It’s easy to put what’s really important into perspective with the end in mind, isn’t it?
Will It Be Your Greatest Joys Or Your Greatest Regrets?
Our culture is one of business, effort, deadlines, striving and achieving. The information age has us racing through life at a pace that would make our forefathers’ heads spin.
But are we happier?
In today’s road runner culture, it’s not often we allow ourselves the luxury of being fully present for those precious moments. When we live like this – always trying to get somewhere instead of being here – we are short changing our lives.
Those moments we reflect on will be our greatest joys if we let them happen; or they can be our greatest regrets if we let the opportunity to live them slip away. Too many people throw away today for tomorrow; but when tomorrow comes, we long to get today back.
We need to hurry up and slow down before life passes us by.
A Race to the End
We live in a world that seems to be stuck in fast forward. As a culture, we’re obsessed with speed, with doing everything faster, and more efficiently.
We are endlessly trying to cram more and more into less and less time. Every moment of the day can feel like a race against the clock. These days, even instant gratification takes too long.
In our efforts to make things ‘better’ we have often resorted to making things faster and more efficient.
Technology makes communication easier and yet more superficial. We have our kids in day care while we work longer, harder and faster. We power walk to work with breakfast bars and coffee in hand so we can make money to buy things that are supposed to make us happier.
In the headlong dash of daily life, we often lose sight of the damage, and the toll that this pace takes on us. Sometimes it takes a wake-up call of some kind to alert us to the fact that we are hurrying through life, instead of living it. We find we’re living the fast life, instead of the good life.
For a lot of people, it takes an illness to do this. The body simply can’t take it anymore. For others, maybe a relationship ends because we haven’t made the time or had the inner calm to just stop and spend quality time.
For some people the wake-up call only comes at the time death is looming – then they slow down and finally stop to feel the warmth of sunshine on their skin– but also laced with the regret of not slowing down sooner.
Finding The Key To Your Ultimate Fulfillment
One of our biggest problems is that it’s hard for us to slow down. Speed is fun and alluring – we get that adrenaline rush. It can be hard to give it up. Speed and busyness can also be a way of walling us off from the bigger deeper questions in our lives.
All that busyness offers us a good distraction. When we’re distracted, we don’t have to ask, “Am I well? Am I truly happy? Is my relationship being nurtured? Am I acting in a way that supports others and the planet?”
Another problem is the cultural taboo about slowing down. Slow is a dirty word. When people in our society think ‘slow’, we think ‘lazy’, ‘slacker’ or ‘giving up’—all negative connotations. There is too much speed in our world, too much busyness. We’re always trying to get somewhere instead of being where we are.
Here is a very simple and sensible message: we get more pleasure out of life when we slow down. That’s not to say that speed doesn’t have its place but it should not be a permanent fixture in our lives.
What can ‘slowing down’ mean? Take some time to lovingly prepare and eat a meal with your family, with the TV switched off. Walk barefoot on the grass, enjoying the sensation. Slowing down can take the form of really connecting with a customer, instead of just trying to sell something to them.
Slowing down means doing one thing at a time, and being there– fully. It means taking the time to slow down and savor your life, instead of making it a means to an end .
Where Is It That Your Trying To Get To That So Important That It’s Worth Not Living Today?
Next time you find yourself hurrying through your days, rushing and consumed in mental chatter, just getting it done – ask yourself, “Where is it that I’m trying to get to that’s so important it’s worth not really living today?”
I want you to imagine – again, for a moment—that you’re the older you. It’s unlikely you’ll get to the end of your days and wish you stayed back from work more often, had a nicer car, bigger house or climbed higher up the corporate ladder. You’ll be surprised how fast those things will lose their importance.
Hopefully you’ll reflect on a life rich with meaning– a vivid tapestry woven with moments of joy, connectedness and love.
Don’t live your life as a means to an end – only to end up with regrets. Savour it today.
Hurry up and slow down…before it’s too late.
Do you have any questions or comments? Maybe some of your own wisdom to share? Let me know in the comments section below.
Wishing you well,