When our minds are caught up in the day-to-day grind of life, it can be easy to lose track of the big picture, and what is truly important in the short time that we have alive. Many of us can fall into negative habits over time, unaware of the adverse effects that they have on us and the rest of society. Even if we are able to take note of a negative behavior, if a majority of society is also participating in it, or even encouraging it, then it can normalize something that is detrimental to everyone’s quality of life.
We all know that we should “stop and smell the roses” and that “life is about the journey, not the destination”, but with the way modern society works, it’s incredibly easy to lose track of these very important life principles.
As most of you know, I travel for a living and have witnessed people rushing through their finite amount of time on this glorious earth in a majority of the countries that I’ve visited. Rushing seems to be dominant in countries where capitalism is most embraced. We are all encouraged to get as much done as possible, but few of us stop to consider what toll this is putting on our lives and the rest of mankind.
The ah-ha moment
Where I witnessed the true ugliness of this behavior manifest itself was while I was recently driving from Chicago to my investment properties in Michigan. While driving on Lakeshore Drive, one instance of rushing and frustration is now burned into my memory forever. If you’re unfamiliar, Lakeshore Drive is a 4-lane road that extends the entire length of Chicago. The speed limit is 45 miles per hour (72 kmph), but most travel well over this, and treat it more like a race track than anything else.
Anyways, I was driving along minding my own business, slightly above the speed limit while enjoying my milk-tea and the ease of the late morning traffic (much after work had started) when a middle-aged man starts tailgating me from behind. As soon as the lane next to us cleared, he accelerated quickly and flew by me. Before he overtook me he was sure to let his anger be known, first by turning to stare at me like I was committing a horrible crime, and then by throwing both of his hands up in the air while mouthing an expletive.
Immediately, my response was to laugh at how insane his behavior was, but a younger me, and many of others would have surely reciprocated his micro-aggression with acts of our own road rage.
To add insult to injury, a few moments later, we were both stopped at the same red light. Not only did this man allow himself to lose control of his emotions, he added to an overall negative feeling among those around him, which can easily spread like a virus to the rest of society.
This 30-second encounter was enough to cement into my mind how much we all lose by rushing through the miracle of life.
Shooting ourselves in the foot by rushing
Driving those few extra miles per hour will typically only get us to our destinations a few seconds or minutes earlier. Whether it’s driving like in my example, or rushing in another circumstance, what we stand to gain from this behavior is strongly outweighed by what we lose in the long run.
In all situations in life, when we allow ourselves to get frustrated and angry, we are the ones that lose. Not only do we ourselves lose, but society as a whole is also negatively impacted by the negative energy that results from rushing as its effects are contagious, and tend to spread like a virus.
We can blame others all we want, but we are ultimately in charge of our emotions and reactions.
The stress of rushing through life wears on us, adding unneeded stress to our lives and to others. As we all know, stress leads to all types of health problems and shortens lifespan.
Is rushing really worth it?
Instead of rushing to death, doing everything as quickly as possible, missing all of the beauty around us, why not stop and enjoy the moment? When we stop rushing, spreading anger and thinking too much, we will realize the benefits of inner peace immediately. For me, the effects hit me like a freight train and it felt euphoric! I felt like I had finally conquered a major obstacle in my thinking. All of the little stresses from rushing melted away, exposing an incredibly increased sense of ease and peace.
Rest assured that it is still completely possible to get everything done, even when we don’t rush. Instead of spreading contagious negativity by rushing and getting frustrated, we can choose to relax and spread the also contagious, positive energy.