|Why Do We Rush Even When We Don’t Have To?
We have just celebrated the 4th of July. We have enjoyed our families, friends, and loved ones, picnics, gatherings, and making memories. Now back to the real world… We go from a slower pace into the rat race of our responsibilities. Somehow we tend to feel the pressure to pick up the pace… Why?
When we are in work mode, many of us rush about as a means to an end: as a method for getting results in the form of good experiences, such as relaxation and happiness. There is an unsettled tendency inside of us that keeps trying to suck us back into methods for arriving at relaxation and happiness. By habit or fear we jump up and dive into doing things.
There are times we do need to rush. Maybe you’ve got to get our kids to school or activities on time, or the boss really has to have that report by end of day. OK.
But much of the time, we rev up and race about because of unnecessary internal pressures, unrealistic standards for ourselves or because external forces are trying to hurry us along for their own purposes.
How do you feel when you’re rushing? Perhaps there’s a bit of positive excitement, but if you’re like me, there’s mostly, if not entirely, a sense of tension, discomfort, and anxiety. This kind of stress isn’t pleasant for the mind or soul and over time it’s bad for the body. Plus, there’s a loss of autonomy: the rush is pushing you one way or another rather than you yourself deciding where you want to go and at what pace.
Instead, how about stepping aside from the rush as much as you can?
How can we break this pattern? For one thing we can be aware of rushing—your own and others. See how other people assume deadlines that aren’t realistic, or get time pressured and intense about things that aren’t that important. Notice the internal shoulds or musts or simply habits that speed you up.
Then, when the demands of others bear down upon you, buy yourself time—what psychologist Tara Brach calls “the sacred pause”—In order to create a space in which you are free to choose how you will respond. Are you letting the rushing of others around you become your own?
1. Try to slow down the conversation, ask questions, and explore what’s really going on inside of you. Consider the sign I once read, “Your lack of planning is not my emergency.”
2. Try not to create “emergencies” for yourself. You can get much done at your own pace without rushing; plan ahead and don’t procrastinate.
3. Be realistic about your own emotional and physical resources.
4. Remember there are 168 hours in a week, not 169. It’s a kind of healthy let it go, relinquishment, the driven side of us, or the ambition that overcommits and sets us up for rushing.
5. Most importantly, try to rest in and enjoy the richness of the moment and the life you have been given. Your job, your family, and your well-being. Even an ordinary moment—with their sounds, sights, tastes, smells, sensations, feelings, and thoughts—are amazingly interesting and rewarding. Enjoy the present. There’s no need to rush along to anything else.
Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should. Psalm 90:12, TLB
The Bible is pointed about the value of each individual day and is equally direct in speaking of our responsibility to use these pieces of time wisely and profitably:
We are to consider each day a valuable gift, and look to God for wisdom in using that gift.
We are to treat each day separately, recognizing that “one day at a time” isn’t just a clever slogan but a practical guideline to help us stay sensitive to today’s duties and not worry about tomorrow.