What’s the Rush? – How to Slow Down During the Holidays
Rushing is as much a part of the holiday season as anything else. We rush to get the shopping done. We rush to get packed. We rush to airports. We even try to rush through security lines that move slowly.
It’s easy to spend the whole holiday season rushing from one thing to the next. Then in a month, we’ll look back and the whole season will seem like a blur.
Most people think rushing is just about trying to do stuff quickly. But rushing is actually more of feeling.
I can remember standing in line at an airport hoping to catch a flight. Even though I couldn’t affect the line’s speed it still felt like I was rushing. But why?
The reason is that rushing isn’t about going quickly it’s about anxiety and frustration. Rushing is a feeling of fearful leaning into the future. A feeling of longing for some satisfaction, which will arrive in only a few moments.
But as we reach each moment, the goal moves forward again and we become caught in a cycle. As our minds spin, the anxiety rises. We find ourselves trapped in a state of perpetual longing and frustration.
How Not To Rush
The good thing about rushing being a feeling is we can choose to feel it or not. I’ve done a lot of rushing in my life, but I’ve found some ways to stop or at least reduce it. Here are some simple tricks you can try.
1. Plan for Mishaps -
Our tendency is to plan for perfection. We over schedule, over commit, and try to fit it all in. The problem is that things rarely work out perfectly. So when we plan for perfection and anything is slightly off we find our selves rushing to return to balance.
So, instead of planning for perfection I try to plan for glorious imperfection. I try to leave space and commit to less. Then when something is off it seems more like an adventure than a hassle.
2. Acceptance -
Many things are out of our control. Some relevant examples are traffic, check out lines, and our families. When we encounter these things, we can either accept them or suffer.
Here is a little mantra you can use to help you accept things that ‘slow you down.’
Take a deep breath and repeat after me:
“We are all in this together,
we are all in this together,
we are all in this together.”
This simple mantra helps you let go of your agenda and see everyone around you as a community all trying to achieve a goal. You are no longer in a traffic jam, but in a car army. You are no longer in a line, but a linear revolution.
3. Be a Beacon of Calm -
Rushing is contagious. If everyone we meet or talk to is rushing, it’s easy to feel like a turtle if we don’t join them.
But joining the rush doesn’t help. It only amplifies the sense of anxiety.
Instead whenever I’m around a large group of people during the holidays. I try to be a beacon of calm. I move at a reasonable pace, but I don’t rush.
I make an extra effort to smile and be polite to security guards and flight attendants. I basically, try to act as if everything is going perfectly, just like I’d planned.
Whenever I do this something amazing happens. I feel great! Even better, other people around me start to act more calmly. I’ve seen furrowed brows flatten and smiles returned.
So next time your out, try being a beacon of calm. It’s a wonderful gift to everyone around you.
4.Mindful Hurrying -
Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid hurrying. If I’m late for a flight, need to cook something on the fly, or want to get several things done in a limited time; I have to increase my pace.
But I found that more often than not, hurrying doesn’t have to mean rushing. I can increase my pace, without increasing my anxiety. And when I pull it off, I find that I’m actually more efficient, not to mention happier.
The key to mindful hurrying is watching your breath. As I increase my pace, I try to keep my breath even and calm. This allows me to move with speed, but without a loss in focus.
If I have to run or hustle, then I find a place of stillness inside of myself and focus on that. I pretend that I’m a ninja with lighting reflexes but a calm mind. Whenever I do this, I find that my anxiety was only slowing me down.
The Reason for the Season
The reason for the season is all about slowing things down and paying attention to what’s important. But it’s easy to get caught up in trying to make things perfect and to forget that things are already perfect.
The Christmas story is all about things going wrong: a family traveling miles, not finding a place to stay, a baby born in a barn. Yet one of the reasons people love the story is that despite the setbacks everything is perfect. Not because it all went to plan, but because it didn’t.
The story of the Buddha’s enlightenment is also filled with missteps and false starts. The Buddha tried a ton of practices (including eating poop) before he stumbled on to the path. Finally, he sat down beneath the bodhi tree until he saw clearly.
I could go on talking about holidays, but the truth is that every story of this season has some imperfect element. And it’s that imperfection that makes them special.
So this holiday season I invite you to let go of your perfect holiday, let go of the rush and anxiety that’s driving it, and instead accept the gift of the holiday you have been given. You might find that the gift your receive is better then anything you could of bought for yourself.
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