The other day I sat down with Bruce, a long-time client who I meet with once a year. I was taken back by the peace and happiness on his face. I asked him about his glow, he smiled kindly and gave me a gift. He explained that he had spent many years working harder and harder, longer hours away from the people he loved. He was always planning for the next step, worried that what he was doing may not be enough. Bruce explained meeting with me, his financial advisor, was really about making sure that nothing went wrong once he got to retirement.
Then he recalled a trip he made to the ER six months prior, when he thought he was having a heart attack. “They hooked me up to all the monitors, and I was sure they’d be cutting into my chest. I was utterly frozen, thinking that this couldn’t be the end…but what if it was. You can imagine the relief I felt when the doctor told me I was having a severe panic attack.”
That was when he began making subtle changes to every area of his life, because his status quo needed a transformation. The most significant change was to SLOW DOWN, and this is what he meant:
- Being in “high-gear” is not productivity. Sure, there are deadlines to beat, deals to be made, places to be. However, urgency can exist in an atmosphere that is calm. When we slow down, breath and take in the environment, the people surrounding us, we have a keener sense of the real elements that are influencing situations, including unmet needs for support (ours as well as others). The big picture becomes clearer, too, instead of being focused on the minutia. And, oh yes, this applies to work and home.
- Connections are vital. We live longer, more fulfilled and loving lives when we are in relationship with others. It’s a fact. Ever wonder, as you work in an organization of 300 people, why you feel isolated? A lot of times we feel like we need to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders without burdening others. The truth is, there are many people who would welcome sharing the load. And cultivating those relationships does not need to be a production—it’s a phone call or a coffee. It’s taking a walk with your spouse or having ice cream with your grandkids. It’s easy to connect when we slow down.
- Make every moment count. When that alarm clock goes off in the morning, before stepping into the shower, step into the day—go out to the patio and breath in the fresh air. Play your favorite music loudly and feel it. Cook a gourmet meal with someone you love. The next time you’re in line at the grocery store, compliment the woman behind you. Let her know that her eyes are beautiful. Have a conversation with the clerk ringing up your purchases. We all need to be aware of the impact every moment can have on us and the surrounding people.
- Be grateful. When we slow down, we are more mindful of the amazing world we live in. Being grateful simply means feeling or showing appreciation. The world is a far more beautiful place when we fill it with positive thoughts about what we are thankful for.
By the way, I had to slow down to really understand what Bruce was saying to me. And then I had to slow down to put it into words. However, I know if you’ve read this far you’ve found some benefit in slowing down, yourself. I’m thankful to have made a connection with you, and I hope that it’s what you were needing today.