A few weeks ago I fractured my right wrist in a bicycle accident the night before I was due to go on holiday, one in which I promised myself that I would finally slow down and relax. Instead I spent 21 hours in hospital and completely missed the trip.
The old me would have become angry, asking why and finding the timing cruel. But after many years of mindfulness I couldn’t allow myself to fall into that way of thinking. I told myself everything happens for a reason and that it would soon present itself.
In the first few days I was on a rollercoaster, swinging between gratitude for being looked after by my loved ones, to sheer frustration of not being able to do the simplest of things such as tie my shoelaces, wash up, take a shower, cook or type.
As a business owner I’ve trained myself to cram as much as possible into my days and when I couldn’t do things at the same speed or do as much, I felt anxious. Everything was slow, but slowly I started to think perhaps that was the point.
Suddenly I started to ask myself why. Why did I need to do so much all the time?
The more time that came between me and my busy-ness, the more time I felt I had and the more at peace I felt with myself. This is the paradox.
Time cannot be controlled. By controlling it, we cause it to feel scarce.
Time moves as we allow it to move. Time is as free as we allow it to be.
Now this might be easier to realise for someone who is forced not to work. But injury isn't a solution I’d advocate for people who feel they don't have enough time.
One of my coaching clients taught me a valuable lesson recently. She felt the burden of time, or lack thereof and when we looked at the amount of time she was dedicating to work versus leisure, there was a huge imbalance.
When you spend too much time on anything it will seem larger than it is. When we change our perspective, we change our world.
She committed to restructuring her days to give herself two hours when she woke up and went to bed just for herself without the distraction of work. When she came back, she was invigorated. By taking the time to fill herself up, she became less empty.
What fills you up? How much time do you dedicate to making yourself feel good?
These questions have allowed me to really look at the life I have built for myself and challenge what I see. Would have really have slowed down on this holiday or would I have crammed in as much as I could?
Is time more or less valuable in relation to what you do with it?
If the goal is to be happy then surely it doesn’t matter what it is you are doing with your time, its how you feel about it that lives on in your memories.
I realised I had been prioritising action and left no time for reflection. That I was missing out on valuable insights and not truly experiencing the fullness of my life. I have stopped trying to do two things at once, such as answering emails while speaking on the phone, and I get so much more pleasure from my actions for doing then one at a time. I've had more human interaction, which makes me more conscious of how others are feeling and able to respond to them in a more compassionate way.
Motion alone doesn’t bring meaning — that’s captured in e-motion. In a world that is fixated on action, we can often stop paying attention to our feelings. Without them we live our lives in a cycle of numbness. For me it's taken something extreme to change that. When will it be time for you to slow down?
In the words of the great writer Herman Hesse —
"The idea of hurry-hurry as the most important objective of living, is unquestionably the most dangerous enemy of joy. Do not overlook the little joys. My advice to the person suffering from lack of time and from apathy is this: Seek out each day as many as possible of the small joys as they are granted to us for daily relief and disburdenment."