Do you have deadlines to make? Goals to accomplish? Are you running out of time?
We often find ourselves as humans trapped in the midst of chaos between past and future.
Equally as often we realize not that our chains were shackled by ourselves, but instead point fingers to the excuses that are as abundant as the wealth we would like to create.
Life is not a sprint. This we know intuitively. Yet still heart attack is how many will end their lives- the question being, is the heart naturally so fallible, or is it that we are pushing our hearts too hard for too long?
Covering the beauty of each moment is a layer of stress and importance. We must “do this now,” yet fail to realize that the very thing which we wish to do can only be accomplished in the future. What happened to now?
This undercurrent of anxiety is pervasive in almost all cultures that I have observed around the world. The wars of the 1900’s are over, yet our hearts carry the stress of the past and the fears of the future.
Perhaps in a fleeting moment it feels as if this sense of fear is accomplishing something.
In 2018, I boasted once of finally achieving the “4 hour work week.” But each hour was filled with an intense, manic stress- I had to strain to focus. Had I relaxed my pace, the 8 hour work week would’ve been significantly more fulfilling than the 4 hour work week. Also, I could only achieve it for one week at a time.
Anyways, it left me feeling not well. There was more I knew I could do- achieving such a feat did not feel good, and so I read obsessively book after book trying to fill the hole in my life. Not even love could fill me back up.
What I failed to realize was the lack of sustainability in my habits and life patterns during this time.
When I worked, it was like a manic sprint to get to the end. It was all about trying to get it done as soon as possible.
An hour of work for me likely equated to multiple hours of work from others. Sometimes that is still so because I force myself to focus so intently.
On one end of the pendulum, you have those that brag about their 80 hour work weeks yet they fail to be productive in any. On the other you have those who sell themselves short and sprint as fast as possible during each minute they must work.
What does this accomplish, for both sides to rush obsessively to the same end? The heart, not in it for either method of life, puts out eventually.
Heart disease is the leading source of death yet perhaps we’re killing ourselves before we ever died. If the heart isn’t in it, it’s only a matter of time until reality catches up with how the heart feels.
The great lesson I’ve learned recently is to stimulate less, rush less, do less, all at the same time going farther.
Instead of anxiously rushing through each hour, enjoy each second of it, focusing on the breath and enjoying the moment. Take breaks to appreciate the flowers, the people, the sun.
In the end life is a marathon. Anyone who is coughing by the first mile of a marathon is certain to not complete the marathon, but those who run the first mile with relaxed attention are certain to complete the marathon.
In the past I worked like a maniac. It wasn’t the elusive “flow state” or “deep work” that is talked about today, but instead a state of anxiety-induced energy… An obsession to finish and get to the end now.
I would take a look at what must get done, and then proceed to rush through it as fast as possible. Sometimes my work suffered, though sometimes I produced quality work- it just wasn’t that fulfilling.
After a few hours I could accomplish more than what most people could accomplish in an entire day. But I would be wiped out.
It would then be hard to clean, make plans, feel inspired, or do anything. The sense of anxiety would pervert all areas of my life. I had to get laid “now.” I had to run faster “now.”
Many of us forget that the sprinting method was only to be available on unpopular occasions, such as when a lion was about to eat us, or when a deadline needed to be met.
Like the gluttonous creatures we are, we abused this ability and made it the norm. For many, gluttony is the most popular deadliest sin of today’s time.
I believed that because I was not fat I was not gluttonous, but oh I was so wrong.
I indulged too much in travels that burnt me out, worked anxiously until burnout, and over-stimulated my brain with social media and even self-help garbage.
Entering Slow Motion
It’s a tough lesson to learn, but one day it clicked. Sometimes the anxious energy sneaks up on me, I must be aware to relinquish it before it takes hold of me like a ship in stormy waters.
Instead of rushing so quickly to get my work done, I try to make a point of walking slowly. Of appreciating the moment.
Today I enjoyed a coffee, and tried to drink it slower, appreciating the wonderful taste it had.
There were flowers on the road, a mountain view at the end of the road, and new bookstores opening up. My Bulgarian is so good, yet I pretended to understand and looked at the books.
The flowers were captivating and appreciating their beauty brought with it a sense of calm and peace that people spend their whole life looking for.
In every purchase, every mission, every minute I was searching so hard for this sense of fulfillment. I walked so fast down the street to each next destination looking for peace, yet there were flowers lining the streets ready and willing to share with me the beauty they had to share all along!
It’s no wonder we’re killing our planet- we have eyes yet are blind to what our Earth is excitedly trying to share with us.
If the flowers could speak, they would cry- “why don’t you appreciate me?” They spent their whole lives growing into wonderful specimens just for us to rush right past them anxiously searching for the very gift they offer to us.
When you take that minute- just one minute- to appreciate their beauty, you do indeed lose a minute, but you gain the energy to work for a whole extra hour!
If you work slower, appreciating each moment of your work, you gain the ability to become fulfilled from it, work longer, and in the end go farther.
It is truly like the sport of running. If you sprint 400 meters as fast as you can, you are certain to collapse and be unable to run the rest of the mile. But if you jog calmly the first 400 meters and the other 3 laps, then you are certain to complete the mile with ease.
Connecting With Self
How many people do you see in the metro or on the streets walking calmly, with no stimulation?
No, we are already cyborgs. We had it wrong: we don’t own our phones, they own us.
It is they who choose whether we shall watch YouTube, become angry on Reddit, see photos on Instagram, or listen to music.
It took me so long to realize that this is not alone time. It is not time with others and it is not time alone- you are becoming the music, becoming the photo, or becoming the Reddit.
In each becoming, you are not with yourself. You do not feel your emotions or hear your thoughts. They become numbed out.
Today I started by playing some music on my headphones, but then observing how it disconnected me from myself, I chose to turn the music off.
The constant stimulation gets to be too much at times. It’s never enough!
When I decided to go inward, to my own emotions & thoughts, I felt calmer and better than before. It turns out that my joy was really found from within, and not from addiction called “phone.”
In going inward, I also went outward. The birds sang to me, the sun shone on just me, and the mountain offered its grounding presence to me.
The subtle things became the big things. What I was once blind to, I became one with.
I’m starting to see that many of life’s problems are not really problems. They all share the root cause of a lack of self-connection.
You don’t need advice from YouTubers or Reddit. You just need to disconnect from that, reconnect with yourself, and then those thoughts and feelings with naturally sort themselves out.
Organization & Preparation
With the anxious rush that is so prevalent today we often find ourselves lacking in organization and preparation. Alternatively the pendulum swings to the other side, and we do nothing but organize and prepare- but fail to act.
In my past I’ve either talked so much yet acted to little, or acted too fast and suddenly without care.
A fine balance of yin & yang is required to go far, or to go anywhere. To do so requires you to slow down and not get jammed on one side of the equation.
Every night it is wise to prepare for the day that is to become. This anxious energy assumes that future and past are here now, but truly relaxing in the now means that you acknowledge the future is not here- but instead you can prepare for it, and when it comes, act in the new now.
Through slowing down, organizing, and acting slowly yet certainly, the possibility to go very far becomes a reality.
Achieving goals is no longer difficult because a little progress is made each day. Alternatively, a lot of progress is made each day- but it is no longer through an anxious, obsessive energy!
I observe in myself so often that I will burnout by rushing things so fast. I’ll try to work too hard and fast. The wiser thing is to slow down and focus on the marathon so I can actually complete the marathon.
Smell the roses, appreciate the beauty of each flower. They are asking for it. You are asking for it, but you can’t even hear it amidst all the noise!
Let go of constant stimulation. Reconnect. Love everyone, and yourself. Relax. You need not arrive NOW, for it is each step that matters anyways.