Live your life on purpose . . .

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Life in the Slow Lane

Everywhere you go these days, people seem to be in a big hurry. Take a look at traffic, for example. "Rush Hour" used to happen from around 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Nowadays, the pattern continues all day, seven days a week. Drivers often become angry with those trying to keep the speed limit, as if their need to get somewhere fast should be a justification for breaking the law. Road rage frequently occurs because of impatience, selfishness, and a growing need to go faster and get there quicker than other motorists on the highway. In spite of all this rushing around, it's interesting to note that most who do so may trim only seconds from their arrival time, at the risk of accidents and increased stress levels.

It's not only driving that we tend to do in a hurried fashion. Look at our eating habits. The term "fast food" has defined how some of us tend to fuel our bodies, gobbling down whatever we can grab from a restaurant window in the comfort of our car. And then we continue on our way to wherever we're going, not taking the time to sit down at a table and give our food the attention it deserves. Eating at home is oftentimes not much better. With everyone's busy schedules, it's difficult to plan a meal that an entire family can sit down and enjoy together. One might find family members eating in shifts, and unfortunately, the evening meal might consist of carry out food, since nobody had time to cook. It's no wonder that we are becoming a nation of obesity, eating disorders, and alienation from others.

I know that I have probably painted a pretty grim picture of how life is for many, but there is a solution for those willing to try to do things differently. We must simply slow down. Instead of racing around town to get somewhere, leave earlier and allow yourself enough time to accommodate traffic slowdowns and unforeseen circumstances. Trust me, you will arrive in a better mood, if nothing else. When you decide to have a meal, take time to sit down at the table and focus on nothing else but the food in front of you. In other words, don't eat in your car, don't try to talk on the phone or read the newspaper while you are eating. Just enjoy your food and savor every bite. If possible, prepare something simple and fresh, rather than eating high fat, high calorie "fast food". I've found that a little weekly meal planning and some advanced preparation goes a long way toward having nutritious food on the table. You and all your family will benefit from this. Speaking of family, try to make it a top priority for everyone to meet for dinner at least three times a week. Turn off the cell phones and television and just talk, eat, and enjoy each other. Soon, you'll find that everyone will be looking forward to the family meal and relationships will improve.

These are but a few ideas for slowing down, but even if you only implement these, you will undoubtedly notice a change in how you feel both physically and mentally. Your stress level will decrease even more if you can find other ways of mindfully changing your pace. Take a tip from lyrics to a popular song heard on the airwaves years ago, but relevant to what I'm saying here: "Life in the fast lane will surely make you lose your mind." Consequently, life in the SLOW lane will surely help you to retain it!

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