Slow Down. You Move Too Fast.

In the last blog post The Simplicity of Saying I’m Sorry, we analyzed Elton John’s classic song from the 1970’s, “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” And we thought long and hard about the word “sorry” and how such a small word can have such a big impact. For this post, I’m going to do something similar with a revised line from Simon and Garfunkel’s 1960’s hit “Feelin’ Groovy”: Slow down you move too fast, you got to make the (moment) last.

Why Are We Going So Fast?

Let’s take a moment (no pun intended) and think about the importance of pace on this journey called life.

Most of us experience life on a daily basis at warp speed. But why? I would venture to say it’s because society tells us this is the norm. We’re somehow conditioned to believe that if we don’t go through life pedal-to-the-metal, we’re going to be missing out.

But missing out on what? Getting that great job? Making new friends? The 24-7 news that everyone else is on top of? I would venture to say that the race to nowhere is primarily making us miss out on our sanity.

Why We All Should Slow Down

Racing through life, as we are told to do, isn’t good for any one of us. Here are just a few of the good reasons why.

• Moving at warp speed is both mentally draining and physically unhealthy. It doesn’t give our minds or bodies ample time to rest.

• Feeling obligated to race for something … anything … sets emotionally unrealistic expectations. We’re being set up for failure and that will lead to us ultimately feeling badly about ourselves  

• Continuing to function at a dizzying pace gives us little time to take notice and appreciate the little things that make life special.

Make Yourself a Promise: To Slow Down

So what’s the answer?  I think can be found in the title of this blog…

Slow down, you move too fast….You got to make the (moment) last 

Now this doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and retire tomorrow on a beach somewhere (although if you can, lucky you!) What it does mean is that you should take a few moments every day to … well … enjoy the moment.

Think about the times each day that you feel most rushed. Maybe it’s running to work in the morning. Or it’s scrambling to get the dishes done after dinner. Make yourself a promise that next time you feel that anxiety — that stress that comes with running at warp speed – you are going to stop, take a deep breath, and find something in that moment to appreciate.

Your mind, and your body, will thank you for it. And you won’t miss a thing.

The Simplicity of Saying “I’m Sorry”

When I was writing the last blog post… It is what it is or is it, I started thinking about another saying or phrase that I’m not sure I totally buy into. That would be the title of one of Elton John’s classics from the 1970’s: “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” In fact, I would venture to say that saying “I’m sorry” should be one of the simplest and easiest actions you can – and should – take.

What Elton John Gets Wrong … The “When” of Saying I’m Sorry

In listening to the song (and in particular, the lyrics) multiple times, I noticed that one stanza caught my attention and it goes…

It’s sad, so sad
Why can’t we talk it over?
Oh, it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word

Is it possible that Elton John (and songwriter Bernie Taupin) made a common human error in writing these lyrics? Namely, they didn’t lead with the apology.

Following the train of thought in the song, the lyrics say, “Why can’t we talk it over?” Then they go on to note that,sorry seems to be the hardest word.”

To me, the reason why we (or Elton) can’t talk it over is because we/Elton didn’t lead with “I’m sorry,” and then suggest “let’s talk it over.”

Sometimes it’s the order that matters.

The Simplicity of Saying I’m Sorry

Let’s put the song lyrics into a real-life situation. When I’m upset with someone, the last thing I want to do (at least initially) is to talk to them about it. So, ”why can’t we talk it over is not even in the cards in the beginning.

However, if that person gets in touch with me and simply says, “Hey bro, I’m sorry for whatever…” no reason or excuse is needed or wanted at that point. As a matter of fact, I think the less that is said the better, at least in my case.

In short, an apology doesn’t have to be long and drawn out. It doesn’t need to involve explanations about what happened or trying to make it up to someone. All it takes is a little self awareness, honesty and a few simple words: “I’m sorry.”

Why It’s So Important to Apologize

Anger, conflict etc. in your life creates internal turmoil and stresses the body. It’s as if you are walking around with a weighted vest on and that’s not healthy for the mind or body. That’s not good for either the person who made the mistake, or the person who was hurt by it.

When you have situations in your life where you did somebody wrong, find it in yourself to apologize. If this allows you to reset a relationship, great. And if the response to your outreach is negative, you will have peace of mind knowing that you did the right thing, and then move on and don’t look back.

How often in life can two simple words have so much impact?

It Is What It Is … But Is It Really?

I was thinking about a phrase that I first heard my Aunt Madeline say 20+ years ago…It is what it is. Within the last five years, this phrase has become fairly commonplace in both work and social settings. But is believing it potentially harmful and disabling? Let’s examine.

So What Does It Really Mean?

When I hear “It is what it is,” my mind immediately goes to the famous quote by Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  

Sometimes, I also think about the famous Will Rogers quote: “If you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.”

There’s a theme here, and I’m not sure it’s a good one… It’s one of dejection and acceptance. That type of mentality doesn’t empower you to improve yourself or your life. It makes you feel like a victim.

Real Life Examples

Let’s say you are frustrated because you just can’t lose that extra weight you’ve been carrying around. Should you just give up and say, “It is what it is (i.e. there’s really nothing I can do about it)? Or is the answer to seek professional help to create a personalized plan to lose the desired weight?

How about your perceived dead-end job? Are you locked into this profession for the rest of your life because it is what it is? Or is there a possibility that your professional skill-sets and passion may be better suited for a different employer or career choice?

Then there is the “Ground Hog Day” of your love life. You know, where you experience the same less than desirable outcomes in your relationships over and over and over again. Are you destined for a life-time of unfulfilling relationships because it just is what it is? Or could it possibly be a question of changing your parameters to achieve a different end result?

The answers to these examples (at least to me) are obvious:  If you are unhappy with your weight, develop a nutrition program and exercise. If you are unhappy with your career, find a job that better suits your strengths and passions. And if you are unhappy with your relationship prospects, then raise the bar for yourself and your “target market.”

So, Is “It Is What It Is?” Harmful?

Here’s my perspective … It doesn’t matter whether it’s a health, professional or personal matter. I truly believe that you have the power to influence — if not control — the outcome of these scenarios.

I don’t buy into the helplessness of it is what it is.

If you’re unhappy with a certain aspects of your life, then there is no better time than the present to start making the desired change.

In these cases, I venture to say … it is what you make it.

Anticipation: A Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

When I hear the word anticipation, it makes me think of two things. The first is the old-school Heinz Ketchup commercial. The second is Wayne Gretzky’s famous quote when asked: “How do you score so many goals?”

Let’s take these one at a time and see how they may apply to a greater sense of satisfaction in every-day life.

Anticipation (in the World of Ketchup)

A Heinz Ketchup advertising campaign in the 1970’s used the famous Carly Simon song, “Anticipation,” in all of their TV ads.

“Anticipation, it’s making me wait. It’s keeping me waiting.”

In this context, I choose to look at its meaning as I would the word patience–looking forward to a future occurrence.

The hope for the ketchup is that it eventually comes out of the bottle and onto your food. In every-day life, anticipation is about looking forward to [fill in the blank] — a summer vacation, a new car, going out to dinner with friends, attending a sporting event or concert etc.

But life is not ketchup. And while it’s perfectly understandable to anxiously await your ketchup hitting your burger, that may not be the best way to think about more important things in your life. I believe it is important to enjoy the journey or the process, too, on the way to your destination.

It’s like the old saying, “Stop and smell the roses.” There is greater meaning and a greater sense of satisfaction at the end when you’ve enjoyed the journey.

 Anticipation (from the Mouth of a Hockey Superstar)

Wayne Gretzky, arguably the best hockey player in history, has a very different view on anticipation. He was once asked by a reporter:  “How do you score so many goals?” He famously replied: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” In other words, anticipation.

What a great response (and visual) to describe his goal-scoring philosophy. Wayne would put himself in the best possible position, based on his decades of hockey knowledge and game-day experiences, to positively impact a future occurrence. In this case, it usually referred to scoring a goal.

In Wayne Gretzky’s world, it’s important to not only be aware of where you are now, but also where you are going. That’s anticipation in the most productive, positive sense.

So Is It a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

Anticipation is a part of life. Everyone thinks about the future at one time or another. Sometimes it’s in a good way, and other times it’s in a less productive way.

I believe that the key to happiness and success is finding the right balance between “anticipation” and “presence.” In other words, enjoy today and prepare for tomorrow. It will make for a great journey and an even more satisfying result.