Slow down

July 21, 2017 17:31
Slowing down gives us time to reflect on ourselves and be of help to others. Photo:

I've just spent the past week in the US and even though I lived here during my studies, I'm still shocked by the vast amounts of space, large food portions and the number of TV channels that are available. But one thing that stands out to me most is just how kind people are. People will open doors for us, let us go first in line and ask us how our day has been. It's like a breath of fresh air from being in a busy bustling city.

And aside from the fact that I'm in a holiday mood, it's having people treat us with such kindness that has put me in a good mood. When someone smiles at me, I want to smile back. When someone opens the door for me, I want to open the door for the next person. It's truly a ripple effect.

And what I realise is that everyone has the capacity to do the same thing. We just need to slow down. We need to slow down to look at what others need. We need to slow down to lend a helping hand. We need to slow down to even notice what is going on around us.

We go about our lives staring at our iPhones, listening to music plugged into our ears, rushing from one place to another, trying to beat the clock in all that we do. It's all understandable and necessary in some cases but it's making us stressed and probably making others stressed, too. If we can teach ourselves to slow down, we can probably be much happier and make others happier, too.

This applies to children, too. Children are often rushed from one place to another, constantly stimulated, and taught to think about themselves but how often do they slow down to reflect, to think of others and to help others? Showing them this when they're young will help them do the same thing when they're old.

Slow down to reflect

In the busyness of our days, we sometimes just plough through and barely make it through to the end of our day before we collapse into bed. I know that's true for me. But it's important we slow down to reflect -- to reflect on how we're feeling, reflect on how our day went. What was the best part of your day? The most challenging part? What would you have done differently? How does today affect your choice tomorrow?

Slow down to think of others

Do we have the time to even notice what is happening around us? Slow down to think about whose birthday it is that day, or who may be in hospital and need a prayer, or even to acknowledge the gratitude we should express to someone. Think of what others are going through that day and show that you care. It can be as simple as writing a post it note to your child to wish him a good day or sending a text message to a friend who is going through a hard time to let her know you're thinking of her. Cultivate kindness by first thinking of others.

Slow down to help others

Helping others takes time but doesn't have to take a lot of time. Keeping a lift door open for someone who's rushing into the lift, letting someone with a child go first in line to the bathroom or opening the door for the next person behind you doesn't have to take a lot of time but it does require slowing down to notice and to take initiative to help.

So how will you slow down today? How will you be kind to someone around you? And how will you show your child how to slow down and be kind? The ripple effect can start with you.

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Founder and Principal at JEMS Learning House