Ease Up on the Figurative Fast Forward Button

Yesterday I was sitting at a drive thru waiting for my iced coffee. I had two cars in front of me, but it was freezing and I had made an inappropriate jacket choice, so I didn’t want to get out and place my order inside (I drink iced coffee year round, I know I’m weird). The line was at a standstill. I found myself alternating between checking my phone, checking the time, and switching songs on the radio. After sitting in line for about 10 minutes, I almost just drove away.

Then I realized that I was being a nutcase for no real reason. Seriously, talk about 21st century problems. I didn’t have a meeting to get to. It was sunny out, even though it was cold. Why did it matter if I sat and listened to music for a little bit? Then I got to Fast_Forwardthinking about how many times per day that I rush through things for no apparent reason. I hurry off the phone to get back to work. I get aggravated when I hit a red light on the way to meet a friend. I fast forward through commercials, and get anxious if I’m spending too long at the gym. Then I look back on the week and can’t even fathom where the time went. It’s ridiculous when you think about it. Of course I don’t really know where the time went, I’m barely even conscious!

We’re so used to a fast society–speedy Internet, always connected via our phones–that we’re often living without really being present. We’re in a permanent state of fast forward. It’s so easy to move on to the next thing without fully taking time to enjoy the current thing; eventually there are no more things to enjoy because the day is somehow done already.

The other problem is this: being alone with your thoughts often feels sinful or illegal. We’re so used to having people show approval of our thoughts through a “like” or a retweet, that being in your own head for a few minutes feels unnatural. Because even when you’re by yourself in your car, you never have to really be alone if your phone is nearby. While this is great, it’s also getting us in the habit of not actually listening to our own inner monologues.

My goal for myself is to stop hitting fast forward all the time. Okay, I have to wait at a light. Fine. I have to wait to get my drink or to use the bathroom at a bar. Who cares? Traffic is backed up and I’m stuck for a little bit. So what? Instead of always mentally moving on to the next part of my day, I want to just take time to focus on what’s happening in that moment. Also, it’s not all about favorites or retweets or likes. Sometimes it’s okay to just have a thought and not share it (no matter how witty it may be) with your hundreds of followers.

Not only is this a healthier way to live, it also seems like it will help to fight stress. Of course you’re going to feel anxious if you’re always thinking about the next thing on your “to do” list or the next place you have to get to. Writing tweets in your head as soon as something happens is not exactly a relaxing lifestyle. When you just ease up on time restrictions and allow yourself to disconnect for a while, suddenly life feels more mangeable. This approach takes the pressure off, and is a more sustainable way to live. This is my new goal for myself. I think it may take some getting used to, but it’ll be worth it.

Do you lean on the horn? Get aggravated about long lines? Tweet everything, always? I think these are pretty common (but problematic) traits. Let’s do something about them.

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  1. This is SO true!! I find myself always anxious to get here, then anxious to get there, for no real reason. Living in the moment and trying to be present, even in traffic is a great zen philosophy that my dad has always pushed. It takes a lot of practice but I agree with you that it must be a better way to leave, and less stressful. Great post!

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