Today, I want to talk about the importance of slowing down. Yesterday, I popped into the local shops to grab a few items for my wife. At every shop I went to, when I attempted to leave, I was struck by the impatience of other drivers. They flew through the parking lots, cut behind cars as they backed out, and in one case, even failed to stop for a pedestrian trying to cross the road.
This is unfortunately not an aberration from the mean, it is in my experience almost the default mode of behaviour for many of us. How many times have you observed a fellow driver allowing their impatience to influence their behaviour in this way? How many times have you been guilty of the same? How many times have you decided that the marginal convenience of arriving 10 seconds earlier had priority over your community’s safety? How many times have you cursed the same? I’d bet the answer is too many times.
What if, instead of desperately fighting for the illusionary gain of a few seconds more, we all practiced the virtue of patience. What would happen if you slowed down and put your community’s welfare first, let other cars in and out of parking lots, let cars merge off the freeway and even gave way to pedestrians? What would happen? Firstly, you would begin to feel more relaxed and happier, and secondly, your example would begin the work of making our communities better places to live.
You can try this for yourself. Next time you are doing a school run or driving on a clogged road where traffic is entering in from a side road, instead of trying to gain those illusionary seconds, slow down and wave the car ahead of you in. The other driver will most probably light up in a big smile, and nine times out of ten, the car behind you (and the car behind them) will follow your example. This is the power of the pursuit of virtue.
Now, imagine if we did the same thing in every aspect of our lives. What if we slowed down and put our families first? What if we took the time to look after those in our communities? What if every day we recognised that this could be our last and slowed down to actually live it? Maybe we’d notice our partners and kids need more and find the wisdom to help them. Maybe, if we stopped chasing illusions such as money or success, we’d discover that happiness would catch up with us.
For all we know, today is our last day, let’s slow down a bit and actually live it. We are never guaranteed more than today. None of us knows when we will die or what disasters may strike us. We know on waking only that, for this day alone, we are alive and able to act in such a way as to benefit our families and our communities. It is our examples alone that can achieve this good. So, practice patience and the other virtues and slow down.
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