I was recently caught speeding. It was one of those hand-held cameras that zap you when you have no chance of noticing it is there. I have no excuse. I was not in a rush, I was not late, I was not frustrated, angry or upset. I was just driving too fast. But why?
Having just spent a week away I have had a chance to reflect. I think I have an answer. For a week I have had no deadlines, no demands, no Email, no Facebook or Twitter, no phone calls, no meetings and no sense of feeling obliged or obligated to do something. As such, I return home calmer, I speak and drive slower, I am more patient, relaxed and friendly and I make more time to speak to people and to listen. In a reversal of expectations, I am also more productive, better able to focus and concentrate and as anticipated, less pressured.
On a day-to-day basis, I do not think I live a particularly stressful life style. I do jobs that I love and I have a lot of time and space to call my own to do as I please. Yet, there is a pressure that drives me to do more, start work earlier and finish later, take on another project, respond to Emails as I am having a telephone conversation or a conference call and rush from appointment to appointment at break neck speed. I think this pressure is a social phenomenon. Society tells us through advertising and social media to be busier, wealthier, more popular and more successful, to holiday more, party more, work more, be prettier and more handsome, sexier, fitter, stronger the list is almost endless. We feel that pressure and feel the urge to step it up another notch again and again and again. When is enough, enough?
I guess, if we are driven by the pressures laid down by society, enough is never enough. But if we can think seriously about what we want as much as about what we don’t want, then we are placing a pressure upon ourselves that is self motivated and internally driven. We are not isolated from society, nor do I think we should be. Through determining a self directed sense of what is important in life, we are better equipped to decide what goals, hopes and dreams can make us grow in a positive direction and those that do not. Society offers a spectrum of opportunities, some that may be to our detriment and others that may be to our benefit.
I do not blame society for my incident of driving too fast. It is my fault and it is up to me to moderate my behavior in all situations. My question is, does rushing and striving for more and more help us grow in a positive direction, or distract us from what it truly important? Could we rush less and reflect more and so become more thoughtful and considerate members of society and therefore become a more responsible and caring society as a whole?
Life is so busy and there are so many distractions that can pull us off the path that we have set for ourselves to achieve personal success and fulfillment. Perhaps we succumb to these distractions at a cost may be at the cost of our happiness or our health, but perhaps at a cost to the health and happiness of others. In my case, I may have hit someone with my car. The policeman who processed my paperwork on the side of the road let me go with a final sobering thought at the speed I was traveling only one in ten people survive being hit by a car. And all because I had got used to trying to do more to make myself feel like my life was more fulfilled and meaningful!