Slow Down, Look Up
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Health and Wellness

Slow Down, Look Up

Don't get caught in your busyness.

Slow Down, Look Up
Jessica Abbott

I recently started learning the ukulele. My friend started teaching me, and I was anxious to learn. After establishing some chords, he taught me a song: "Oceans" by Hillsong United. He and another friend tried walking me through the song by singing as I played. While "Oceans" is a beautiful song, it’s incredibly slow, and I continuously sped up the tempo, trying to rush through the song. In order for the piece to work, though, it must be performed at a steady pace that allows for the song’s full impact. Knowing my own tendencies, this was not an easy feat for me. In fact, I may have abandoned the effort and had him teach me another, faster-paced song.

The problem is that I am obsessed with the rush of life. Not because I’m an adrenaline junkie, but because I am enslaved to efficiency and productivity. I live believing in the myth of busyness, that being busy is productive and crucial to success. I’ve given into the mindset of hustle, which says that we must do everything quickly so that we can move on to the next thing. Efficiency, productivity, busyness and hustle all have a place, it’s just that sometimes it should be under our shoes instead of in the front of our minds.

We get caught up in these ideas and lose sight of anything else. School, work, socializing, hobbies - we are surrounded by them and only see them as boxes to check off on the day’s to-do list. When we allow life to overwhelm us with so much and we don’t give ourselves time to process it, we forget why we’re doing any of it. We forget the purpose we had when we first started pursuing a certain major because we’re so caught up in getting a twelve-page, single-spaced paper on space exploration done in time. We abandon the meaning of relationships, resorting only to platitudes and pleasantries. Everything we do has a purpose, and busyness strips us of it and leaves us with an empty shell of activity.

Life needs purpose again. In order for that to come about, we need to minimize the mindset of “hustle” and adopt what I call “slow down, look up.”

Slow down.

Rushing from class to a meeting to work to the library, back to class, then the dorm, and on and on and on – it’s exhausting. My engine is always going, and I’m always going at full speed, even when I’m just sitting and doing homework. Even when I don’t seem to be doing anything. The thoughts never end, because there is always more to be done and thought about. I have to write my research paper, then do research on this poet for a biography, then read the mythology textbook, then – then – then. Unless I actively stop myself, the thoughts don’t stop.

To end the seemingly endlessness of it, you have to tell yourself Slow down.

Just breathe.

Walk to class a little slower. Use some time in the morning to actually enjoy your coffee instead of guzzling it down as you head out the door. In a stressful moment, stop. Go outside and take in a deep breath of fresh air and reflect. Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Maybe you need to plan time in your day to slow down through taking up a hobby, learn a new skill (ukulele, anyone?), journal, or read a book. Do what you have to in order to give yourself time to control your thoughts, instead of allowing them to run rampant.

Look up.

As you slow down, look up. I’ve adopted this from my personal love of the sky. In a moment when I need to breathe, I look at the sky and notice as much as I can. I take in the shades, especially at sunrise or sunset, note the movement and placement of the clouds, enjoy whatever landscape is around me contrasted with whatever is above me, and just breathe.

Look up at the ceiling in your office building and count the dots you see.

Look up at your light fixtures and notice the details.

Look up at what you don’t typically notice and calm down for just a moment.

Slow down. Look up. Don’t allow life to consume you any longer. It can be far too easy to give into the need to be busy, to the thoughts of how much there is to get done, and forget yourself and your purpose. Do your job; do not abandon your responsibilities. But also don’t abandon yourself and your needs.

Slow down. Look up.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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