Our culture, and my Inner Viking, requires that we keep pushing to be successful. We think we must work harder, longer hours, lift more weights, run faster, struggle more, worry more, make more money, live in a bigger house, and my favorite, "push our kids harder to be successful". I think it's deeper than that, though. We correlate pushing harder with reaching a place of safety. As if when we get the bigger house, nicer car, or bigger paycheck, then everything will be easy. Only then will we be safe and secure.
Really? Do we have any evidence to back this up?
Is there really a perfect future where everything is "normal" with the perfect partner and perfect kids? This, my friends, is a delusion. When you get the bigger house, there's more to clean and maintain. And the mortgage will keep you up at night. The bigger paycheck means bigger taxes. The fancy car comes with higher insurance and maintenance fees. The hardbody comes with injuries, if you've pushed it past healthy to "feel the burn". And you lose a relationship with your kids, because every conversation revolves around effort and working harder, like "if you just finish your homework earlier, you could get better grades, and then, and only then, will I love you." Of course you don't SAY that, but, in my eight years of coaching teenagers, believe me, that's what they hear. I am an expert in all these ways of struggle, as I've done them all. And I'm here to tell you, there is a better way:
Step off the Gas!
This pearl of wisdom came from my Uber driver, Jeremy, on my first family trip of the summer to Washington D.C. Jeremy was telling me about his second job as a Big Rig driver, and that job has taught him a thing or two. But the following gave me a big, fat AHA moment. When he wants to change lanes, he has two choices. He can bully his way over, since he’s the biggest guy on the road. This works, but it’s unsettling to other drivers. Or he can just step off the gas, slowing gently with his blinker on, inviting the other drivers to let him over. Then they’re all in this together. They can decide to let him over, or he can slow to a stop until they do. He sends out a mental message, “Ok, guys, I’m coming over, and I’m in no hurry. This can take all day—it’s up to you.” Eventually they let him over, and they all go about their day a little more peacefully.
Same result; WAY different feeling.
Thanks, Jeremy, for a wonderful reminder of how to live my summer intention of Calm Connection. I stepped off the gas yesterday by reading a book outside with a glass of my favorite cinnamon apple tea, until it was too hot. Then I moseyed back and made a video to post on Facebook. That was the easiest video I’ve done all year. Was it because I had set up a feeling of ease by taking a break? I dunno. Why don’t you try Stepping Off the Gas for yourself (be sure and write how you choose to take a break on the Big Board at GPS or post in the comments of the FB video) and let me know how it goes by dropping me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.