A Walk in the Woods:
Lessons on Slowing Down
* Photo courtesy of Lisa Woods.
I don’t know about you, but slowing down is not an easy task for me.
I even find myself gravitating toward checking my “work emails” and social media posts in off hours, on the weekends, and even on vacation.
While I do not think these things are “wrong” in and of themselves, I have had to make a conscious effort to detach from my phone and lap top now and then. And what happens when I do?
I feel weird!
I mean, it feels weird to be away from them right? I can’t be the only one
My wife and children offer reminders (often unintentionally) about the importance of taking time back from my normal connectedness to my “smart phone.” Yes, I just put “smart phone” in quotes.
Supposed to make my life easier, right? Doesn’t always feel that way.
I have made a few intentional decisions over the last couple of years that have helped me take care of my soul and become a human being, not a human doing.
1. Go for a walk… and don’t bring my phone
I love going for walks. I often do this with my wife and two children. We walk around the neighborhood and look at all the holiday lights. Our street has a lot of people with the holiday spirit. My 2 and 1/2 year old is particularly happy about that
It is easy to bring my phone along. But many times I intentionally leave it behind. I do feel a little odd when I do, but the distance helps me. It helps my soul. Going for walks alone are also helpful. Without my phone. Just me and… well… me. There is something settling about it. I start off antsy, but then as things settle in, I feel far more relaxed, focused, and energized. Give it a try!
2. As yourself “Why am I doing ________ ? (insert any draining life-piece)
When I sit down and really think about the “Why” being things, it helps me gain perspective. While there are many things I do in life that are not fun for me (e.g. drive to work, get up early, etc.), many of these are needed.
However, many things in your life may not be needed, but we continue involvement with them for all sorts of reasons; guilt about not doing it, people pleasing, etc. In these moments it is important to take inventory of your life and where you want to spend your precious hours, minutes, and seconds. At least I can say that I have found this helpful.
When I was studying for my doctorate in clinical psychology I would often thing… “Why am I going to 5 years of school after undergrad!” But then I would think on what I was passionate about in life and how, in the long term, this was helping me achieve my goal of educating myself so I can best help people.
At one point in my life I was driving over an hour to and from work. I enjoyed what I did and the people I worked with, but the drive was draining me. When I sat down and asked “Why am I continuing in this job?” I did soul searching and discovered that it was taking too much out of me and my family. So I made a change.
3. Consider the souls of the people you love around you
This is one of my favorite life lessons. Sometimes I just sit back and stare at my wife and kids. It probably looks weird as I probably have a goofy smile on my face. But I look at them and I see them laugh, play, and just be. It is beautiful.
I think back to the early days of dating my wife and the wonderful person she was then, and even more wonderful now! I think about how we welcomed each of our two children into this world and the early days of sleepless nights (still have some of those).
Running down the hall to their rooms to help comfort them when they cry in the middle of the night. Just yesterday I watched my daughter “do ballet” (as she says) around a restaurant after she was finished eating. Ha! The “dad” part of me paused before going to get her and bring her back. I saw her joy and wonder. I couldn’t interfere. It was beautiful.
Take time for you. Not to do things, but to be. Pause. Observe the beautiful and wonderful souls around you.