Three words I hope to hear (and say) less often in the future: “I am busy.” It’s good to have plans and be active, but contrary to popular belief, too much of anything is counterproductive.
Dr. Janos Hans Selye, an internationally renowned endocrinologist who is known for his work on stress, found that we each had a comfortable range of stimuli and we functioned more efficiently when we were within this range. Too much stimulus, or overstimulation, pushes us beyond the top end of our comfort level, and too little stimulus, or understimulation, creates boredom. Both of which trigger a stress response in our body.
In our fast-paced world, we often just roll with things without lifting our foot off the gas pedal. Overscheduling, overexertion and overwork all force us beyond the upper end of our comfortable stimulus range. We forget to pause. Learning the art of the pause can bring more happiness, health and energy into our (and others’) daily lives.
1. Avoid the mistake of the intellect
In Ayurveda, an ancient form of healing, there’s a concept called the mistake of the intellect. It refers to a state of mind out of which we act unwisely. These actions can be due to lack of awareness of the right action, lack of courage to follow proper conduct or intentional disregard for the correct behavior. There are many ways the mistake of the intellect may manifest, ranging from rudeness and backstabbing to abusive and addictive behavior.
Pause before you speak. Speak when your speech brings value, not when your ego wants to prove itself. Listen to hear first, not to respond first. Take a step back and ask questions before aimlessly moving too far ahead.
2. Reset your biological functioning
“Listen to your body” has become one of those clichés you hear in yoga class and read in meditation articles. But do we really know how to listen to our body? Are we really in tune with it? Rushing through our day without deliberately pausing and resting our attention on the present hinders the ability of our body and mind to efficiently digest and assimilate the foods, thoughts and emotions we absorb and dispose of all that doesn’t serve us. Over time, this will create unhealthy substance buildup in our body and invite diseases into our lives.
Pause between activities. Take a moment after meals to help your digestion and do not hold back any natural urges. Do not burn the midnight oil and get plenty of sleep. You’ll be much better off in the long run.
3. Live with compassion
When we are constantly running, we fail to see what lies beneath a hurtful word or action. Pausing helps remove ourselves from any stressful situation and take on an outside observer’s perspective. As an outside observer, we can find more compassion towards the other person as well as towards ourselves. When we untangle our feelings from the situation and truly try to understand the other person, we’ll find that our outreach with compassion will change the conversation. And compassion towards ourselves sets us on the path to self-acceptance and self-love. Once we learn to accept and love ourselves, the way we see ourselves will change. And in return, the way others see us will change, too.
Pause to find compassion. Do not mistake compassion for lack of boundaries. Be compassionate but draw your boundaries.Pause before you speak. Pause before you act. Pause to find compassion. Click To Tweet
As we head into the new year, let’s promise to pause before we act for our own and for our fellow human beings’ sake.
Image by Sergey Torbik, Pexels