3 Simple Remedies for Hurry Sickness

7 Sep

Yesterday morning I had to be at work extra early for a meeting with my boss. As I scrambled around getting ready, my wife asked me to turn the air conditioning down a few notches. She thought it felt too warm in the house. A quick glance at the thermostat revealed she was right – and that our AC had broken for the second time in about five weeks.

I fretted about the bill that might be coming as I dashed into work and pulled out my laptop. But, for the first time in nine years, my laptop wouldn’t fit into the docking station on my desk. I muttered some things I won’t repeat here. Then I raced down to the meeting. There, my boss mentioned he would be leaving town at lunch and needed the updated draft of a speech pronto.

After the meeting, I raced back to my desk and called IT for help with my laptop. The phone rang a moment later, but it wasn’t IT. It was my wife calling to report that our son somehow fell out of the car in the drop-off line at school. What?! No harm done, though.

I looked at my computer, now stuck in the docking station, and thought about the speech that I needed to fix immediately but couldn’t until the computer started working and my thoughts continued to spiral out of control. Then I looked at the clock. It wasn’t even 8 a.m.

And already I’d fallen into the clutches of hurry sickness.

In addition to being a societal plague, hurry sickness is also an actual medical condition, defined as “a malaise in which a person feels chronically short of time, and so tends to perform every task faster and to get flustered when encountering any kind of delay.”

It was brought to my attention by Dr. Matt Merrill, pastor of Little Falls Presbyterian Church in Arlington, Va. We attended one of his services while visiting family over the weekend, and his sermon left an impression on me – although apparently not enough of one.

As a resident of the Washington, D.C. region, Merrill lives in the very heart of ambition and busyness. He’s an everyday witness to what happens when we squeeze too much activity into too little time, and it’s not good – for our health, our faith, our relationships or our pursuit of calling.

He recommended three everyday steps for slowing ourselves down and experiencing a little more of life, instead of plowing right through it like we usually do. His guidance is so simple – and yet so challenging – that I had to share it here:

  1. At meals, chew each bite of food 10 or 15 times. Actually taste it.
  2. At the grocery store, pick the longest line and then let someone go in front of you. And while you’re at it, say a prayer for that person.
  3. On the road, get in the slow lane. When traffic merges, let a few drivers in front of you instead of racing to cut them off. Say a prayer for them as well.

So the next time the AC breaks, which will probably be within the week, I’ll try to let go of my obsession with getting it fixed as fast as possible. Maybe turn on the fans instead, have a popsicle outside with the kids, appreciate the relative relief that evening brings and the fact that everything doesn’t have to be an emergency.   








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10 Responses to “3 Simple Remedies for Hurry Sickness”

  1. Greg at Tiny Bit Better September 7, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    Man…how often I could be diagnosed with hurry sickness. Thanks for a nice gentle reminder of something important that I’ve far too often overlooked. AND for tangible steps to do (thanks to Dr. Merrill).

    • Stephen September 12, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

      Greg — thanks as always for reading! One unintended consequence of my efforts not to hurry so much over the past week is that I’m behind on responding to commenters here.

  2. marti September 8, 2012 at 3:09 am #

    So…I’m sure this is beside the point but I have to know if you got your computer fixed! And is E ok after his fall? I wish I had that on video :)

    • Stephen September 12, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

      Hey Marti — by now you know that E emerged unscathed from his spectacular fall out of the car. There haven’t been any repeats. As for the computer, all I needed to do was hit an unlock button that fixed the whole thing! Used it this morning in fact when the same thing happened.

  3. Val September 8, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    Great post Stephen… Did you write for me this morning as I rush out the door looking for my keys? :) I heard somewhere recently that most misunderstandings happen because we are not taking the time to read or listen to each other I the first place due to hurry. I also try to thank people if they have been grumpy or short with me or hurried- it seems to help put them at ease and is kind of like a active prayer of you will. It works :)

    • Stephen September 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

      Hi Val — really nice insights here. Thanking a grump is not easy to do — but I applaud you for it! “Active prayer” is a great phrase for it.

  4. Hiten September 10, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    Hi Stephen,

    Wonderful post!

    I loved the three pieces of advice. Number 3 reminded me of something I do in the mornings. When I’m saying prayers to myself while driving to work, I’ll say a prayer for random drivers driving past me and for the kids walking to school.

    • Stephen September 12, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

      Hiten — your habit of saying prayers like that is a wonderful detail I didn’t know about you. You need to explore that more in a post on your blog; or maybe you have and I’ve somehow missed it? Either way, would love to read more about it.

  5. Galen Pearl September 11, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    Great advice. In fact, I’m going to pass your link on to someone I know who says that one of her blocks to happiness is not having enough time!

    • Stephen September 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

      Hi Galen — always glad when you chime in here. Thanks for passing along the post; I know more than a few people like that as well! Been working hard at slowing down over the past week and it really does make a difference.

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