I did the Peachtree Road Race a little differently this year than in the past. Three months after the birth of my third son, I embraced it as an opportunity to have an experience more so than to achieve a goal. Or maybe it’s that I just revised the type of goal to which I was striving. This time, I approached it less as a competition and more as an experience to enjoy. As the swishing ponytails of fit twenty-somethings in American flag running shorts whisked effortlessly ahead of me, I simply put one foot in front of the other, moving my body at my own pace, and paused to take in all that was around me. Never before had I noticed the building that said “exhale” on it. Never had I stopped for the free icees and free t-shirt.
Toward the end I saw a woman with a kind face holding a sign that said, “Breathe deeply, with appreciation for this moment.” A man yelled out, “Does it get any better than this?” I reflected on a time in graduate school when I’d been out running and sensed that God was telling me to “slow down.” I slowed to a walking pace and took in the message, and that week I cut three things out of my schedule that had been pushing me beyond a healthy balance between school and anything else outside of school.
So I revisited the question of what it means to slow down today as a psychologist and mother of three. I am realizing that it is mostly about investing in people rather than focusing on the endless list of things that need to be done. The pleasant side effects of these meaningful connections are a renewed ability to focus and accomplish, a more balanced perspective, and less worry.
We benefit from slowing down to fully enjoy the possibilities of the moment. The anxiety of tomorrow can wait. The rumination of yesterday can be left alone. Today can be embraced.