My brother and I were walking down the street in Tel Aviv, at a fast pace, talking about the idea of sharing beautiful experiences with someone special, when he said: “… like, for example, the eyes!”
“What eyes?!” I was puzzled.
He pointed to a captivating painting of the eyes left by someone on the sidewalk.
I was so focused on getting to our destination quickly, that I completely missed the unexpected art, and the joy that came with it.
Several children of my friends went through the college applications process this year. These bright, talented, driven teens were anxious about their prospects, as they compared themselves to kids whose resumes look something like this: interned for NASA, published an article in an academic journal, volunteered at a hospital in a third world country, performed in violin competitions, play chess, competitive athlete, got top scores in numerous AP classes, achieved flawless GPA and ACT/SAT scores to match (this is one kid’s resume, not a collective).
When I asked one of the moms, whose daughter’s resume resembled the description above, how in the world it is possible for a 17-year old to accomplish all this, she replied:
“Everything is accelerating these days. You have to keep up if you want to get places.”
“Everything is accelerating to get where?” I asked.
“To get to a top college, to get a job at a top consulting firm…”
She is not wrong, but “top college” and “top consulting firm” are only two of the many, many places worth getting to, and those two are not THE places to everyone’s liking.
When I ask parents what they want for their children, they often reply that they want to see their children happy, healthy, financially secure, and surrounded by good friends.
Can one accelerate to happiness, health, financial security, and friendships?
Ask yourself whether it is possible for you to take a deep breath, and let all those accelerating children and adults rush by, without feeling inferior. These accelerating people are not on a “straight path to The Best Place”; they are just on some path to some place they believe is good for them.
They can’t get ahead of you because their happiness is not your happiness, their makeup of financial security is different from yours, their health situation is not comparable with your health situation, and they are not accelerating to “meeting your friends” before you.
How do we know that we won’t be “left behind”, if others seem to be accelerating, and we don’t keep up?
– Follow your curiosity, as Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, suggests, and curiosity will lead you to passion (or, in the worst case, you’ll spend your life pursuing things that really interest you).
– Slow down, as recommended by many accomplished TED speakers, to understand what is meaningful to you, to become more creative, and to experience life rather than zip through it.
– Cultivate close relationships, as they will make you happier than money or fame, according to the longitudinal Harvard study on what makes a good life.
– Develop both your ability to think critically and to sense. The first will help you navigate through situations where relevant, useful and accurate data is available for analytical assessment. The second will help you wayfind (or “know as you go”) through uncertainty, and situations in which feelings matter more than calculations.
– Choose wisely to whom you compare yourself. Wealth, for example, is highly subjective, and so is the notion of success, happiness, accomplishment, and wellness.
One of our athletic kids qualified for Junior Olympics – an honor and a great opportunity. The event dates coincided with the dates for a trip we’ve been planning with friends and family.
We sat in front of the computer, waiting for our kid to decide to which destination we should purchase the airline tickets. He chose a trip with friends and family, with a hope to earn a place to participate in the Junior Olympics in the future, and so we went.
Some parents in our competitive sports community gasped at this choice: our son is “clearly” missing an opportunity to accelerate as an athlete. Yet, our kiddo didn’t “get behind” anyone; he is simply on his own path, navigating life in a way that is meaningful to him.
When you hear someone say “everything is accelerating”, before deciding whether to keep up with the acceleration, consider where you want to arrive. Consider whether you want to be the first one to finish your dessert, or be the one to truly enjoy the taste of every bite. There is no wrong answer, just an answer that is more harmonious to you personally.
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Would you like to talk about any of this? Would you like to share how you are dealing with “everything is accelerated these days”? Please, send me a note, Alina@AlinaBas.com , or schedule a conversation for us at http://alinabas.com/get-started/ .
JUST FOR FUN:
Although our kid missed the Junior Olympics this year, we did manage to make it to an international tournament in Rome last month, where we enjoyed mountains of gelato (for which I’ve been paying in the gym). Then, on a trip to Israel, we got to meet cousins with whom we don’t speak any languages in common (but it didn’t keep us from connecting), ride camels, climb Masada, pick lemons, breathe in the air of Caesarea, and just Be.
I would love to hear what gives you joy these days, and what keeps you going. Please, drop me a line at Alina@AlinaBas.com .