We live in an all or nothing society. Either you’re a workaholic or a loser, obese or obsessed with being thin, young or old, smart or stupid. We judge each other and live by extremes, often without even thinking about it. And with over 41 million speeding tickets issued each year, our extremes don’t end at stereotypes and judgements, they mosey their way into our cars as well. How often do you speed? Chances are if you drive a car every day, you speed every day. We have the mentality that going faster moves us from point A to point B more quickly and therefore makes our lives easier.
But in this world of extremes, it’s often easy to think of our lives as stop or go. We get in the car, we speed to our destination, and we don’t stop until we get there. The same extremes exist in our eating. How many times have you said, “Well, I totally botched my diet at lunch. I’ll start again on Monday.” The same extremes exist in our work, “It’s pointless to try to achieve work/life balance. I’ll never be able to work less than _____ hours per week.” The same extremes exist in hiring for jobs, “What an idiot! There’s a typo on his resume.” But ask yourself, is your diet really botched because of one lunch, is your life always going to suffer at the hands of your work, should we judge a prospective employee entirely because he made a small resume mistake? Maybe we shouldn’t. But we do. And changing these habits may seem impossible.
This world of extremes lives and breathes in our daily lives. Self-help experts often suggest “letting go” and “conquering burnout”, directing us to combat our fast paced, foot on the gas pedal lives with exactly the opposite approach. Just stop. Don’t do what you’re doing anymore. Do something new and completely different. The easiest example is anyone who has ever “gone cold turkey” on a bad habit. Our all or nothing attitudes are encouraged even in our efforts to stop the “all” in our lives.
This incredible dichotomy is why a recent article by relationship expert Danielle Dowling makes incredible food for thought. Dowling writes about “The Necessary Brilliance of Easing Up.” She contends that stop vs. go, all vs. nothing is not only detrimental to our lives, but actually drives what we really want further away from us. Dowling advocates, when making changes in your life, not to see stop vs. go, but rather to see the “necessary brilliance of easing up.” If you can’t stop something all together, if you can’t go from 100 miles per hour to zero, then don’t. Instead, take your foot off the gas pedal just slightly. And listen to what you need in your life.
Danielle contends you’re not stopping all together, you’re simply easing up on the gas pedal of life for a moment to “Make space for the seed of your efforts to bloom.” So make the space in your life today. You don’t have to stop, just ease up.