Have you ever noticed how hard it is to be compassionate while you are in a rush?
When I am in a hurry, I get this feeling like I am leaning forward and I need to keep moving not matter what. When something inhibits my progress I get tense, frustrated, and, sometimes, angry.
My sons seem to slow down on purpose when they sense that I am in a rush. Like many of you experienced parents have told me over and over, our children are here not just to learn from us, but also to teach us.
After numerous episodes of screaming, time-outs, and dragging, I’ve finally learned to slow down. Does it really matter if my son is late to kindergarten? Will it adversely affect my 3 year old’s brain development if he misses one “Circle Time” at his preschool?
Part of the problem is that I’ve always been a very punctual person. Even when I was 12 years old, I used to get up at 4 am to deliver newspapers because one crazy old couple insisted that I “porched” their paper by 5 am. I prided myself on my punctuality.
Can you hear the problem? Pride, ego, inflexibility.
My new goal is not to be a punctual person, but a compassionate person instead. A famous study called the Good Samaritan experiment conducted in the 1970s suggests how being in a rush decreases compassion. Seminary students at Princeton University were assigned to deliver a talk on the Good Samaritan. On their way to the presentation, the students passed a person slumped over and groaning. Only 10 percent of the students stopped to help when they were late, while six times as many helped when they were not in a hurry.
We live in a world that seems to be running on fast forward 24/7/365. One of the reasons I choose to meditate everyday is to disconnect from the rat race. I can tell the days that I need to meditate more because I hear a voice in my head say, “Maybe I’ll just sit for 30 minutes today; I’ve got so much to get done.” Will shaving 10 minutes off my meditation really make the difference in accomplishing everything I “have to do”?
Much of my stress to be productive stems from my future goals to be able to provide for my family. But what good is providing money for my family if I cannot shower them with compassion? I don’t want to be that stressed-out father who buys his son the biggest ice cream cake available without realizing his son is lactose intolerant.
I’m not saying we should be irresponsible and show up late for everything (No, Honey, I’m not talking specifically about you). But on the days where you happen to be running late, what if you chose to cultivate compassion for yourself and others? What if you drove slower than the speed limit and let other cars in your lane. You’re already late. What is a few more minutes going to save?
I say we schedule in buffer time. We can call it compassion time. When I pick up my son at school, I put aside a good 30 minutes for playing around, throwing paper airplanes, saying goodbye to his friends, and talking about dead bugs on the sidewalk. Yesterday, his teacher looked stressed and asked me if I could help re-arrange the classroom for a presentation. Since I had buffer time, I helped move tables, vacuum the floor, and arrange chairs. Maybe next time my son is late, she will show some compassion and let him slide. 🙂
Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or smiling.
Do you think about punctuality or compassion on a daily basis? Are they compatible? Why or why not? Please share.