The more we learn about connection, the more we learn about the factors that hinder it. And it turns out that many of our society’s most ingrained habits and behaviors provide a fast track to disconnection. One of the worst of these connection killers is rushing.
Practically everyone we know rushes at some point or another. We hit snooze a bit longer than we should have, so we race to get showered and dressed and out the door in time. An appointment ran longer than expected, so we step up the gas and run the yellow lights getting to the next one. We’re hungry and impatient so we throw our health goals out the window and grab whatever’s convenient (read: junky fast food), hoping it’ll turn out fine. Unfortunately, it often doesn’t. And just as unfortunately, our rushing blocks us from connecting with ourselves and our surroundings.
One of our favorite psychology experiments about rushing is nicknamed the Good Samaritan study. The subjects were seminary students who were asked to prepare a short talk about either seminary jobs or the Good Samaritan parable in the Bible, and then walk a short distance to the location where they would give their talk. On that particular stretch where the students would need to walk, researchers planted a man slumped over on the ground, groaning in apparent pain. Before taking this walk past the “injured” confederate, some of the students were told that they were late and should hurry. Another group was told everything was ready and they should head right over, and the third group was told they had time to spare, but should head over anyway.
You’d think that seminary students, of all people, would stop to offer help to a stranger in need, wouldn’t you? Especially if they were about to talk about the Good Samaritan. But only 10% of the “late” seminarians stopped to offer help. One participant even stepped over the slumped body in his haste!
This experiment is one of the best demonstrations of how easily situational pressures can overwhelm personal values in guiding our behavior. Rushing to get somewhere on time, we forget who we are and what really matters to us. We no longer see our priorities, or other people’s needs—all that we see and prioritize is our rushing. In our state of tunnel vision, 90% of us do not live according to our values. We break the rules we want to live by, and hurt the people we want to cherish.
This rushing-induced disconnection is avoidable, though. All we have to do is readjust our thinking a bit, and plan ahead. Here are three suggestions to eliminate most rushing from your life:
- Be realistic about the time needed for meetings and travel time, and always build in adequate cushions for traffic and unexpected delays (like misplaced keys, full parking lots, or toddler tantrums on the way to school). Wishful thinking about travel time is often the reason we wind up late.
- Always add 30-45 minutes to your airport transfer time, to ensure you can be calm, rational, and polite with whatever situation you encounter. If you wind up not needing the extra time, you can always use it to reconnect with yourself through brief meditation, listening to music, or stretching your legs with a short walk.
- Get real about scheduling. If you see too many calendar appointments stacked too closely together, solve the problem by rescheduling or canceling rather than racing to meet them all. When you build in cushions between appointments, you open the door for extra discussion, reflection, analysis, follow-up, or preparation for the next meeting—and also for the chance to take drink of water, check in with yourself, or mentally catch your breath before racing into the next commitment. By loosening up your schedule for these essential tasks, you also help ensure all your appointments will be more productive and enjoyable.