It used to be we tried to keep up with the Joneses, those ubiquitous neighbors who seemed to really have it all together. If Mr. Jones got a sports car, guess what? You did, too. But over the years, the rules of the game have changed. We now are not only trying to keep up with the Joneses. We are also just trying to keep up with ourselves.
According to British psychologist, Dr. Richard Wiseman, the overall pace of life has increased by 10% worldwide since the mid-90's. In some places, it has even increased by 20%. And in the case of Singapore, it has increased a whopping 30% in the last decade and one-half. Wiseman points to technological advances as a possible explanation for our collective sense of urgency. The immediacy of communication has informed our time perception. At present, ‘now' has become the new yesterday. As a result, we are left time-crunched, stressed, and overwhelmed. Despite the rise in stress-induced illness, we continue to pound the path in a furious race to our imaginary finish line.
But what are we racing toward? Chances are if you were to stop and really think about it, you wouldn't come up with satisfactory answer. You might find an explanation (I don't have enough time; I have too much to do; I am so stressed out!), but those reasons are not the root of our frenzy. They are merely the symptoms of a much larger issue at hand. The true cause of the race is our sense that time is a-wastin'. We think we don't have enough time; consequently, we do not. In the paraphrased words of Shakespeare, nothing's true but thinking makes it so. If we were to embrace time-abundant thinking, my guess is we'd all be a lot happier, too.
The next time you feel harried, try this little trick. Imagine a world in which the turtle wins. He may appear to be doing a lot less than his friend, the rabbit, but what he is doing is much more productive. He's got his eyes on the prize. So while Mr. Hare hops frantically from one place to the next, Mr. Tortoise is plodding along at a sustainable pace. Don't believe me? Just remember: the average life expectancy of a domesticated rabbit is eight to twelve years. The average life span of an American Box Turtle? One hundred and twenty-three!
In my world, the turtle wins. Hands, claws, and paws down.