A while ago while rushing to catch the train I tripped. I fell flat on my face with my left arm bracing the impact, and my left shoulder has been slightly off since. It was such a ridiculous fall that it got me thinking. Did I fall because I was running?
I’ve took up running (after my dad) since I was about 13/14. There’s only one time I can remember in recent memory of tripping during a run, and that was while sprinting at 6am in the dark, and even then I had fallen over badly broken up pavement.
It then dawned on me that speed has little to do with the reason I tripped and fell while rushing to the subway. It had almost all to do with my state of mind.
Rushing State of Mind
When rushing, there’s some sort of overwhelming sense of urgency that kicks in that blocks out our normal mental state. Whether it’s something small or big. The rushing state of mind leads to tripping, not noticing something fell out of your pocket, and so on.
I don't think a study is needed to claim that it's likely that a higher percent of people who rush end up falling or lose their keys, versus the percent of people who are just going for a run.
All things being equal though—yea, if you’re rushing or running, the faster you rush or run may likely lead to more tripping.
The main cause of the tripping or lost keys, however, is the state of mind. And what exactly is this state of mind?
There’s probably a lot of neurobio that could be said about the chemical signals and hormones involved when rushing. That would just be a fine tuned explanation though of the rushing feeling that’s already fairly understood. My own quick one line definition for now: rushing is varying degrees and flavors of stress and tunnel vision in the pursuit of some goal.
As for why humans developed have this tendency? An evolutionary biologist might say because years ago when running away from tiger we needed to just run away from the danger, or run towards safety, and not think of anything else.
What's this 'better' running state of mind alternative though?
Running and Letting Go
As I write this I’m very tempted to go off on a ‘mindfulness’ tangent. That ‘mindful’ running is the answer to rushing.
But the reality is, when it comes to getting somewhere quickly, mindfulness is not the best answer. Mindfulness a big plus–if you can notice the beautiful trees or smell the fresh bagels from the bakery as you run towards the train, that's great. But that will not help you get to the train faster or injury free. Why?
Mindfulness is not the opposite mental state of rushing. Just like some might say love is not the opposite of hate. Indifference is. Similarly we could say that the opposite of rushing is not mindfulness, but a mind indifferent to the rushing.
So in other words—ditch the rushing mindset. Let go.
Let go of the worry "what if I miss the train". Let go of the vision you're replaying of missing your meeting and your boss being upset. Remind yourself that rushing itself doesn't help you get to where you need to go. Running does. And let your mind just get back to its normal state as if you were moving quickly for any other purpose (say, on a run). If being mindful of other things helps you let go of the rushing, that's great way to approach it too. In the end, you might find yourself getting places faster, free from carrying all the weight of the rush.
Yes, we're pretty hardwired to rush. But at least from personal experience, and seeing other people around me–it's an inborn habit that we can still manage or ovveride. I still catch myself rushing places, but I'll often short-circuit it early and enjoy a little run.
Running in Life
Beyond physically rushing places, I think this applies equally to rushing or running in life.
There are times we want to get to things quickly. Whether at home, at work, between friends or family. Whether it’s ordering making dinner when you have to meet up with someone. Or a bigger life goal. Run, but dont rush through all of it.
Sometimes we don’t have a goal at all, but we’re we want to ‘experience it all’—and feel a sense that we need to rush through things. Whether that means rushing at an amusement park to go on all the rides, rushing through a museum to see all the exhibits, or just rushing in life to experience every beautiful part of the world.
You can live as fast as you want while limiting the rushing state of mind.
And for those that love the smell of roses–you can still stop and smell roses while running in life. (And quite literally–there's a lot of rosemary bushes around here and during a workout I'll often stop to pluck off a piece of rosemary or just rub it between my fingers to take in the aroma.) Just as you can still admire a beautiful view while running 6mph on land, or flying 600mph in an airplane.
Walk or run, skip or swim, row or ride through life. There's so much to enjoy.
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