The Benefit of Stopping to Smell the Roses [Slow Down Challenge: Day 1]

Note: This week, I’m writing a series of challenges to help you (and me) slow down and savor the good parts of life. Find out more about it here, and make sure you’re signed up for email updates so you don’t miss a thing.

When we live such frantic lives, we can end up moving from one thing to the next without really concentrating on anything in particular. We can hit the fast-forward button on life and not stop until the end. Which isn’t much of a life at all.

Smell the roses
Photo Credit: Jonathan Kos-Read via Compfight cc

Life is not a race. It’s a walk around the block, a casual stroll through the park, a deep abiding in where you are right now. Anything else is a facsimile, a farce, some cruel distraction from what’s most important.

It took the birth of my son to help me to stop and smell the roses, as they say. The introduction of a new life into our family made me realize how much I was missing.

When Aiden was first born, sometimes I would go on a short trip for work and when I would return, my son was a different boy. I had missed a lot.

As a new parent, I began to understand that cliche everyone tells you is actually true: it all goes so fast. But I don’t want this experience of raising a child to race by; I want it to drag on, deliberately and definitively.

I want to enjoy being a dad. Because I’m not waiting for this to be done; I’m not biding my time until the “good stuff” comes. This is it: the very best stuff life has to offer.

The reality is, this is true for all of us, wherever we are. Right now is the only time you will ever have. So it has to be the best — because it’s all you get. Better make the most of it.

Challenge: Notice

Slow Down Challenge: Notice

Take time today to notice the things that other people are overlooking (tweet that). Find a way to interrupt your busy schedule and enjoy what’s right in front of you.

Spend at least 15 minutes going for a walk — around the block, around the yard, or even around the office. As you do so, try the following:

  1. Look around (if you’re the praying type, ask for eyes to see).
  2. Take note of whatever catches your eye; concentrate on it.
  3. When you get back, write down what you saw.
  4. As you go through your day, revisit your list. Remember what you noticed and say a quick thank-you for each item.

This is a simple but powerful exercise to help you not only slow down but appreciate the things we so often miss or ignore. For example:

  • the way sunlight refracts through a glass of water on the kitchen counter
  • the squishy sound dew on grass makes when you trudge through it
  • the cute face your kid makes just before he smacks you right in the face (I’m speaking from personal experience)

These are not distractions from life; they are life itself. Let’s not forget or rush through them on our way to the next big accomplishment. Because in the end, these moments are all we have.

For more on this concept of taking your time and enjoying every moment, check out my new book, The In-Between, which is a call to embrace the slower moments of life (it’s currently 40% off on Amazon).

What do you see when you stop to smell the roses? Feel free to share what you saw on your walk in the comments.