By Chris Croll
Here in Northern Virginia, we’re all about pushing play: Work hard, party hard, parent hard, sport hard, friend hard, go, go, go, achieve, achieve, achieve! This lifestyle leaves many of us panting with exhaustion. There is a secret known to uber-successful people that many say is the key to their effectiveness: Hitting the pause button.
How, you might ask, is not doing anything going to help us get more done? Consider these examples:
- A CEO of a major corporation meditates for an hour every morning before he starts his day.
- A best-selling novelist puts down the pen and doesn’t write a word for three months each year.
- A storyteller inserts long pauses between parts of a story.
Dead space. Sitting. Waiting. Ugh—do those words make your skin crawl? You might be a perfect candidate to try incorporating a pause into your life. Pausing can take many forms. Some turn to meditation to slow things down. By clearing your mind, focusing on your breath and just “being,” your resets thereby increasing blood flow to your major organs, including the brain.
Some people practice mindfulness by sitting in a chair for 30 minutes to just listen to the sounds around them, to notice the vivid colors they see, to smell the air they breathe or to focus on nothing more than the weight of their feet on the ground.
Other people actively incorporate hesitations before answering questions or when speaking to give them time to center themselves before reacting.
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In whatever way you may choose to implement a pause, the goal is to give your body systems an opportunity to reach optimal state. This can result in more effective, efficient and successful results once you are fully engaged again. This is what people tell me anyway—I don’t have the patience to try meditation or mindfulness myself. But these are both on my spring break to do list.
The one area where I have had success with pauses is in friendships. When things get too intense between me and a friend, I often take a short break. I don’t ghost friends or ignore their calls, but I do tell them I need to create some mental and physical space between so I can regroup. This is not about ending the relationship or even assigning blame, it’s about taking some time and space apart in order to reset the energy between us. Typically, when I re-engage with a friend after a pause, I am able to come into the relationship with a more open mind and open heart. Sometimes the friendship becomes stronger as a result of the break—sometimes not. But the pause allows us both to focus on what’s most important.
I encourage you to consider how taking a pause can help you in your life. Meditation, mindfulness, speech pauses and relationship breaks can help us get in touch with our true inner selves. After a pause, life becomes dictated less by inertia and the busyness of every day commitments and more by conscious thoughts and intentional engagement. Try pushing pause and see what happens for you. Share your experiences with me at ChrisCroll@aol.com.
Chris Croll is a parenting consultant specializing in educating and raising gifted and twice-exceptional children. She leads the National Center for Gifted Services and the nonprofit Loudoun County Parents of Gifted Students, and is a member of the Loudoun County School Board.