Existential Psychology

Good Things Take Time

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Do you remember the days of the dial up modem connection? You would sit there waiting minutes for a single picture to load and it was excruciating, but everyone accepted the situation because that was our reality. These days if an entire page doesn’t load in just a few seconds, feelings of irritation bubble to the surface and you quickly bounce away to some other site. We are obsessed with increasing speed, with saving time by streamlining processes and by constantly acquiring technologies that let us get the job done more quickly.

This is all well and good except that in our race to make everything speedier and speedier, many in our culture can’t help but take on the global mentality that fast equals good and slow equals bad. They race around like chickens with their heads cut off and fool themselves into believing they are being really productive, juggling several projects at the same time, proud to call themselves multitaskers, and life passes them by in a whir of frenetic activity. It’s like Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you might miss it.”

The real problem is that there is nothing worth doing in the human sphere that doesn’t take a long time, that doesn’t take patience, dedication, and hard work. The reason to speed some things up is to give us more free time to mindfully pursue our endeavors, but what happens is that we end up lumping all of human life under the same rubric, where how fast we can complete tasks is the most important indicator of whether we feel good about ourselves and whether these tasks are even worth pursuing.

Really one of the most important indicators in whether endeavors are worth pursuing is the reverse, that in general it takes most people a long time and a lot of perseverance and there are no shortcuts. These are the activities that end up making us feel powerful and fulfilled because they give us the chance to develop our human capabilities over the months and years. They eventually become the parts of our lives that we use to define who we are at a core level. Being able to do things quickly is only good if it means freeing up the time for you to do other things mindfully.