by Dr Saliha Afridi
  • 3 minute read
  • June 21, 2021
Living Life From The Inside Out With Dr Saliha Afridi: Life in the slow lane

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” This line from the classic 1980s movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off recently stopped me in my tracks. Why have I spent the past year dashing from one appointment to the next, checking off items on a ‘to do’ list, and racing through life to get to the finish line? When did my life become so busy that I hardly have the time to enjoy it any more? And whatever happened to a world where I had the time to get bored?

2020 was the best of times and it was the worst of times.  Yes, there was the start of a pandemic which is now starting to feel more like an endemic, it was also a year where I, along with my team at The LightHouse Arabia, served the Middle East community’s emotional and mental wellbeing needs, my kids showed their resiliency, my father retired and moved close to my home, my niece got engaged, I read many books, took many classes, we created version 2 of The Smart Heart Board Game, and so much more.  But, looking back at it all, I can hardly remember how I felt during all these times. With my sleeves rolled up and my head down, I made it through the to-do list. And the problem is that yes, I made it through the list, but no, I don’t think I actually experienced it.

I don’t think I’m alone. Far too many of us focus on trying to live life to the full and keeping our sights on goals and achievements. We have a fear of missing out on life and letting time pass us by, so we think the solution is to plan more and keep ourselves busy. But why? We are so caught up in a whirlwind of dates and appointments that there is no room to experience deep emotions or build precious memories. We spend so much time planning the expected, that we fail to enjoy the unexpected.

It’s ironic that in an age where technology has made our lives easier and faster, we seem to have less free time to simply ‘be’. Mobiles, tablets and the internet have all made us so fanatical about keeping up with a million different things at once that we never give our minds time to rest. We never give ourselves time to really live in the moment and experience true happiness – a lasting happiness that comes from within.

Living life to the fullest is actually not about cramming each day to the fullest. It is actually basking in the glory of each of the experiences you engage in.  So as we enter a new year, I resolve to enjoy life in the slow lane. How will I do this? I start by clearing my schedule and going back to basics. Instead of taking my happiness from the checks on my ‘to do’ list of experiences, I will give myself the time to enjoy, absorb, deeply cherish and savour those everyday moments in life. Instead of caring about possessions, goals and the next book on my reading list, I will concentrate on slowing down, playing with the kids, taking long warm baths, and enjoying the great outdoors. And, instead of behaving like a machine that’s constantly seeking the next best thing and the next great adventure, I will start acting like a human who values the journey and exploration in the tasks of every day.

Now is the time to slow down and appreciate our life for what we have. Enjoy conversations with people that slowly unfold, where there are pregnant pauses that we feel there is no rush to fill. Take a walk along a beach or street because it is a place that we cherish. And look for the joy in the simple but amazing things that surround us every day, from a child’s toothless grin to a run of green traffic lights on your daily commute, from flowers blooming in the garden to a bowl of homemade soup for dinner. This is the difference between eating and tasting, seeing and appreciating, breathing and living. They say that less is more, and for 2021 my resolution is to learn to do less so that I can actually get to live more.

Photo: Andreas Selter for Unsplash

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