Dear Ones —

We are often told to slow down, in order to better enjoy our lives.

We are told to stop and smell the roses, and to pay attention to the little things, and to take time for simple pleasures.

This is all very true and very good.

But I've recently come into a new level of understanding about slowing down — which this: Do not necessarily rush through the bad stuff, either.

I learned this curious lesson from my friend Rob Bell, who told me this: "“Don’t rush through the experiences and circumstances that have the most capacity to transform you.”

Often the experiences and circumstances that have the most capacity to transform us are the most worst and most difficult experiences of our lives — the failures, the heartbreaks, the grieving, the disasters.

For evidence of this truth, Rob suggests, try answering this simple question off the top of your head: "What are the three or four things that have happened to you in your life, that most formed you into who you are today?"

Think about it for a moment.

I'm wiling to bet that most — if not ALL — of the things on your list were "bad" things. The trauma of abuse or violence that you somehow survived. The betrayal that you overcame. The divorce that you lived through. The addiction that you finally beat. The death in the family that taught you never to take life for granted. That time when you got fired, and had to build an entirely new existence for yourself from scratch. That time when you got arrested, and finally had to acknowledge that you were out of control. The loneliness and isolation that you suffered in a new city or a new country, when you were trying to expand your horizons through travel. All the shame that you had to work with, in order to become a better person. All the emergencies that have called you into being.

The worst things that ever happened to you are very likely the things that have created you into YOU — or, at least, these are the things that have the potential to transform you completely….and maybe even for the better. As long as you don't rush it, that is.

This is not to glorify suffering in any way, but only to say — the most painful parts of our lives can have remarkable transformative properties.

But we want to rush through those horrible things, because they scare us and because it hurts so much. We want to shove it all under the rug and ignore it, or gloss over it, or pretend it never happened, or just MOVE ON as fast as possible.

What my friend Rob has taught me is to try to have the courage to SLOW DOWN a bit, and stay with the process — let it do its work on you, and look for the ways in which destiny might be inviting you to transform.

It reminds me of what my favorite meditation teacher, Pema Chodron always says — that most people (MYSELF INCLUDED!) quit meditating as soon as it becomes difficult…but in so doing, they miss the best part. They miss the part when you sit patiently through the difficulty and end up on the other side of it — having discovered some deeper, richer, more powerful aspect of yourself in the process.

I see people do this in regards to creativity as well. They quit being creative just as soon as it gets difficult, and thus they miss the amazing emotional unfolding that occurs when you endure the difficulty of invention, and finally solve the puzzle.

I myself often run away from emotionally challenging confrontations or conversations with people, because I'm terrified of the discomfort. But when I can discipline myself to slow down and stay with the process, I am often rewarded by coming out stronger on the other side — and sometimes saving a relationship, to boot.

So slow down. Slow down not only for joy, but sometimes slow down for the difficulty, as well. Life is in session, and life is always trying to teach you something.

Don't rush through any of the lessons that you are being offered.

All blessings, and ONWARD!


ps – image credit:

via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall