That's OK - I'm not in a rush

I pulled up to the 15-item line at the market and watched as a clerk came to open an adjacent lane. A man quickly pulled from a longish line into the new lane. The woman who had been ahead of him looked a little annoyed and then resigned. I caught her eye and asked, "Would you like to get in line here?"

She smiled, "No, thanks. I try not to be in a hurry."

"Me, too. It seems like it's just such a simple but good idea. It completely changes the way you interact with the outside world."

"Isn't that true," she replied.

It was so nice to discover a person with shared wisdom at the checkout line.

We chatted a bit more over the National Enquirer rack. Then we exchanged ideas on the little things we do to keep to that philosophy, such as starting out a few minutes early on every car trip, allotting enough time for tasks, or just stopping ourselves from hurrying when it's not really necessary.

When my kids were little, I would point out drivers who were weaving in and out of traffic and being rude or careless. Then I'd show them that same driver right next to us a few miles later. It helped them see that all that rushing often gets us nowhere faster. Now, as teenagers, they point out those same kinds of drivers to me.

Then, in the checkout line, a woman with only two items came in behind me and I urged her to go ahead of my 14-item cart. The "not in rush" woman and I had not finished visiting, and the two-item woman seemed so pleased and surprised.

I have a fairly busy life with work, two teenage children, and a house and yard to keep up. But none of this is helped by seeing myself as always in a hurry.

"So stressed" has become the generic No. 2 greeting these days: "How are you doing?" "Oh, I'm so stressed out."

We often respond even before we assess our level of stress. It has become automatic - as has this concept of ourselves as being in a big rush.

To break out of this takes a bit more than just changing one's self-concept. This change requires one to make new, if only slightly different, habits. In addition to having a small time cushion of five or 10 minutes, it helps to be realistic about the time required for various tasks. If the concern is that you'll have too much time to waste at the other end of a trip, carrying a bit of paperwork is a good idea.

Because I write, I'm happy to have a few minutes to jot down some ideas, reread a work in progress, or fill a journal page. But anyone can carry a book to read or a notebook in which to make lists.

Any extra time can be well used.

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