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Slow Down, Look Up, and Feel the Beauty

The Power of Slowing Down to Take in Your Surroundings

I'm the type of guy who's always in a rush. I don't like to spend time waiting when I can be doing something or achieving my next goal. But I have recently come to realize my big mistake in rushing towards things: I go too fast and look down too much to find positivity when I could really use it.

I started to notice this a few months ago on a random afternoon walk in my city. For whatever reason, I glanced up at the top some of the old buildings where many businesses are located. It took me by surprise just how pretty they could be compared to some of their lower faces. After that teeny epiphany I kept looking up a little more to see what other little beauties I could spot.

It turns out there's a lot more beauty out there to discover if only one is open and looking for it.

The more I looked up, the more I wanted to stop rushing so much to get where I was going so I could admire these little things for a couple seconds longer. And the slower I went, and the more I looked up, the more beauty I found.

This outlook has been really beneficial at times when I have been caught up in major projects or work of some kind. It has allowed me to find a bit of a relief from the negativity that can accumulate over the course of a few busy weeks. Really what the act of slowing down and looking up has become is a reminder to be mindful, and to be aware of the positivity that's surrounding me.

I believe this can apply directly to anyone's life. With people being as busy as they are in today's society it can be easy to forget to take the extra second and think about things or to take a beat.

Slowing down to take everything in paradoxically won't slow you down with your goals. In fact, it can give you the boost you need to make that next step, or the inspiration you need to break through that writers block.

For example, a couple weeks ago on my afternoon commute from school to co-op, I stumbled upon a window display of positive sayings. I didn't stop to really look at each of them individually though until yesterday, and it was just what I needed. One of them gave me a great idea for my yearbook quote because I've been struggling to come up with something good.

"Your mind is like a parachute; it works best when opened."

It's something as seemingly insignificant like that someone might never notice. But being conscious of your surroundings could literally change your life. Think of how much time is spent commuting by car, train, bus, feet, bike, whatever. Now think of what goes through people's minds during this time. How much of that brain space is taken up by worrying about what's to come, or obsessing over things that cannot be controlled? Then think of what would happen if people could be more mindful, and think more outward instead of inward. They might spot something new they hadn't noticed the first 400 times they took that commute, and think, "hey, that's neat!" That small observation could completely change how they see that space, and how they observe other spaces.

This idea comes from the stoic philosophy. It's quite fascinating really and I recommend doing some reading on it. They are generally seen as stone cold people who have no emotion. But really they are so incredibly able to distinguish what is out of their control and what is in their control. This notion of being mindful at all times allows them to see the beauty in life, and not to dwell on the matters that are out of their hands.

It's the small things in life that really make the difference. Being mindful is the first step to seeing them.

So please... slow down, look up, and take in the beauty.

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