Gaining and keeping perspective on "what is really important in life" is a skill that I am learning needs to continually be cultivated; gaining this perspective on occasion doesn't ensure its permanence. In fact, nothing is permanent. There are so many opportunities for getting micro in our lives - shaving seconds off our time for a PR; Budgeting to the dollar; Pretzel sticks or pretzel rods in lunches this week?; Shorts or running pants for my run this morning?; I said this, should I have said that instead? -- Yes, this moment to moment decision making is part of navigating daily life. But getting stuck here is a potential hazard.
What I realized recently while pumping gas - my fist gripping the lever as if that was going to make the gas flow faster (ha!) - was that we have to consciously and continually step back to remember what is really important; What really matters to us? After I posed this question to myself while standing there pumping gas, I felt my shoulders soften, I really noticed the sunlight hitting the dew on the grass, I felt a sense of gratitude for my health and that I was able to go out for a run on this brisk morning, and I remembered the soft expression on my daughters face as she excitedly bounced into school this morning holding hands with her friends.
Pausing long enough between all of our doing and micro managing of our lives to gain perspective is a skill that has to be cultivated. We have to train ourselves to regularly stop and ask: What really matters? It is even helpful to use clues from our bodies or something in our everyday lives to remind us to gain this perspective in that moment. The balance in life that comes from leveling out our micro thinking with a big picture perspective (imagine a see-saw with equal weight on either side) can be very freeing and peaceful!
So maybe for those of you who may have recently beaten yourself up over a few seconds after finishinga recent race -- you could also ask yourself: Did I have fun?