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25 June 2017Last updated
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Stop the train! I want to get off

Psychologist and founder of the Lighthouse Arabia Dr Saliha Afridi says she is fed up with being busy

Dr Saliha Afridi
17 Jan 2016 | 10:59 am
  • Source:Getty Images

“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 a ‘to do’ list and racing through life? When did my life become so busy that I hardly have time to enjoy it any more? I don’t even have time to get bored?

2015 was a year crammed with incredible experiences. I had a baby, travelled to the Greek Islands, read many amazing books, and expanded my team at Lighthouse Arabia. But, I was so quick to work my way through my bucket list that I forgot to actually experience it all, and the sad thing is that I don’t remember how I felt at these key moments in my life.

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 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 not about cramming each day to the fullest. It is about basking in the glory of each experience 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’ll start by clearing my schedule. 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 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 baths and enjoying the great outdoors. And, instead of behaving like a machine that’s constantly seeking the next best thing, I will start acting like a human who values the journey.

Now is the time to slow down and appreciate what we have. Enjoy conversations that slowly unfold, where there are pregnant pauses that we feel no need 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, from a child’s toothless grin to a run of green traffic lights on our daily commute. Everything – 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 2016 my resolution is to learn to do less so that I can actually get to live more.

Dr Saliha Afridi

Dr Saliha Afridi