Could it be that the secret to being a kinder and gentler person is to simply slow down? A research experiment looked at how rushing and being in a hurry affects how we relate to others in need. The results may astonish you.
This valuable study was done by John Darley and C. Daniel Batson and was based upon the idea that most human beings would stop and help a person in need, often referred to as a “Good Samaritan story.”
In this experiment, a group of seminary students were told that they had to walk across campus and deliver a lecture on the Good Samaritan story. The seminary students were divided into three groups, and one at a time, they were given instructions.
The first group was given their instructions and then were told: “You’d better hurry up. You’ll be late for the presentation.”
The second group was told: “You’d better hurry. Your program starts in a few minutes.”
The third group was told: “Well, you might as well head on over to the auditorium. Your presentation doesn’t start for a while, but we are done here with the instructions.”
On the way over to the lecture hall, the students had to walk past a man lying on the ground (who was part of the experiment), sprawled out, obviously in pain and groaning. The students practically had to step over him to enter the hall. Did these seminary students on their way to talk about the Good Samaritan story, stop to help a man in obvious pain? It turns out that the results depended on the group the students were in.
Only 10% of the first group asked the man if he needed help, but 63% of the third group stopped to ask if they could be of assistance. Why did those in the first group step over the injured man, while those in the third group stopped to help?
The researchers concluded it had something to do with being in a hurry and focusing on their presentation, rather than being a Good Samaritan (how ironic!). The rushing and “don’t be late” inner voice activated the students’ me-centered focus that overtook their kind and compassionate self.
Today’s lifestyle is obsessed with being in a hurry, drowning in urgent emails, and getting to the next meeting. Modern life has become dominated by being in a hurry. It’s like we are all racehorses with blinders on the side of our eyes, trying to stay in our lane so we can run faster.
We identify with the scenario in this research and, while we like to think we would stop to check on the sick man, we also know we can be guilty of being in a hurry a big part of the time.
A powerful way to break the fast pace is to develop some form of contemplative practice, such as meditation and journaling, that supports your Creator essence to flourish. When you slow down, you increase your self-regulation by pausing and being more intentional about creating positive relationships with others.
Learning to transcend this hyper-rushing drama means setting boundaries and learning to say no. When you do, it is easier to remove the blinders, look around, and see others as Co-Creators who might benefit from your support and conversation. Pausing, slowing down, and taking a few deep breaths will help you stay more anchored in The Empowerment Dynamic and less likely to slip into the Dread Drama Triangle.