We are truly creatures of habit – but not all habits serve us. We let our lizard brain – our brain that defaults to fight-or-flight reactions – take over in much of what we do. Though this is designed to help keep us safe by hightailing it out of there or defending ourselves, we also have a more developed section of our brain that allows us to respond instead of react.
When we react, we let our default behaviors take over – many times it is the one that criticizes, finds fault, sees the negative, assesses and challenges. This is truly our lizard brain at work. It wants to always defend and protect us, so we build ourselves up by taking others down.
But if we took only 10 seconds to shift out of react and into respond, we could snap out of autopilot and show up; we could think. This is the time it takes to more intentionally review what is going on and choose to see things differently. We could choose to use our greater and wiser brain – the one that can see the bigger picture – the one that understands we are part of a world that must allow others to have their place; the one that knows we are all connected. This greater brain allows us to consider options including kindness, compassion, patience and love. We have the ability of stepping out of our fight-or-flight reaction if we learn to take the 10 seconds to respond – to think it through.
Ten seconds is all it takes to connect to your better, bigger, kinder person and not critique, bully, insult or hurt another. Ten seconds is all it takes to see that a kind response of holding a door for another, allowing a car to come ahead of you, share a water or change with a homeless person. Ten seconds is all it takes to notice the wind through the leaves, the smell of a wood stove, see the newly sprouted daffodils, and really enjoy the taste of a piece of homemade apple pie. Ten seconds is all it takes to notice the cyclist with the flat tire along the side of the road, the lost dog, or the stranger needing some help.
Tune in to see reality – the world in front of you. It has things for you. For them, it asks one thing – spend 10 seconds, then respond. And in that time, you can move from autopilot to active thinker. You can move from life spectator to life participant. You can move from life critic to life changer.
I’ll admit I am (scratch that) I was always in a rush – not finding time to move from react to respond. One day, a neighbor stopped me as I got out of my car – wanting to chat. In that moment I noticed a heavenly smell of roasting espresso beans from the local coffee place just up the road. It instantly brought me back to my days studying in Florence, Italy. I was so taken by it that I shared it and my story of Italy with my neighbor. Having lived in this place for several years, he asked how I had noticed it before, since it was the afternoon ritual at the coffee shop? I never took the 10 seconds to show up to the moment – to have the amazing gift of a trip back to Italy brought on by the smell of roasting espresso.
Ten seconds changed everything. Ten seconds can change everything. It can help us choose to show up kinder, wiser and more aware of our lives. It can help us choose to see the gifts, blessings and opportunities around us – previously ignored and out of our view.
Are we willing to have a better life by taking 10 seconds more often in a day to reexamine what life is sharing with us? And in that time could we shift from our lizard brain to our bigger, wiser and more developed brain that is able to see ourselves as part of a connected humanity, worthy of respect, care and support for all we see? Could we move from react to respond? I think we can. Espresso brought me to realize I was missing some of the gifts of life. Slow down and take 10 seconds to see how things can change for you.