Kate Murphy, a regular contributor to the NYTimes on social-cultural matters, started her phone interview with me by saying she was stunned to learn that 83% of people would rather give themselves a shock than spend time in quiet self-reflection. What is this, she asked, and I was glad we could talk about the deep anxieties people experience today that are both generated, and covered up by, a speedy pace that eliminates any possibility of self-reflection.
SPEED – always going faster and faster — lets you falsely believe that you are seeking the American dream of success, that you can have it all, and there will be no costs. Just keep going. Don’t stop to think, don’t question. You’ll be left behind if you pause a moment for self-reflection. There’s the cost!
I talked with her about addiction as a three-pronged necklace: out-of-control behavior, constricted or wild emotions and distorted thinking. The thinking tells us that action is all there is, which leads to a nation of impulse-dominated people, behaving like four-year olds on the playground.
One of the key mantras I restate throughout the book is: Pause, Ask yourself “what am I doing?” Take a breath. Reflect. Without a working capacity for, and value of, self-reflection, we truly abdicate self responsibility.