He who sows hurry reaps indigestion.
Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish philosopher 1850-1894
An interesting study at the Princeton Theological Seminary tells a troubling story about how well-intentioned humans can behave when we are in a rush. The students were given a lecture on the parable of The Good Samaritan, and then were told they had to give their own sermon on the topic across campus, on which they would be evaluated. One group of students were told they were already late [the “high hurry” group]; some were told they had a few minutes before they had to head over [the “low hurry” group].
At the same time, an actor in “distress” was staged in a deserted alleyway on campus so that each student would come across the person in distress. The researchers wanted to see if learning about The Good Samaritan led to acting on it, offering these seminarians a chance to practice what they were about to preach.
The stunning findings revealed that those in a big hurry only stopped to help the stranger in distress 10% of the time, after just having a lecture on the topic. Some even stepped over the victim on their way to the next building. The people in low-hurry state stopped 63% of the time.
This study suggests that time pressure resulted in behaviors incongruent to their education and their devotion to help others. The weight of a being in a rush caused the students to put their immediate concern of being on time before the wellbeing of someone in need. Perhaps the hurriedness narrowed their ability to think clearly.
When we are in a hurry, no matter the cause, it can create a mismatch between who we want to be and what we do. It is a conflict, not a callousness that leads us to behave contrary to our true selves. What can you do to remove all unnecessary urgency from your life? What can you do, to eliminate hurry even with the most mundane tasks?
Reducing urgency can be applied to tasks large and small in life. I started with getting to airports 45 minutes earlier and going to the grocery store only when unbound from a time constraint, early in morning or late at night. As Lao Tzu once said, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”