This is something I think about a lot.
In 1973, two researchers from Princeton recruited seminary students for one of their studies. They asked half of the participants to prepare a speech on the parable of the Good Samaritan. The other half were asked to prepare one on seminary jobs. They were then instructed to walk to another location in order to give their speeches. Some of them were told they were late and needed to hurry; some were told they had plenty of time.
Along the way, each participant came across an actor portraying someone in need of help. Among other things, the researchers wanted to look at how hurriedness affected whether or not the participant stopped to lend aide. Ninety percent of the participants in a hurry passed by the person in need; some even stepped right over his body on their way to give their speech. Of the ones that were told they had ample time, 63% stopped to help.
This Result Struck Me
When someone asks me how I’ve been, I feel like “busy” is an appropriate answer. Many will even return with a positive response, like, “Good for you!” In life and at work, we’re asked to do more and work harder. To be clear, I firmly believe in the importance of productivity and contribution—it is beneficial for both the body and the mind, the individual and the group—but I worry that too often we confuse productivity with just plain hurriedness. We rush through our lives trying to squeeze as much into the day as we can, and I’m not convinced we’re better for it. I often wonder about the opportunities I pass by, even step right over, in my quest to complete my never-ending to-do list.
Now, I don’t have a research study showing floating makes you a better person—kinder, more patient, more forgiving, more empathetic—but I can with absolute certainty tell you that floating makes me a better person, in large part, I am sure, because it forces me to slow down. It allows me time to deconstruct my life and consider each part separately and deeply. I can see more clearly when I’ve judged too harshly, when I’ve ignored another’s feelings, and when my ego has gotten in the way. In the tank, my capacity to feel and to understand increases. I naturally gravitate towards thoughts and feelings of love and positivity, both for myself and for others. As I speak to others who have had similar experiences, I am convinced this capacity for care is actually our inherent nature. We just get in our own way. We just hurry too much.
And for those of you who wouldn’t mind a little help slowing down in your life, come see us. We have something we think you ought to try…
Also published on Medium.