The Power of Pressing Pause

I am an impulsive person.

When I know I want something, I go after it. Sometimes foolishly. Just ask my wife.

So I’m trying to learn the power of pressing pause. Of taking a step back and reflecting in the midst of a world that continues to move in fast-forward.

So often we act on urges without really thinking, and without even realising it. And it gets us into trouble. We have the urge to eat junk food, and so we do it. We have the urge to skip a workout, and so we stay on the couch. We have an urge to smoke, to criticize, to check Facebook, to gossip, to open our inbox…  and we act on that urge. But, as Leo Babuta writes:

What if instead we learned to pause after each urge? What if we stopped, looked at that urge, paid close attention to what it feels like inside our bodies, but didn’t act? The urge would no longer control us. We would be able to make conscious choices that might be healthier for us...

And that’s why the pause is so critical.

Because when we pause, we create space. Space for life. Space to breathe, to think, and to respond proactively .

Such a small thing, and yet so powerful.

Of course, learning to press pause in our world and in our culture is no easy feat, but it can be learnt and practiced and improved.

In the Bible, the psalmists use a very interesting Hebrew word selah which, while its definition is not entirely clear, means something like pause and calmly think about that. It’s like after every statement of praise or nugget of truth, the writer is trying to get us to stop and think and take it all in, instead of simply jumping to the next line or chorus…

or email,

or conversation,

or TV program…

Imagine if we could live our lives like that? Stopping and reflecting. Taking it all in. Acknowledging the urge, but not acting on it. Practicing the power of the pause.

The urges won’t go away, of course, but our ability to pause will get stronger. And when you have the pause, you have life!

16 Replies to “The Power of Pressing Pause”

  1. Hi Tom! This is a great post and a good reminder to take that time out. Not always easy when this world seems to demand so much of your time and energy! But this is what “self-discipline” is all about right?


  2. Love this post! What a great reminder. Thanks for sharing. In this busy, busy life it is so necessary to take time to reflect on why we do what we do.

    “Be still, and know that I am God.”

    We need that “pause”, quiet, and stillness.


  3. So true Tom. You see, me and you are kind of different from usual general personal development bloggers. We have this zest of life and we don’t just go on and on ranting advice. We observe life, enjoy life and then show people how to do it. You’re, as always, awesome! Thanks for the wonderful post.


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