The Joy of Rushing

A counterpoint to the gurus' urging.

Posted Nov 13, 2019

pxhere, public domain
Source: pxhere, public domain

The gurus, motivational or spiritual, tell us to slow down, to do less to accomplish more, or simply to enjoy the joy of chillin’.

As I am wont to do, I like to advocate for contrarian practices I believe in. One is rushing.

I’m aware of the research that has found that “Type As,” or “sufferers of hurry sickness,” get more heart attacks, especially if they also have a short fuse—releasing excess cortisol and adrenaline isn’t healthy.

But there is a rarely advocated upside to rushing that, for me, outweighs. And while I’m just an N of 1, I’m a lifelong Type A, and as I approach age 70, I’m ostensibly in fine health. I certainly haven’t had a heart attack. Even so, why would I be willing to accept increased heart attack risk so I could rush, which is stressful?

Obviously, there’s the good feeling that comes from an adrenaline rush—the same thing that motivates people to ride roller coasters or procrastinate until that 11th-hour rush pushes you to finally do the darn task.

If the net effects of rushing were bad on society or on my sphere of influence, I’d try to reduce my rushing. But I believe the net effect is that I make a bigger difference. I can accomplish more.

To start with a literal example, I’m not one of those dangerous drivers who cut in and out of lanes at 30 miles per hour over the speed limit. But I do drive as fast as safely possible in the left lane — sometimes, yes, even 15 miles over the speed limit. Beyond the adrenaline rush, getting to my destination faster does enable me to accomplish more. Rushing is key to my having written 12 books and almost 4,000 articles, and having served 5,700 career and personal advising clients.

For example, I speed through writing the first draft of my Psychology Today posts. It’s more exciting to zoom through. But I wouldn’t dare submit a first draft. I rush through revising it, usually three to six times. The result is that I can create publishable work quickly while satisfying my adrenaline addiction.

I even let my joy of rushing affect how I run my career and advising sessions. For example, I interrupt far more than is standard—I explain to my clients that I do so not to be rude but so we can accomplish more per session. Almost always, the clients say they’re glad I interrupt: With their previous counselor, clients tended to go on long, not useful discursions, and are grateful that I bring them back on track. I also will, as part of my hurry “sickness,” look for the first opportunity to have my client take baby steps forward. If they revisit some past trauma, I’ll ask, “Is revisiting that serving you or should we figure out the next baby step forward?” I know, I absolutely know, that my rushing contributes to my clients making more progress more quickly.

Yes, you will make more mistakes if you rush, sometimes serious ones. But I’ve concluded that, for me at least, the net effect—the pleasure and the benefit to my sphere of influence—is greater than if I followed the gurus’ urging to slow down.

So, might you want to consider that contrarian idea: Should you experience more of the joy of rushing?

I read this aloud on YouTube.