What We Can Learn From Turtles

If you want to improve your life, be more like a turtle.  Being like a turtle will make you happier, less stressed, and will lead to a more adventuresome life.

We are constantly being bombarded by information, input, and interference from all around.  The overload comes from a variety of places: music in the car on the way to and from work, cell phones constantly vibrating and ringing to notify us of the next call or text message, and our perceived need to stay connected to everyone we have ever met via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter.  Like a turtle who disappears inside his shell, we occasionally need to disengage and be still.  From time to time we need to find a place of solitude, cut off all the distractions, and take time to clear our mind, heart, and soul.  This simple act can greatly reduce the feelings of being stressed and overwhelmed.

We also need to learn to exert more control over the speed of our lives and possibly scale it back a few notches.  Turtles tend to get made fun of for being slow, but maybe they are on to something.  Whereas our tendency is to allow outside sources to determine the pace of our lives, turtles live their lives at their own pace and do things at their own speed.  It seems that nearly everything we do has to be done at a certain time and in a specific amount of time.  Whether it is school, work, church, sports games and practices, or something else, we are constantly told where we have to be and when we have to be there.  Rather than let commitments and activities determine the pace of our lives, we should let the pace of our lives determine what we commit to and participate in.  Don’t let your schedule control your life – let your life control your schedule.  Find a pace of life that is comfortable and that fits you best and live life at that speed.  It’s okay if you can’t find the time to do everything.  Determine your priorities, commit yourself to those, and do other stuff when you can.

Perhaps one of the most amazing things about turtles though is the amount of courage and commitment they show.  Have you ever really stopped to think about what a huge deal it is for a turtle to cross a road?  Not only does it take an immense amount of courage for a turtle to decide to cross the road, but once he’s out in the middle of the road, there is no turning back.  A turtle doesn’t move fast enough to be able to dart back to one side or another when a car is coming, so they must have the courage to press on through the difficult, stressful, and dangerous times.

It would be much easier for a turtle to stay on the side of the road where he is at, especially when he has no idea what is waiting for him on the other side or if the journey across the road will even be worth it.  What if what is on the other side is basically the same as what he is leaving?  What if what is on the other side is worse than what he is leaving?  It very well could be the same or worse, but what if it is a much better situation in a place that is better suited for that particular turtle?  He really never knows until he gets to the other side, but if nothing else, at least it’s always an adventure.

Turtles definitely have the right attitude in this area.  I would encourage all of us to have the courage to take the first step, push on through the unknown, stressful, and sometimes dangerous situations, and see how it turns out on the other side.  I think that if we are honest with ourselves, all of us struggle with at least one of these areas.  Some of us worry about how everything is going to turn out when we get where we are going.  Others of us just give up when we encounter situations that worry us, stress us out, or seem questionable.  And then there are those of us that can never get up the courage to take the first step.  Whichever one(s) of these that you struggle with, just remember that if you step out, press on, reach your destination, and then realize when you get there that you made a horrible mistake…it’s not the end of the world.  If you don’t like where you end up, try something different.  You can go back to where you came from or you can set out on a whole new adventure.  Just enjoy the journey and see where you end up.

Be like a turtle.  Slow down.  Control your life – don’t let it control you.  Take time to get away from the noise and distractions of life.  Have times dedicated to refreshing your heart, mind, and soul.  Be brave.  Don’t always settle for what you know…you’ll never know what you are missing.  Don’t be afraid to take the first step.  Once you take the first step, keep going.  Don’t let fear or doubt stop you.  Enjoy the journey.  You only live once.  At the end of your life may the list of things you’ve done be longer than the list of things you wish you’d done.

And watch out for turtles along the road.

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