I vividly recall the men in our neighborhood gathering every evening after work in a vacant lot next to my house for a game of horseshoes. The pace of life was more relaxed when I was a child. Work was from nine to five, and then it was time to knock off and play horseshoes.
You may not know the game of horseshoes. A U-shaped metal horseshoe is thrown toward a metal stake placed in a sawdust or dirt square about 13 yards (12 m) away. The player to land his horseshoes closest to the stake is the winner. When a horseshoe encircles the stake, it is called a “ringer.”
It was a perfect time to chat about the day. The men would relate their latest triumphs or woes, or talk about current events. It all went over my head, of course, but I could see they enjoyed it.
All of that disappeared with the advent of TV. As each family bought a TV set, people spent less and less time playing horseshoes. Instead they spent their evenings in front of the new marvel with its flickering black-and-white images. And that was just the start.
According to recent research, Britons spend more than 50% of their waking day using technology devices, including watching TV, surfing the Internet, and communicating via social media. The daily average of 8 hours and 41 minutes is more than an average night’s sleep!1
The first commercial flights were only one hundred years ago. Now more than 8 million people fly each day on average.2 It is questionable whether this speed has made us happier. Nor do I think the advance in technology has brought us peace of mind.
We race from birth to death with hardly time to stop and smell the roses. Do more, do it better, do it yesterday, get rich quick—or in debt quick. Fast food, fast computers, fast money, fast cars in fast lanes, fast talk in sound bites. “Live fast” seems to be our slogan.
Sometimes we pile so much stress on ourselves in this speedy lifestyle that we find it hard to cope. Sometimes we get under stress and don’t even know it. On a recent trip to the dentist, I found that I had developed cracks in some of my teeth. My dentist explained that stress had apparently caused me to bite and grind my teeth in my sleep.
Major studies have been done on the subject of stress alleviation, as inefficiency, lost production, and absenteeism—all of which have been linked to stress in the workplace—sap the economy of billions each year. So what’s the cure? We can’t turn back the clock, nor do we necessarily want to. The world today is different from the one I grew up in, and we need to adapt our strategies. Thankfully, some of the practical solutions these studies have come up with seem easy enough to do:
- Take up gardening.
- De-clutter your home or your work environment.
- Give more love and affection, and allow yourself to receive them in return.
- Get a massage.
- Work on developing loving relationships.
- Make healthy changes in your diet and lifestyle, such as drinking less alcohol, cutting down on caffeine, or stopping smoking.
- Exercise, in nature if possible.
- Give three sincere compliments at work each day.
- Get a good rest.
- Have a good laugh.
- Listen to soft music.
- Take a mini-vacation.
- Get a pet.
All of these practical suggestions are helpful, but finding that peace that passes all understanding takes more. It takes listening for a moment to God’s still small voice in our hearts that reassures us that He still loves us in spite of our shortcomings.
Take a moment today to be refreshed in prayer so that you may find rest for your soul. The problems you face will come into perspective as you experience the awesome love of God. A prophecy about Jesus given shortly before His birth said that He would “guide our feet into the way of peace.”3 May you follow the way He shows you.