Tool: Take a 5-Minute Break

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

“Why don't we take a five minute break?” - Dark Helmet, Spaceballs

I find much of my wisdom in silly movies.  This gem from the movie Spaceballs has been a counterfear lifesaver for me - over and over.  "Why don't we take a five-minute break?"  The whole scene from the movie is at the end of this blog, in case you haven't had the pleasure of catching Spaceballs.  While we're on the subject of tools, watching a funny movie is one of the best.

Take a 5-Minute Break

Here's the way it works.  You take a time-out.  You do a quick check-in.  Then go back to where you were, or you continue on your way.

A time-out can help with a shift.  Even a little shift can go a long way.   If you were navigating an ocean, making a tiny half-degree shift could make an entire continent of difference when you got half-a-world away from where you started.  Taking a five-minute break can help you make a tiny shift now.  Or in any moment. 

Notice where you are.  Can you take a time out?

On Your 5-Minute Break 

When you can, change the scene.  Change your position.  Change your perspective.  Just for a few minutes.  

Take a walk - down the hall.  Outside the door.  Outside the building.  Outside your house.  Around the block.  To a park.  Even a walk around the block can make a world of difference when the moment is intense.

Notice your shoulders.  Your jaw.  The way you are sitting.  Standing.  Is there stress there?  Can you relax a little?  Maybe a lot?

Notice your thoughts.  Is there anger?  Fear?  Rage?  Sadness?  Despondence?  Where is it coming from?  Is there a source?  Is it really what you think it is?  Can you figure out the cause?

When you create the space to figure out what is really causing you trouble at any given moment, sometimes you can get to the root of it.  Then you can figure out if it makes sense for you to be feeling the way that you are, or to make a shift.  

Sometimes it's not easy to make a shift - life can be complicated.  Something else you can do on a 5-minute break though is to get some perspective.  Gratitude often helps.  Finding beauty.  Noticing something you haven't noticed.  Having a mindful moment.  Connecting with someone you might not normally say "hi" to.  

A five-minute break might just be getting coffee.  But a break is a break.  It can make a world of difference.  Or half-a-world.

The Scene

For the unitiated, Spaceballs is a bit of a spoof on Star Wars.  It also features some high-quality 1980s hairstyles and cutting-edge technology. 

Here's the scene from Spaceballs, The Movie.  To set the scene, the Spaceballs characters are in a spaceship pursuing our heroes - who have just made the jump into "hyper-active" with their "hyper-jets."  In an attempt to catch up, the Spaceballs ship has by-passed both "light speed" and "hyper-active," and has gone right into "ludicrous speed:"

[At 'Ludicrous Speed"…]

Dark Helmet:  [as the ship is going into ludicrous speed]  We've passed them.  Stop this thing!

Colonel Sandurz:  We caaaaan't stop, it's toooo dangerous!  We have to slowww dowwn first!

Dark Helmet:  Bullshit!  Stop this thing, I order you!  St-o-o-o-o-p!

[Colonel Sandurz reaches out and uses the emergency brake, which says "Never Use."  Dark Helmet goes flying forward, yelling, into a control panel, denting it and his helmet severely.]

Colonel Sandurz:  Are you all right, sir?

Dark Helmet:  [slightly dazed]  Fine.  How have you been?

Colonel Sandurz:  Very good, sir.  It's a good thing you were wearing that helmet.

Dark Helmet:  Yeah.

Colonel Sandurz:  What should we do now, sir?

Dark Helmet:  Well, are we stopped?

Colonel Sandurz:  We're stopped, sir.

Dark Helmet:  Good.  Why don't we take a five minute break?

Colonel Sandurz:  Very good, sir.

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POSTED:  2016-0615

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