The Habit of Pausing

When you learn to pause deliberately, you’ll find it much easier to keep calm, think clearly, and identify more options for action.

In highly charged moments, pausing helps you react in constructive ways. In your day-to-day routine, pausing can improve your focus, creativity, communication skills and sense of well-being.

Below are two sets of recommendations for learning the art of pauses. If you anticipate conflict or other stress soon, we suggest you start with the Steadying Pauses. Start by memorizing one or two that feel right to you, so you can access them quickly in difficult moments.

Steadying Pauses

Try these pauses on turbulent days to help navigate difficult situations and keep your emotional balance.

  • When you feel mistreated, think of what you’re most grateful for.
  • When you feel dislike, tell yourself, “This person has problems, too.”
  • When you feel trapped or attacked, say a quick, calming mantra or prayer. Some good options include:

-the Tibetan monks’ chant, “Om mani padme hum,”

-any line from Francis of Assisi’s prayer “Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace,”

-a personalized “note to self” (such as “May I let go of judgment,” “May I listen more than I speak”), or

-the universally applicable, “Just breathe.”

  • If possible, take a break. Walk down the hall. Go outside for some fresh air.

Pauses to practice daily

These simple acts can help you become a calmer, happier, more confident person. Try a few, notice which seem to help you the most, and repeat those regularly. Then try a new one every now and then.

  • Perform random acts of kindness for yourself as well as others. Say something nice to yourself. Help someone in need.
  • Express gratitude daily for your health, your family, your friends, your work, and abundance in life.
  • Choose to think positively. Notice your thoughts, and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Simplify your day. Choose one goal to work on throughout the day.
  • Breathe slowly for 3 long breaths. Feel the full expansion and contraction of your body.
  • Enjoy your food. Eat slowly. Smile easily. Notice the texture, color and flavor of the food.
  • Restore your energy. Walk slowly. Drink water. Sleep soundly.
  • Forgive yourself. Forgive others.