On the first day of class, at exactly 11:00am when class was to begin, the professor wrote on the chalkboard: “Joseph P. Dolan”. Without saying a word, underneath it, he wrote: “5 minutes is a long time”. I was thinking that five minutes wasn’t really a long time, but maybe this business law class was going to be a long semester with this strange professor. Next, he turned to face the class and leaned against the desk in the front of the classroom, stared at the students and proceeded to do absolutely nothing. In complete silence. For exactly 5 minutes. I was glad that I wasn’t in the first row. Those five minutes seemed like an hour in a room so quiet you could hear a pin drop. We students were respectfully silent, with our heads down except to occasionally check the clock on the wall, anticipating when it would finally get to 11:05am.
Professor Dolan introduced himself and spelled out his name multiple times for the class. “It’s Dolan, not Nolan, not Rolan or Molan, it’s Dolan.” he told us. I thought that odd since his last name wasn’t particularly difficult to remember or spell (I ought to know). Maybe the students from last semester got it wrong. He then proceeded to tell us that five minutes is a long time, enunciating each word slowly and pointing to each word with his piece of chalk. He finally explained that as an attorney, he’d been involved in many cases and legal matters which arose because of poor decisions. If people would just stop and take five minutes to think through decisions, there would be a lot less litigation and criminal trials in the country. He said that five minutes is all it would take to think through the situation and come to the best course of action. Of course, human nature isn’t like that in many circumstances and lawyers were likely to remain busy dealing with the outcomes of bad decisions. I can’t remember much from the class, but I’ll never forget the advice given on that first day.
Professor Dolan’s advice to encourage us to pause, and ponder ones decisions can be fruitful beyond the avoidance of legal entanglements. To expand even further, taking a daily five minute mental break from our busy, overly connected and stimulated lives could be just what the doctor (or lawyer) ordered. A few suggestions on what to do with your five minutes:
- Think of one thing you are grateful for. It can be as simple as appreciating that we live in a beautiful part of the country or as serious as surviving a heart attack.
- Make plans to get together with a friend or relative that you haven’t seen in a while.
- Chose a book to read for 20 minutes a day in lieu of checking social media.
- Clear your inbox of clutter and useless emails.
- Thank a coworker who you feel is under appreciated.
- Remember an old saying about being kind to everyone, for we all are fighting a hard battle, which isn’t easy in our smack down Twitter war society.
- Remember that even with all our problems, we’re still living in the best country on the planet.
- Think of one way you can become a better version of yourself. You can do more virtuous behavior or reduce a vice. Baby steps, because change does not come fast.
- Sit in silence, undistracted from the digital world
- Remember that the true meaning of Easter isn’t about bunnies and colored eggs. Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price for our sins, so that we mere mortals may have a chance at redemption. Salvation is offered to all, but not all seek it. It is never too late.