…we feel irritated if a website doesn’t load instantly.
…we think taking a nap is a sign of laziness.
…we check our email, Facebook, and twitter 15 times a day.
…we eat instant oatmeal for breakfast, frozen meals for lunch, and order takeaway for dinner.
…we lose sleep over an upcoming deadline.
…we even take our own lives because the pressure to perform is too much to handle.
We fear that heavens will fall if things don’t get done. We work harder, and longer, and harder, and longer only to realize that there’s more to do. It never ends.
“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”
Why should we slow down?
The world is moving at breakneck speed. Information is overflowing 24 hours a day. We are busy, busy, and busy. Lunch is wolfed down. When we get home there is still so much to do, so much we want before finally falling into the bed.
“There’s more to life than increasing its speed.” – Mahatma Gandhi
But do we ever really gain anything from rushing? Just the act of rushing can trigger stress and anxiety. Rushing gives us the feeling like we’re getting more done but often it’s just the opposite.
All this hurrying from one thing to the next takes a toll on our bodies. It’s become too commonplace and we are in need of some recovery.
And we go on living as if there’s nothing wrong with this system. If there’s nothing wrong with this system, then why are so many people unhappy? Why are so many on medication to control anxiety, stress, and depression?
“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”
All this busyness has overloaded our minds. There’s just no rest; no sense of completion. Making it impossible to find a reason to smile. This overwork is not without consequence. It’s well known now that any work we do after about 45 hours a week starts to decrease in quality. This line from Harvard Business Review is gold: “In sum, the story of overwork is literally a story of diminishing returns: keep overworking, and you’ll progressively work more stupidly on tasks that are increasingly meaningless.”
We’re also sleeping less as a society, which kills productivity and increases health care costs.
How to slow down?
- Choose three things to accomplish each day. I know, you could probably come up with a list of 100 things, but don’t. Keeping the list this size will force you to decide what’s really important. When you finish the list, the rest of the day is yours to relax. With this approach, you’ll be completing 21 important tasks a week. If you have more than that, seriously reevaluate your commitments.
- Learn to say “no.” Stop taking on more responsibility. Sure, volunteering is a noble way to spend your time, but stretching yourself too thin can rob you of your peace of mind.
- Be unproductive. Even if you can only manage 20 minutes a day at first. Do something which gives you joy, makes you laugh, brings a sparkle to your eyes, and makes you feel on top of the world.
“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”
- Check your email only twice a day. That includes twitter, Facebook, stocks, sports scores, blog stats – anything. Checking these sites frequently can become an addictive habit which steals time and drains your energy.
- Embrace quality over quantity. Instead of joining every organization, subscribing to every blog, or taking every opportunity you get – try doing fewer things, but choosing the ones that really add value to your life.
- Find a hobby. Try something new, you don’t have to be good at it. As long as it excites you and taps into your creativity.
- Spend time with people you love. Sharing secrets, fears, and hopes with another human is the surest way to slow down and enjoy life. Find time every single day to spend with loved ones, and you won’t end up with a single death-bed regret.
- Reconnect with wild animals. Animals slow us down to our natural rhythms, which is why animal-assisted therapy works so well at lowering blood pressure and healing psychological ills of many kinds.
- Reconnect with plants. A simple pot on a windowsill slows us down to the pace of a seed, a seedling, a leaf and a flower.
- Spend more time outdoors with nature. Most of us are indoors most of the time. Our bodies and souls cry out for long walks on a beach, contemplation in a forest or a few minutes in a nearby garden. These times slow life down to a healing, natural pace.
In a nutshell
Remember there is no real hurry. There’s only the one we create for ourselves through poor and unrealistic planning. Just because society is always on the go, does not mean you have to be.
Life is not a race. Do take it slower.
Hear the music. Before the song is over.
-David L. Weatherford
No wonder, people are craving for a slower, more sustainable pace of life. And I don’t mean sitting in rocking chair on a farm for 12 hours a day. I just mean a healthy pace of life, where we get plenty of things done but don’t have to feel like we’re constantly drowning. Shouldn’t that be a reasonable thing to want? Begin to think about your legacy, the person you want to be, and how you want to be remembered.
Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/jcb2u/461868113/”>jcb2u</a> via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/re/013e99″>VisualHunt.com</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”> CC BY-ND</a>