How did I change my life?
I slowed down. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, does it? Well I was (and still am) shocked at the reverberations slowing down has had on my life.
Confession: I’m a speed addict. I love speed. (I’m talking about the pace, not the drug.) I love the adrenalin rush of moving quickly. Of getting things done.
We live in a culture that reinforces the idea that speed is good and absolutely necessary for success. “Success loves speed.” Brian Tracy
We rush around trying to cram as much as possible into our days. We revere “the top 30 under 30”, some of whom have reached the brass ring even before their frontal cortex has completed its development.
We get impatient at the driver who is driving too slowly (often at the speed limit), frustrated with our children for taking too long to get ready in the morning, curse our computers if something isn’t downloading fast enough and hop from checkout line to checkout line to see which is moving the quickest.
We look for shortcuts everywhere. We want bigger, better and more and we want it faster and faster (preferably yesterday).
We’re usually so busy hurrying through our days trying to get it all done that it makes it impossible for us to see what our obsession with speed is costing us in terms of our health, our relationships and our enjoyment of our lives.
People in snow belts love snow days – those days in which so much snow has fallen that school is cancelled and people are told to stay at home. (Think Buffalo with over 5 feet of snow in one day in November 2014.) Why? Because they have been given permission to stop their hectic, crazy, speedy lives for one day.
Where are we rushing to? Do we ever stop to ask ourselves why we’re in such a hurry? How did we get to the point where we feel that we have to pack so much into our days? And that we have to do it all at breakneck speed? Letting the belief “So much to do and so little time” rule our lives?
Newsflash: YOU WILL NEVER GET IT ALL DONE. EVER.
When was the last time that you took your time? Or-heaven forbid-DAWDLED? That you just hung out with your kids, your significant other, your friends without being exhausted and overwhelmed and feeling guilty because you have so much to do that you should really be doing instead?
I’m always delighted when I see a parent with a young child who is jumping in puddles or examining a caterpillar and the parent isn’t rushing them along. Come to think of it – when was the last time you jumped in a puddle or stopped to look at a caterpillar or smell the proverbial rose?
What surprises me is the enormous positive impact slowing down has had on my life. Most surprising to me – and what I would have thought was counterintuitive – is that I’m getting much more done. I always believed that I would get more done by multitasking and moving faster. Did you know that study after study shows that our brains were not built for multitasking and multitaskers are less effective?
Now that I have slowed down, I’m more focused and less stressed. The upshot of all of this is that I’m more productive. And I procrastinate less.
I’m more present in my life instead of thinking about what’s next (stressful), what has to be done (even more stressful) and how I can stay on top of things (very stressful). I was always ready to launch myself into the next project or idea and revving myself up for it instead of being in the moment with what I was doing.
The biggest change? I’m enjoying each moment of my life more. How can you enjoy your life if you’re often focused on the next thing to do, rushing to get ahead and trying to get it all done now? Excuse me for stating the obvious but life can only be enjoyed by being fully present in this moment. And this moment. And this moment.
Have I completely made a 180-degree turn and embraced slow? Absolutely not. There are times that I miss the speedy pace. So I head out for a power walk and get my dose of speed in that way. Or I just stop and do some deep breathing and a meditation to bring myself into the present moment. Or I catch myself sneaking in my speedy pace again here and there.
What about you? What are you missing out on as you speed along the highway of your life? Do you ever stop and look at the sights along the way? Or take an unplanned detour because who knows what might be around the next corner? Or would that derail you from getting to where you tell yourself that you have to, want to, need to go as quickly as possible?
In Carl Honore’s book, In Praise of Slowness, he talks about getting to know your “inner tortoise”. (I love that expression.) Here’s his TED talk:
With warmest regards,