The Case for Going Slow in a Fast World
Why is it that we still find ourselves with no time in a world where it is easier than ever to accomplish things quickly? We find ourselves busier than ever, working to squeeze every minute out of the day.
We live in a world of artificial intelligence, automation, electric wine openers, and of course, Amazon Prime. It has never been so easy or quick to find the answer to a question. Our expectations for companies, each other, and ourselves have picked up in speed.
In one sense, it is not surprising that we try our best to keep up. Our society and Western cultural systems emphasize and reward speed and productivity. In the United States, workers are noted for not only receiving less paid vacation than other countries, but also we are less likely to use our allotted vacation time.
We bend ourselves into pretzels for reinforcement and praise that may come in the form of money, accolades, likes, and followers. We are social animals, and our role and status within groups are essential. For our species, community and cooperation are critical for survival. Producing more can provide us with a sense of importance and of contribution to our community, whether at home, at work, or with friends.
There are many articles, tips, and workshops to increase our efficiency, encouraging us to produce more. This is alluring. If we could accomplish more, would we feel that we are getting more out of life? Would we be worry-free? Would we cross an illusory finish line?
Relentless seeking to do more may actually have the opposite effect. Moving through life quickly, we teach our bodies, minds, and nervous systems to be continually focusing on the next thing, and we miss what exists, the present moment.
For some, slowing down can be very difficult. It may elicit emotions that we have long avoided, and allow these to come to the forefront of our attention. If this is the case for you, remember that you are not alone in this experience. You may find it helpful to work with a therapist when starting to find time to slow down.
If this article has resonated in some way, here are some ways to slow downtime:
- Take time to intentionally move slowly. This can take the form of mindful walkingor washing the dishes.
- When we find ourselves waiting in lines, on a walk, or sitting at our desks for a few minutes (don’t tell your employer), we have an opportunity to let our minds do their thing– to wander! An added benefit of letting our minds wander is that it may actually improve our working memory.
- Engage in breathwork.
- Listen to music. Choose a song and listen “between the notes,” notice the lyrics, the beat, the pitch of the singers. Let your body adjust to the tempo.
- Take a compassionate touch break.
- Stop and smell the roses. Use your senses. Tune into them. Focus on one sense at a time.
If you find yourselves around children, you may have noticed a pattern to this list. Children are experts at many of the bullet points listed above. The secret to slowing down may be learning from our little ones, how to move to the music, to focus on each step, and to find wonder in the smell and color of the flowers.