I have a habit of racing through life. I measure success by how many items I’ve checked off my to-do list that day and I want to change. When I decided to change my life one of the things I wanted to do was slow down. I had in my mind that I’d take some time out – ground down, get to grips with what I needed. Did I do that? No – I felt a pressure to keep moving forward. I still feel like that. But now I also feel overwhelmed by trying to do everything at once and this constant desire to keep moving forward at a sprint pace. I am a product of my society.
Here in the UK (and I would say it’s similar in the US) it seems we’re all about winning, being the best, achieving the highest. Working the longest hours and being busy all the time. Is this the path to the most life satisfaction and happiness? I think it’s time to flip the switch on this before we all drive ourselves into the ground. If I believe this about society, then it’s time to practice what I preach. March’s Happiness Project theme is all about slowing down.
Slow and steady…
I was going to write that Aesop had it right with his ‘Tortoise and the Hare’ fable and that much quoted saying
“slow and steady wins the race” – Aesop’s fables
But that’s still about winning, how about we don’t think about being in a race at all?
Recently I’ve been observing people crossing the road at traffic lights. It seems many people are unable to wait, in a rush to move forward as quickly as they can. I’ve decided I’m going to take my time at the traffic lights, wait for the green man. It’s safer and it helps me slow down.
I have a board game called Tokaido, players travel from one city in ancient Japan to another. Unlike most board games, the winner isn’t the one who crosses the finish line first. The aim is to have the nicest journey; the winner is the one who’s stopped to take photographs, spent an afternoon in hot springs and eaten lots of delicious meals. Okay, it’s still about winning but if we have to maintain that metaphor I’d rather do so by taking the time to enjoy the journey.
March’s slow down resolutions
I was once walking through Victoria station in London when a business man walked past me saying “I’ve never met anyone who walks as fast as me before”. I was quite pleased with that. I used to like going into London and getting my London walk on. But by rushing around everywhere I tend to arrive sweaty and not having noticed the journey I’ve been on.
I want to take time to appreciate the walk rather than it be about how fast I can get from point A to point B.
Daily meditation, a minimum of five minutes
It’s not a secret that a daily meditation practice does wonders for our health, happiness and the ability to slow down. As a yoga teacher in training I definitely recommend meditation, but I will be the first to admit it’s super hard to fit it in. So I’m not going to stress about doing 30 minutes or an hour a day, if I do that’s great but I’d just like to aim for 5 minutes.
Take one thing off the to-do list each day
I am a serial over-achiever. Most people laugh at how long my to-do lists are, before they realise I actually intend to do all that then they get scared and leave. I really want to stick to this resolution. By forcing myself to take something off each day I hope to learn how to make more manageable to do lists that help me slow down and give myself more time.
I used to pride myself on my ability to multi-task, I think that’s a common thing. I’ve read a lot of articles recently, however, that point to how multi-tasking is detrimental to our brains and the work we produce. I’ve actually taken multi-tasking off my CV now. I want to focus on being able to maintain focus on one task at a time.
Give yourself longer than you need
As a result of my ridiculously huge to-do lists I am constantly trying to cram too much in to my day. This means I’m often rushing to get places (see the aforementioned arriving sweaty problem). Or I’m rushing a task, which generally results in it not being done quite as well it could be. No more!
An inspiration quote to help me slow down
During my week in Morocco starting my yoga teacher training this quote from the late Pattabhi Jois became a fondly repeated mantra.
I like its simplicity and its implicit trust in the universe. It makes me feel it’s okay to take it slow, because all is coming in its own time.
What do you do to slow down? Let me know in the comments below!