Life moves at such a fast pace that it seems to pass us by before we can really enjoy it.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s rebel against a hectic lifestyle and slow down to enjoy life.
A slower-paced life means making time to enjoy your mornings, instead of rushing off to work in a frenzy. It means taking time to enjoy whatever you’re doing, to appreciate the outdoors, to actually focus on whoever you’re talking to or spending time with — instead of always being connected to a Blackberry or iPhone or laptop, instead of always thinking about work tasks and emails. It means single-tasking rather than switching between a multitude of tasks and focusing on none of them.
Slowing down is a conscious choice, and not always an easy one, but it leads to a greater appreciation for life and a greater level of happiness.
Here’s how to do it.
1. Do less. It’s hard to slow down when you are trying to do a million things. Instead, make the conscious choice to do less. Focus on what’s really important, what really needs to be done, and let go of the rest. Put space between tasks and appointments, so you can move through your days at a more leisurely pace. Read more.
2. Be present. It’s not enough to just slow down — you need to actually be mindful of whatever you’re doing at the moment. That means, when you find yourself thinking about something you need to do, or something that’s already happened, or something that might happen … gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Focus on what’s going on right now. On your actions, on your environment, on others around you. This takes practice but is essential.
3. Disconnect. Don’t always be connected. If you carry around an iPhone or Blackberry or other mobile device, shut it off. Better yet, learn to leave it behind when possible. If you work on a computer most of the day, have times when you disconnect so you can focus on other things. Being connected all the time means we’re subject to interruptions, we’re constantly stressed about information coming in, we are at the mercy of the demands of others. It’s hard to slow down when you’re always checking new messages coming in.
4. Focus on people. Too often we spend time with friends and family, or meet with colleagues, and we’re not really there with them. We talk to them but are distracted by devices. We are there, but our minds are on things we need to do. We listen, but we’re really thinking about ourselves and what we want to say. None of us are immune to this, but with conscious effort you can shut off the outside world and just be present with the person you’re with. This means that just a little time spent with your family and friends can go a long way — a much more effective use of your time, by the way. It means we really connect with people rather than just meeting with them.
5. Appreciate nature. Many of us are shut in our homes and offices and cars and trains most of the time, and rarely do we get the chance to go outside. And often even when people are outside, they’re talking on their cell phones. Instead, take the time to go outside and really observe nature, take a deep breath of fresh air, enjoy the serenity of water and greenery. Exercise outdoors when you can, or find other outdoor activities to enjoy such as nature walks, hiking, swimming, etc. Feel the sensations of water and wind and earth against your skin. Try to do this daily — by yourself or with loved ones.
6. Eat slower. Instead of cramming food down our throats as quickly as possible — leading to overeating and a lack of enjoyment of our food — learn to eat slowly. Be mindful of each bite. Appreciate the flavors and textures. Eating slowly has the double benefit of making you fuller on less food and making the food taste better. I suggest learning to eat more real food as well, with some great spices (instead of fat and salt and sugar and frying for flavor).
7. Drive slower. Speedy driving is a pretty prevalent habit in our fast-paced world, but it’s also responsible for a lot of traffic accidents, stress, and wasted fuel. Instead, make it a habit to slow down when you drive. Appreciate your surroundings. Make it a peaceful time to contemplate your life, and the things you’re passing. Driving will be more enjoyable, and much safer. You’ll use less fuel too.
8. Find pleasure in anything. This is related to being present, but taking it a step farther. Whatever you’re doing, be fully present … and also appreciate every aspect of it, and find the enjoyable aspects. For example, when washing dishes, instead of rushing through it as a boring chore to be finished quickly, really feel the sensations of the water, the suds, the dishes. It can really be an enjoyable task if you learn to see it that way. The same applies to other chores — washing the car, sweeping, dusting, laundry — and anything you do, actually. Life can be so much more enjoyable if you learn this simple habit.
9. Single-task. The opposite of multi-tasking. Focus on one thing at a time. When you feel the urge to switch to other tasks, pause, breathe, and pull yourself back. Read more.
10. Breathe. When you find yourself speeding up and stressing out, pause, and take a deep breath. Take a couple more. Really feel the air coming into your body, and feel the stress going out. By fully focusing on each breath, you bring yourself back to the present, and slow yourself down. It’s also nice to take a deep breath or two — do it now and see what I mean. :)
Read more about simplifying and focus in my book, The Power of Less.
Jim Goodwin “For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”
“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going to fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”
The world is moving at breakneck speed. Information is overflowing 24 hours a day. At work or in school we are busy, busy, 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.
Sometimes this works fine. Sometimes this can cause problem, feelings like it’s all just too much and like you are not in control.
So I like to slow things down.
In this article I would like to explain why and how to do it practically.
If you are feeling like your speed in life is causing difficulties try one or a few of these things and see how they work for you.
1. You can lose or maintain weight.
It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. That’s because the food has to reach the intestines before your body starts sending signals telling your brain that you feel full. By slowing down your eating your brain can stop you before you eat too much.
I have found that that if I eat too fast then I usually eat about 15-25% more before I feel full. If you do this every day of the week those extra calories can quickly add up.
How to slow down:
- Eat before you get ridiculously hungry. If you’re really hungry it will be hard to eat slowly. The best way to avoid this is to not wait for too long but to eat when you feel just a little hungry. Or to have your meals at specified times during the day that you know from experience will be appropriate to avoid getting too hungry.
- Put down your fork between the bites. The classic advice is to put down your fork and then chew. Then to pick up your fork again after you’ve swallowed, take another bite and repeat the process. I like this tip because it forces you to slow down. Instead of taking that stressed energy from your day and just letting it power through the meal too as you quickly wolf down everything on your plate.
- Focus on the food and yourself. Not on what other people are doing.It’s easy to get drawn into someone else’s pace while eating (just like when driving or running). Be conscious of keeping your own pace instead of just unconsciously eating as fast as everyone around the table might do.
When you feel like life is going to fast then you feel like you are losing control over it or barely hanging on. This, as you also probably have noticed, can cause a lot of unnecessary stress.
How to slow down: Simply do the things you are doing slower. If you are moving quickly then just take a deep breath and slow down your movement and your pace when walking. Drive your car and ride your bike a little slower. As mentioned above, eat slower. Take in life around you a bit instead of focusing on setting a new speed record.
3. You can gain clarity and find and do what is most important.
As everything moves a bit too fast it is easy to get lost. If you don’t think about what you are doing then you can easily get lose half your work day doing busywork. You mind just think “Hurry, hurry, hurry! What is the next thing?” instead of “What is the best use of my time and energy?”
How to slow down: When I get lost in such frantic and stressful activity I take a deep breath. I just take in my surroundings for a minute or two to relax and reconnect with this present moment. Then I ask myself:
What is the most important thing I can do right now?
Or I ask myself: If I only had two hours to work today then what would I spend those two hours working on?
As you take a breath, slow down and reconnect with what is most important a calm and focused energy and effectiveness replaces the frantic and stressed energy of a mind that is going too fast for its own good. Then you can take action and start doing the most important things one at a time.
This is not only helpful for daily decisions but for bigger decisions too. As you slow down it becomes easier to find a healthy perspective and to think things through in a clear and calm way.
4. You can get new ideas and let creativity flow again.
If your mind is constantly bombarded with new information, voices and sounds then it will be very hard to find room for creativity and for getting new ideas. Influences are good for creativity but a overload of input just makes you feel like your mind is overstuffed and like you are just trying to keep up with it all.
So you may need to slow down and free up some space in that mind.
How to slow down: Take a break. Or take a walk. Sit down in nature and watch the ocean. Or take a shower. Or take a while to just lie down on your bed and sofa and shut out the world for that time. Just be there without much thought about what you want to do or about the past or future. Just relax and be there and focus on the world around you.
The thing is that when you don’t focus on needing new ideas or on needing to be creative then your mind starts to relax and work on its own. And soon ideas start to pop up out of nowhere in your mind. Just be sure to write them down immediately as they can pass and disappear out into the world quickly again.
5. You can connect with the present moment and just fully enjoy what is happening right now.
When you are aligned with the present moment you tend to feel good and relaxed. Your mood is optimistic. You do your work in a focused manner and the social part of your life tends to go smoother and become more fun. You do things well without having to think that much at all really. You are flowing.
This is a wonderful headspace to spend as much of your week in as you can. You feel and work better this way.
This is also a good headspace to simply enjoy your life. It helps you appreciate the little and big things in life fully because you are fully there when they happen instead of planning for the future or reliving the past so intensely that you can’t fully appreciate and enjoy a meal, a conversation with a friend or a walk by the ocean.
How to slow down:
I usually just slow down what I am doing and go to a full stop. Then I take in my surroundings fully as they are happening right now for a minute or two.
I listen to the cars going by the house. I watch my desktop and the glass of water next to it. I may look out the window and see blue sky, the white snow and the cold air outside standing still. I feel the slight chilliness of the floor, the warmth in the air in this room and I feel the cold water in my mouth as I take a sip.
This is all I focus on as I slow down my day for a few minutes to move out of confusion, stress and daydreaming and into this moment. It may sound a bit odd but it makes a world of difference.