We live in a world that demands that we be highly productive, goal oriented, mobile, adaptive and high achievers both at work and in our private lives. Often, we move so fast that sometimes we find it impossible to slow down and appreciate where we are in any particular moment. We think if we slow down it means we’re lazy.
It’s important that we succeed in life, maintain our health and happiness, and constantly be on the move to develop, grow, and improve. And we must do all of that while maintaining a happy and positive attitude.
Not all cultures view being fast as being better as the American society does. If we’re fast we’re producing more but are we risking our health and happiness in this pursuit of being first? As Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”
For many of us, status is important. A lot of the busy work we’re doing isn’t necessary for survival. Filling our time with activities, but most of these activates don’t equal happiness. We aren’t able to sit still and be alone with their own thoughts. We have become addicted to busyness and it’s not always a positive thing. In fact, most of the time we’re avoiding feeling fear when we do this.
Eventually, when we live our lives at breakneck speed, we become angry, depressed, and are more prone to getting sick. We see it around us all the time. We’re looking towards medication to help us manage stress, to sleep better, reduce high blood pressure, fix stomach problems, migraines and more—all in the name of living life at this fast pace when our bodies are telling us we need to slow down.
Some of the things we’re experiencing are:
- Lack of purpose and direction
- Chronic fatigue
- Lack of real social connection
- Missing out on life
- Feeling alienated
- Constant feeling that we don’t have enough time
The Japanese have a word for this. It’s called Karoshi. It means death by overwork. In the United States, Dr. Larry Dossey coined the phrase “Time Sickness” in 1982 to talk about the obsessiveness we have about time and how we never have enough of it in our constant drive to do more. We live in a world where the fast outpace the slow and get ahead, but at what cost?
One of the costs of living life at super speed is that we don’t have time to live at a deeper level. Staying at the surface of life, we can’t make genuine connections with others or with our world. We don’t appreciate the food we’re eating, the people we interact with, or the beauty in the world around us.
We’ve lost the art of taking life slow and easy and enjoying the moment.
Not everyone is buying the philosophy that we need to be fast to be happy. For example, something called the Slow Movement was initiated in the ‘80s by Carlo Petrini and is described by Carl Honore in his bestselling non-fiction work In Praise of Slowness as:
The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything in a snail’s pace. Nor is it a Luddite attempt to drag the whole planet back to some pre-industrial utopia. On the contrary, the movement is made up of people like you and me, people who want to live better in a fast-paced, modern world. This is why the Slow philosophy can be summed up in a single word: balance. Be fast when it makes sense to be fast, and be slow when slowness is called for. Seek to live at what musicians call the tempo giusto – the right speed.
The slow movement is not a formal group. Anyone who is interested in slowing things down so they can enjoy life more fully is part of this movement. When we take time to enjoy our food, pay attention to our surroundings, interact with our peers fully and experience life we are participating in a slow movement.
Some of the things we can do to slow down in our lives are:
- Don’t forget who you are and take time to honor that
- Don’t run at turbo speed in everything you do
- Do one thing at a time and do it with mindfulness
- Make connections with the world you live in.
It all comes down to the what kind of life you want. Do you enjoy an aggressive life, where you’re controlled by a clock, stressed out, constantly impatient for what comes next? Or do you want a life where you feel calm, patient and have connections with the people and things around you? It’s time to take control of the clock instead of letting the clock control you.
It’s time to stop running the invisible race where we feel obligated to stay busy. It’s time to let go of the ambition addiction before our health and well-being is damaged. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with the busyness of life, learning to slow down is key. When we slow down, we can appreciate life and that leads to happy and healthy people. It’s not always easy. It’s a choice to slow down. But there are ways to make it a little easier, and you’ll see some of those below. Keep in mind, you don’t have to do everything at once. Find out what works for you and if it doesn’t lead to happiness, don’t do it.
15 Tips for Slowing it Down and Creating Happiness in Your Life:
- Go Outside. Studies have shown that simply going outside has great mental and physical benefits. It will lower your blood pressure, reduce stress, increase memory, boost immunity and create a sense of calm in your life. When you’re outside, take time to actually enjoy the experience. Focus on the feeling of the sun on your face, the breeze on your skin, the feel of the earth beneath your feet.
- Take a Tech Break. We love our technology. It makes our life easier but it can also take over and prevent us from engaging with people and places around us. Making a conscious effort to unplug at least for a limited time will allow you to reengage in life and reduce the stress that is vying for your attention. Create some boundaries in your life as it relates to technology usage.
- Breathe. Taking even five minutes to slow down and pay attention to your breath can help you reengage in the world around you. Focusing on something other than being busy is a great way to reduce stress and slow down. If your attention wanders, gently return that attention to breathing in deeply and breathing out completely.
- Enjoy your morning coffee. Instead of checking your phone, watching the news or reading the paper while you have your morning coffee or tea, drop the multitasking and simply sit and enjoy the taste and feel of your morning beverage. Pay attention to the color, taste, smell, and feel. Sit with your positive thoughts quietly and just enjoy the moment.
- Start slower. Most of us rush out of bed to a clanging alarm and start running. When you start your day this way, the rest of your day can feel rushed and frantic. Start your day slower and with intention to get the right start. If you have to wake up a few minutes earlier, that’s okay. You won’t feel rushed and you’ll have time to enjoy your morning routine. This will positively impact the rest of your day.
- Cross off your To-Dos. Even if we do slow down and simplify, we still have things that we NEED to get done. It is important, however, that we evaluate our to-do lists and get rid of things that aren’t totally necessary. Get rid of the busy work and only do those things that are really a priority.
- Get Quiet. Turn off the TV, Alexa, stereo, podcast, etc and sit in silence for a while. Notice where you are and how you feel. What’s going on around you? What do things look and feel like. Our lives are very noisy with constant distractions. Eliminating those distractions even for a few minutes can help us slow down and refocus.
- Listen. When you’re having a conversation with someone really listen to them. Many of us listen with the intention of formulating our rebuttal. When we give someone our undivided attention, we can connect with them and be more present.
- Clear the Clutter. Having less “stuff” to deal with is a great way to slow down and make time for yourself. Less stuff means less time and attention to manage it.
- Clear the Schedule. We are over scheduled and over busy. Another great way to slow down is to clear the unnecessary appointments from our schedules. It’s okay to say no sometimes. Taking a look at your calendar and removing things that don’t bring value to your life, is a great way to slow down.
- Say No. As we said above, it’s okay to say no. It can be hard for some people because we want to make others happy, but if you’re overbooked and over stressed you can’t be happy yourself. It’s important to set boundaries to protect your health and well-being. Saying yes to things leaves you less time and energy for necessary tasks. If the yes is really important to you, then say yes. Otherwise say no.
- Set Boundaries. Along those same lines, setting boundaries with your time and energy is important to simplifying your life. Setting priorities allows you to recognize what is most important and what isn’t and can be gotten rid of. That will free up time for you to enjoy and connect with life.
- Be Grateful. When we stop being busy and take a minute to be grateful for what we have we find more happiness. It shifts our mindset to a positive. You can practice gratitude anywhere at any time. It only takes a second to think of things you’re grateful for and it reconnects you to your life.
- Make Time. Spending time with the people you love must become a priority. When you do this you’re reminded of what matters most in life and it becomes easier to step away from things that are distractions and busy work.
- Get Grounded. When we feel overwhelmed or rushed, it’s important to get re-grounded to allow ourselves time to slow down and reconnect. Using your senses to relax and bring yourself back to present is important and reduces stress. For more information on getting grounded outside, visit our blog https://braintap.com/get-grounded/.
Using the tips above will help you slow down and enjoy your life. When you feel your daily busyness taking over, taking some time to focus, reengage in real life and slow down will help you feel calm, content and happy. And if you want a little more information on slowing down, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Aly07FNiFA