The word ‘slow’ has had some negative connotations as meaning ‘backward’ or lacking in intelligence. However, the ‘slow philosophy’ is currently growing in popularity among people who want to enjoy life more and take care of their health and relationships.
The Slow Movement encourages people to slow down with the intention of getting a better work/life balance. Part of the philosophy is to place more value on experiences and people and to emphasise quality over quantity in all aspects of living. There is the Slow Cities movement which encourages people to walk around the city or use public transport. There are plenty of park benches where people can sit and think or chat. Food outlets are encouraged to use local produce.
There is Slow Food, a reaction against all the fast food outlets. The philosophy is to take pride and pleasure in preparing and eating food using good quality ingredients. Slow is an Australian magazine which features people who have made a sea change, tree change or are in the process of ‘downshifting’. It also runs articles on places where there is a slower pace of life. People sending in comments are encouraged to use snail mail rather than email, in keeping with the magazine’s philosophy.
Recently I read a quote from the Woman’s Home Companion about the need to slow down and simplify life, ‘Year by year the complexities of this spinning world grow more bewildering and so each year we need all the more to seek peace and comfort in the joyful simplicities.’ I was very surprised when I saw this was written in December 1935. Yes, way back in1935. I thought the desire to slow down and simplify was a more recent phenomenon. I thought life was rather simple back in the 1930s when many people didn’t have a car or a telephone. There were certainly no computers, internet, television, DVD players and no mobile phones.
In 1966 Simon and Garfunkel released the song, 59th Street Bridge Song. The lines, ‘Slow down, you move too fast, You got to make the morning last,’ are certainly true these days. It is so easy to be constantly on the go causing us to miss out on many wonderful everyday experiences. The more we try to pack into our lives the faster we have to move to get it all done and the less we actually feel. We are stressed and tired so we don’t feel the breeze on our face or the sun on our back. We may not have the time to get outside and may not even be sitting near an open window. When we eat we may be reading the paper or watching television so we aren’t conscious of the flavours, texture or the temperature of the food we are eating.
In the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Out, the main character makes the profound statement, ‘‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’ What are we missing in life every day?
A survey found 31% of men and 39% of women feel rushed. It was noted women tend to feel rushed even if they have some spare time. These days there seems to be an expectancy you will be busy and feeling stressed and that if you aren’t you must be a ‘slacker’. Feeling rushed and pressured all the time isn’t good for the human body and mind. It increases the amount of stress hormones and this makes us more susceptible to heart disease and other illnesses. It also drains our energy so we feel tired all the time but we may have sleeping problems because we are so wound up.
What can we do to slow down and make the morning last? Here are a few ideas:
Go for a walk. Leave the mobile at home and spend some time thinking about what is really important to you. What can you stop doing so you aren’t rushing all the time?
Instead of writing a ‘to do’ list, compile a ‘must do’ list. Think carefully and only write down those things that really need to be done. If someone else in your household/work environment insists something you have left off that list needs to be done, delegate the task to them.
Every hour take a few minutes out to close your eyes, stretch and take some slow, deep breaths. Then open your eyes and really look around at the things you take for granted.
When you start to feel frustrated because you are stuck in traffic or have to wait somewhere, take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself if it will matter in a week that you have been delayed. Perhaps you can change your thinking to look at this time as a chance to have a short rest.
Make a point of enjoying the moment. Don’t wait until you are away on holidays to take notice of things around you. Listen to the birds and really listen to what people are saying to you. Notice the different shades of green in the garden. Really look at the clouds. Can you see shapes in them?
There is always more that we could be doing. However, doing more, having more and moving faster doesn’t make our lives better. As Gandhi said, ‘There is more to life than increasing its speed.’
Thanks for your feedback. I am glad you liked the article. A few years back I found I was rushing all the time and didn't get enough sleep. I think I have a more balanced life now. However I have to keep working on it so I don't fall into the trap of taking on too much.