“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
(Annie Dillard, The Writing Life)
Do you need to slow down?
In 2005, Carl Honoré gave a TED Talk about slowness. Talking quickly, he shared his journey to slowness – and why slowing down is vital to a person’s life, a greater culture, and all of humanity. This talk was before the bubble burst in 2008 and the decline of the European economy in recent years. Even then, Honoré remarked at how we were trying to do more and more with less and less time.
Making his case for slowing down, Honoré poked holes in our culture’s obsession with speed. He questioned, “Is busier best?” And argued that less is very often more, slower is very often better.
Personally, I can make a convincing argument for slowing down. When I take my time, I relax and focus. Everyday activities, like grocery shopping and preparing dinner, are made more enjoyable by slowing down. Instead of rushing, I pay attention and leave myself room to breathe. The challenge is giving myself enough time to slow down.
How do you make time to slow down?
Slowing down is a matter of prioritization and choice. There are popular quotes about how we all have the same number of hours in the day – from Thomas Jefferson to Beyoncé. While that is true, it’s easy to overlook the choices and sacrifices that people of great achievement make.
“Speed becomes a way of walling ourselves off from the bigger, deeper questions. We fill our head with distraction, with busyness, so that we don’t have to ask, ‘am I well? Am I happy? Are my children growing up right? Are politicians making good decisions on my behalf?’”
– Carl Honoré in his TED Talk: In Praise of Slowness
Only by clearing away our own “busyness” can we have the space to ask ourselves big questions. How do I want to spend my days? How do I want to spend my life? What mark do I want to leave on this world? Uncovering answers to these questions will help you slow down, prioritize, and make better choices for you.
When you slow down, less is more
When you slow down, you end up doing less. Perhaps it’s less work, but it might be less travel or socializing, or maybe watching less reality TV. You might find that by slowing down and doing less, you end up with a deeper, richer life – that actually feels like more.
“Beyond the great productivity debate lies what may be the most important question at all: What is life for? Most people would agree that work is good for us. It can be fun, even ennobling. Many of us enjoy our jobs – the intellectual challenge, the physical exertion, the socializing, the status. But to let work take over our lives is folly. There are too many important things that need time, such as friends, family, hobbies and rest.”
– Carl Honoré for Kinfolk: In Praise of Slowness
Breathe, slow down, and take your time. Examine how you’re spending your days, think about how you want to spend your life, and then prioritize and make better choices for you. You might come to realize that sacrifices are your way to balance, and that your passions are worthy of significant attention. Or you might simply find that slowing down gives your everyday life a sense of peace.
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