First published in the Inishowen Independent.
Admittedly, I have a love hate with all things technical. When it works and if it is used effectively it can enrich our lives in so many ways. However, it’s an irony of our modern lives that while technology is continually invented to save us time we use that time to do more and more things, and so our lives are more hectic than ever. 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. If you feel you are caught up in a whirlwind of life try one or two of these to slow you down and take time to smell the simple life.
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 is really important, and let go of the rest. Put space between tasks and appointments, so you can move through your days at a more leisurely pace.
2. Be present. 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.
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.
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.
5. Appreciate nature. Spend time outside in 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. 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 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. Try 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. Speed is a pretty prevalent problem and is responsible for a lot of traffic accidents, stress, and wasted fuel. Get into the habit of leaving more time for your journey and drive slower.
8. Find pleasure in everything from washing the dishes to visiting a crabbit relative. Life can be so much more enjoyable if you make up your mind that every experience will be a positive one.
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.
10. Breathe. When you find yourself speeding up and stressing out, pause, and take a deep breath. 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. 🙂