Do you ever get the feeling life is lived too quickly? Perhaps, it’s a byproduct of technology and instant gratification. Either way, I wonder if we’d be doing ourselves a favor if we just slowed down a bit.
Personally, I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to slow down. I enjoy living fast. It’s an exciting world out there just waiting to be explored! But I’ve found glimpses of a life lived slower and those glimpses have been windows into a more satisfied, more intentional life.
You might think slowing down parts of our lives would kill our productivity game. Weirdly enough, that’s the best part about slowing down — it forces us to prioritize. By slowing down, we move the highest-priority items to the top, spend more time on those items and work with laser-focused intensity.
Because simplifying our lives means also streamlining our mental game, I’ve started performing certain tasks slower to see if I can calm the sense of rush and busyness that often leads to anxiety.
Here are five small activities we can use as speed bumps to slow us down throughout the day:
1. Eat slower.
What a beautiful thing, eating is. God could have easily created beings that didn’t need any nourishment. Or He could have made us like machines and we just refill our fuel tanks every 200 miles. But instead, He gave us food and drink with flavor and texture — sweet, smooth, sour, chewy, bitter, crunchy, savory, tender. None of this meal-in-a-shake, flavorless sludge.
Give me a smoking hot, well-seasoned steak with a loaded potato and some grilled veggies. Give me a soothing cup of tea. Give me a crisp apple. Give me a melt-in-your-mouth bite of chocolate. Give me a tall glass of cool water. I want to eat with intention, savoring each bite and being refreshed with each sip as opposed to choking something down between meetings. Eat slower.
2. Drive slower.
Honestly, this one is more out of sanity than enjoyment, but I think driving can be enjoyable too. I think back to when I returned from my trip across Europe and how badly I craved to get behind the wheel again. Maneuvering your machine at 70mph with the wind whipping through your hair and the tunes cranked up is a genuinely enjoyable experience.
When we drive slow (and by slow, I just mean the speed limit), not only are we safer, but we relax a bit. The speed demons flying past us aren’t of any concern to us. Aggressive driving isn’t even an issue because you’re not worried about speed. Just sit back and enjoy the drive.
Consequently, when we make an intentional habit of driving slower, we begin to leave earlier. By default, we’re required to give ourselves a bit more time on the road and thus expand the buffers of time between appointments. Because you’re focused on a few important things instead of a lot of pointless things, giving yourself more time for each activity is doable. Drive slower.
3. Walk slower.
I don’t know about you but I’m one of those fast walkers. I’m not a huge fan of dawdling in the halls. I’m the guy who walks way too close behind the people dragging their feet in the hallways, nearly tripping over himself as he looks for an opening to skirt by.
What if, like driving, we simply lengthened the time between appointments and tried to enjoy the commute? I think if we walked a bit slower, we’d discover things that add a certain beauty to life. You know, “stop and smell the roses.” Maybe then, we’d actually see and appreciate the simple things. Walk slower.
4. Start and end your day slower.
One of the best decisions I’ve made has been giving myself the morning. I wake up with enough time to shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, read and otherwise enjoy the morning before I leave for work.
I guarantee that the process of waking up with enough time to get your mind and body moving before starting your day is better for you than the 30 minutes of restless sleep you’re trying to steal between snoozes. Give it a try — your routine doesn’t have to be complex. Just allow yourself the morning and evening to wind up and wind down. Start and end your day slower.
You don’t have to change the chemistry of your life. These are little things spaced out across your day that you can do to savor life a bit more. I don’t think I’ll be slowing the overall pace of my life anytime soon — I like moving fast. But sometimes, I need to press pause and not rush by too quickly.