The Art Of Rushing Slowly – How To Slow Down And Get More Done
Did you ever see the movie Wild? It’s the true story of writer Cheryl Strayed – played by Reese Witherspoon – who hikes the 4600 km Pacific Crest Trail on the west coast of America? My idea of heaven!!
For the past week I’ve been binge watching videos of people doing that trail, or sections of it, fantasising about taking five months out to just be in nature. No stuff, no shopping, no pressure!!
Today I’m talking about actions you can take to slow down the pace of your own life – without having to trek alone in the wilderness for five solid months. And why it’s so important we slow down.
No tips or tricks here though, on how to cull your todo list. This is about slowing down the pace at which you move through life, physically. So you can tune into the messages from the Universe and your own higher self, for the sake of your health and happiness.
Do you ever notice that you’re racing around on high speed, even when there’s absolutely no need?
It’s gotten to the point that even when you’re not in a hurry these days, you are. Even if it’s just walking from the bathroom to the bedroom or filling the car with petrol, there’s a sense of urgency. To get it done. To get through it. To get to the next thing.
Maybe you’re doing it right now. Rushing through these first few sentences to decide whether you’ll bother or not. Skimming. It’s what everyone does these days. So many tabs open all at once. But not only online. We’re skimming life itself. With way too many tabs open all day long. But hear this. Much of our rushing is habitual. Rushing to work, rushing to get home again. Filling every tiny space in between. Putting on makeup at the traffic lights, checking emails on the bus.
Our addiction to cramming more in and getting more done is wreaking havoc in our lives. Our health, our happiness and our mental wellbeing are all at stake as we’re increasingly living in permanent fight or flight. We’re sabotaging our sleep, our relationships, and – wait for it – our productivity.
Because – and here’s the thing I most want you to hear – in our desperation to squeeze the bejesus out of every day, we waste a lot of time. Why? Because when we rush through life we often wind up spending time on the wrong things. Or messing up the important ones.
Think about it. With a scrambled brain, you make a lot more mistakes. Time consuming mistakes. Stressed out and fatigued you take wrong turns, you’re late for meetings, you lose things, smash your phone, turn up for work with your pants inside out, forget where you parked, get parking fines, and lose it with the kids over the homework. At the end of the day you fall in a frazzled, burnt out heap. But not before you’ve wasted a few precious hours trawling social media and online fashion sites.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that life really IS full sometimes, and the urgency is real. But there’s a way to rush with presence, and without stress. I call it the art of rushing slowly. And when you get it, life starts to slow down.
Because life doesn’t get still, until you get still. Isn’t that an amazing thought? Life will never slow down until you do.
Essentially this is about learning to slow down your inner tempo. To find some inner stillness. So that even when you’re zooming about, or stuck in traffic – when you’re desperate to be zooming about – on the inside you’re relaxed and calm. I know it might sound unachievable but I promise you if you put this into practice the outer circumstances of your life will begin to reorganise themselves to reflect the way you feel on the inside.
So here you go:
Two ideas to help you slow down, inside and out.
1. Pick something you do most days that you habitually rush through, and slow it right down.
Whether it’s hanging washing, doing the dishes or helping with the homework, choose something that you see as a chore and take your time with it. Of course I’m going to tell you to do it mindfully, because that’s my job. And that’s what this is really all about. It’s about being in the moment and cultivating acceptance of the moment, as it is. Rather than steaming through it to get to a moment that’s worthier of your time and attention.
So whatever you choose, notice everything about it. The smells, the sounds, the sensations. But most importantly notice your own energy. The energy in your body that’s saying “hurry the f*** up, this is boring, get this over with already!” Because in reality washing dishes is mainly moving inanimate objects around in soapy water. What’s the big deal?!
2. When you get a spare moment, DON’T fill it. When you’re in the bank or the train station, don’t go for your phone!! Just be dead still and do absolutely nothing. I know how awkward and uncomfortable this can be. Especially if you’re under 25! But hang in there, nobody’s looking at you thinking you’re weird. They’re actually thinking you’re so cool and relaxed, because you don’t seem to need to look at your phone.
It stands to reason that we all need to get real about what’s achievable. And don’t leave everything to the last minute. But slow down and smell the roses. And the dishwater! And see how those other things start taking care of themselves. And then when you’re finally on that tropical beach you’ve been dreaming about (rushing to get to), you won’t need a gallon of margaritas to adjust to the pace.
Alright that’s not the best example because margaritas are awesome! But you get my drift.
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