Slow down

Life can happen in a blur if we let it. Doing things quickly can easily become the norm, adding extra – generally unnecessary – pressure to our already fairly pressurised lives. As is so often the case with life’s challenges, what can easily arise is a vicious circle that we can get trapped in. We feel under pressure so we do things quickly. Our lives then become less satisfying, so we try to squeeze more in (rather than relish what we already have); to fit more in we have to do things more quickly, and that makes us feel more pressurised. The more pressurised we feel, the greater the temptation to do things quickly. And there we are, locked in, and we will then find it a struggle to get out.

A clear and important example of this is eating. Most people do not savour their food, they do not get maximum pleasure and satisfaction from it. People grab something quickly for breakfast, perhaps, in a rush to get to work or school or to get to the day’s tasks. Similarly, for many people, lunch is a quick sandwich, often while they are doing something else at the same time. And evening meals are often not as leisurely and enjoyable as they could be.

But things are beginning to change. More and more people are appreciating the benefits of eating slowly. More people are recognizing that there is little point having tasty food if it disappears from your mouth without your having had the opportunity to appreciate the flavour. Food can be swallowed without being chewed properly, which is not only a recipe for indigestion problems, but also a waste of culinary pleasure.

But food is just one example of this tendency to do things faster than necessary, just so that we can rush on to the next thing we are going to do quickly. I have earlier pointed out that rushing is not generally a wise strategy, but this does not mean that we should go to the opposite extreme of wasting time dawdling. It is, of course, a matter of achieving a helpful balance.

If you are one of the people who tends to move swiftly from one thing to another, thereby denying yourself the opportunity to savour the moment, whether that is savouring the food or any other aspects of our lives, slowing down can make a big positive difference. How often do people put music on, but not actually listen to it, because their minds are already racing on to the next thing? How often are people involved in conversations that they are not actually listening to?

Many people will claim that they have to do things quickly, because they do not have time to do them slowly: ‘I don’t have time’ is the common refrain, but, of course, in reality, time is the only thing we do have. And so the wisdom of not savouring that time is therefore very questionable. Indeed, if we ask ourselves what it is that we are so keen to get to that we can’t savour our lives in the process, the answer must be – stark though it may seem – death.

So, should you spend your life hanging around ‘savouring the moment’? No, of course not, that is certainly not what I am advocating. That would involve going from one unhelpful extreme to another. It is more a case of asking ourselves: Do we have to be doing things quite so quickly? Should we perhaps be better tuned in to the idea of ‘more haste, less speed’? Enjoy your food more; enjoy your life more. Ge the balance right.

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Dr Neil Thompson

About the Author:

Neil Thompson is a writer, trainer and consultant who has published several best-selling textbooks. He edits THE humansolutions BULLETIN, a fortnightly e-zine. For a no cost subscription go to http://www.humansolutions.org/bulletin. He also tutors the online learning community, The Avenue Professional Development Programme: http://www.apdp.org.uk.
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