My wife and I commute together to work. Our commute is pretty long (we’re hoping to change that soon with a new apartment). During our drives to work and back home again we see a lot of crazy drivers. In the past couple of weeks we’ve seen several dozen drivers going 10+ over the speed limit in 40-45 mph areas, drivers make illegal turns, speed through school zones, cut people off, nearly hit pedestrians and bikers and many other dangerous things. Almost all of these problems are caused by drivers who are in too much of a hurry to worry about anything else.
I don’t want to criticize anyone’s driving habits, but I do want to offer an alternative to our speed-filled lives: slow down.
Slow down your life. Driving too fast usually isn’t the result of a need for speed (although sometimes this is the case). Usually speedy drivers are in a rush to get to work or stressed out. Often they speed through other aspects of life as well. We expect email, text messages, phone calls and other messages to be answered instantly. We pay more for things to be shipped sooner and arrive faster. If a computer or phone is too slow, we buy a new one. If we have slow internet we upgrade it.
I’m not saying that speed is bad. Sometimes speed is great. Faster internet allows us to watch live events or take classes online so we can learn and grow. If our basement is flooding, it’s nice to have a reliable plumber who arrives at our home as fast as possible. But fast doesn’t have to be the only speed for our lives. We don’t need to live at breakneck speeds all the time, or even most of the time.
I suggest we slow down and live at a moderate pace of life. I understand the need to “be on time” or “get through traffic” or whatever the excuse for going fast might be. Slowing down can help us live a more comfortable, peaceful life and still meet our obligations and responsibilities in a timely manner.
How can we slow down?
There are many ways to slow down. Here are a few that I am practicing in my life. I hope these might give you inspiration to begin finding ways to slow down your own life to a more comfortable pace.
1. Drive the speed limit. Be kind to other drivers, obey traffic laws and especially drive the speed limit. This simple practice will help you develop the habit of slowness and mindfulness. It can also save you some cash, as you avoid tickets, hit more green lights and improve gas mileage.
2. Exercise regularly. Sometimes we go as fast as possible to get as much work done as possible. I’m trying to slow down and take care of my body. Focusing solely on moving your body will help you slow down for 10 or 20 minutes.
3. Do nothing. This is probably a deadly sin in productivity circles, but if you just stop everything and do nothing you will find at least a few moments of calm. Put down the TV remote, phone, laptop, game controller, books, chores and anything else. Just sit for a few moments and breathe in the moment. Try not to think about what you have to do or what you “should be doing”. Enjoy this short break. You’ve earned it.
4. Go for a walk. Walking slows down any fast paced life. Going for a walk will help you slow your body and mind. I find that some of my clearest thinking comes while walking. Don’t rush, don’t have a destination or a route. Just walk until you’re done walking.
5. Take a technology Sabbath. Taking a “technology Sabbath” is just a catchy way of saying “turn it off and take a break”! I love technology, but sometimes with a few apps and tabs open it can overwhelm our mind. We multitask and get updates at an increasingly fast pace. Give your brain a break by unplugging and turning off all the devices. Leave them off for a few hours or a whole day if you can. I think you’ll enjoy the slower pace for this short time.