It is rather ironic that while technology has technically given us more freedom, we often use that freedom to make our lives busier than they have ever been before. We are busy, busy, busy and we seem to have lost the art of allowing ourselves to be bored and savouring the sweetness of doing nothing. We schedule every moment of our lives (there is no doubt an app for scheduling), we carry our smart phones with us like a shield, and we move quickly through our day, because the quicker we move, the more we will achieve. Late at night, we fall into bed exhausted, with our ‘to do’ list running through our head.
Life doesn’t need to be this way, sometimes we move so quickly that we miss the little things that can make life so precious. Slowing down means appreciating and enjoying more. Pursuing a slow life can be a challenge, as it can seemingly go against the tide of our modern lives, but choosing to slow down your life is a conscious decision that can bring much joy and peace.
1. Do less
It is almost impossible to slow down when you are trying to do a million things at once. Funnily enough also, by doing less you can often achieve so much more. This might sound a little paradoxical but by doing less you might even find that your productivity will increase. Imagine if you could focus on one thing at a time and do it well and enjoy it. As modern human creatures we tend to get a little anxious if our afternoons, weekends and holiday times are not filled with an endless stream of planned activities. Stop and think what is important and focus on that. Simply do less.
2. Be present
Being present is something that poses a challenge, especially with the introduction of technology and social media. Learn to be present and mindful of what you are doing right now. If your mind starts wandering to what needs to be done tomorrow, what someone said in the past, bring it back and focus on what you are doing right now. Regardless of whether it is enjoying a delicious lunch or doing the washing up, focus on that activity and that alone. If you are washing up, enjoy the feeling of the suds on your hands and the warmth of the water. Being present allows yourself to fully immerse yourself in what you are doing and it is a key to slowing life down to the stage where it is enjoyable, regardless of what you are doing.
This is a simple one. Disconnect. You don’t need to be connected all the time and it can lead to an overwhelming sense of life moving too quickly. Whether it is a day or an evening every week, take the time to disconnect. When it is time to sleep, leave your devices outside the bedroom. I don’t know of anyone whose life was hampered by not being able to check their Instagram or Facebook feed as soon as their eyes were opened. Give yourself time when you don’t know what is going on in the world and focus on the here and now.
4. Focus on the people you are with
If you are with someone, then be with them. Regardless of whether it is your children, your friends, your parents or your work colleagues. Make a rule that if you are talking to someone that you will never pick up your phone. We have all seen people out at dinner, with phones in hand, only half listening to what is being said. If you go out for dinner leave your phone at home and promise yourself that you will focus on the people who are with you. Watch their faces, listen to their words and return to a world of old-fashioned communication when it was all about listening and watching.
5. Get outside
Explore the great outdoors. Even if it is only your own back-yard. Take your shoes and socks off and enjoy the feeling of the grass between your toes. Lie on your back and watch the clouds in the skies, listen to the birds, feel the sun on your face, close your eyes and just breathe.
6. Look for beauty in anything
Looking for pleasure, beauty and enjoyment is a skill that we have lost as humans. We would often rather moan about the glass half empty, or get lost in the sadness of the drought, or worry about the latest calamity that has happened in the world. It is hard not to, when we surround ourselves with information and news that is largely negative. Make a promise to yourself that you will look for pleasure before you look for anything else. Even if it is as simple as acknowledging that the weather is beautiful today, or the feel of your dog’s head as they rest in your lap, or the smell of blossoms in the garden. It is amazing how much beauty you will find when you actively seek it.
Don’t proclaim to the world that you are a multi-tasker, instead pursue the art of being a single-tasker. Doing one task at a time and doing it well will de-stress your life and make you focus on what is important. Work out what tasks are the most important to you and do them one step at a time.
8. Say no
Learn to say no. Saying no is not a matter of disappointing people or missing out on anything. Saying no is all about the skill of prioritizing what is important to you. If it is late at night and you are weary, say no to that extra episode of whatever you are watching on Netflix and enjoy the feeling of going to bed early. If someone asks you to do something and you don’t feel you have the time, say no. It can be hard to say no, but it is also a way of saying yes to you and a slower more enjoyable life.
Don’t forget to breathe. If your life is busy and you are wondering how you are going to fit it all in, stop and breathe. Take 10 deep breaths in and out focus on your breath, breathe in the oxygen and breathe out the stress. Often taking the time to breathe can slow the world down and give you a completely different perspective on life.