Are You Addicted to Speed?

by Stephen Mills on June 13, 2009

Slow Down

By “speed” I don’t mean amphetamines, I mean the speed of your life.  As a kid I remember getting irritated at my father’s slow driving.  I had places to go and things to do and his slow driving was a huge waste of time.  My whole life has been one frustration after another at the slow pace some others moved; starting with school of course.  Talk about slow and boring!

Nothing changed as an adult either.  My first job out of college included a formal training program.  The training was conducted at a center that was formerly a private mansion.  The grounds were beautiful with a lake and magnificent old trees.  My classmates would take breaks and go down by the lake and hang out.  I thought they were lazy and unmotivated.  Not me.  I burned through the training in near-record time and got the hell out of there.  I was proud of my speed.

Rushing around from one activity to another, focusing on getting things done, we tend to place all our priorities on accomplishing tasks on our lists – doing routine housework; preparing meals and eating; commuting to work; getting things done at work; putting in time at the gym; driving our kids to soccer games, swimming lessons, and birthday parties; staying in touch with friends; taking the dog to the groomer; and so on.  Are you tired yet?  In the midst of it all, we become slaves to our to-do lists and become doers instead of be-ers.  We give ourselves little or no time feel, to more fully experience much of our lives.  We forget that our capacity to feel is the very essence of our vitality.  Without feeling, we become zombies or robots, and after a while we are left with a vague sense that our lives are unfulfilled, empty, lacking purpose, and devoid of anything resembling vitality.  –Anat Baniel

Maybe it is just wisdom that comes with age, but for whatever reason I have become a convert to and an advocate of slowing down.  I still have to fight it sometimes; the urge for speed, but I am getting much better at going slower.  It’s time we started slowing down and experiencing life.  It’s extremely cliché but we really do need to stop and smell the roses.

I stood still, paralyzed by the beauty and the magic of this moment. Everything stopped, even my breath. Like a sloth, I didn’t want to move. There was nowhere else I needed or wanted to be. Standing there absorbing the beauty of this place, I stepped out of time. In this timeless moment, I saw and felt the unity of all things. There it was all around me: the chaos of the natural world, silently woven into a tapestry of exquisite, perfect order. I felt at one with the trees, rocks, plants, birds, insects, squirrels, leaves, and water. A witness to this sacred scene, I felt humbled and blessed to be given this moment.

So, this is what the slow lane is about, I realized. Sipping and savoring tiny moments, stopping the clock and slipping out of time, feeling my own heart begin to synchronize with the rhythms of nature and being in the presence of the sacred. Not bad learning for a single visit. I can see possibilities here.

And then, the moment ended and time began again. Reluctantly, I headed back to “civilization”. I could hear the ever-present music of the freeway in the distance. Back to business as usual, the world full of cars, trucks and the people inside them; barreling towards their destinies at speeds too fast to notice life. –Judith Rich

How To Slow Down and Enjoy Life

Be Present in the Moment

When you practice being present and being in the moment, you will automatically slow down.  Check out my three-part series about living in the now: Living Now – Part I, Living Now – Part II, Live Now – Part III

Disconnect

A great way to slow down and start enjoying life again is to disconnect for a while.  It’s tough if you are addicted to your CrackBerry like I am, but you can do it and the resulting sense of freedom is amazing.  Turn off the computer, the cell phone, and the PDA.  Disconnect from your electronic and virtual world for a few hours, for a day, or maybe even for a week.  Do it regularly.

At one time I was going to disconnect one day a week every week.  Maybe I’ll really do it this time.  My recent vacation when I was disconnected for most of the day every day has inspired me again.

Immerse Yourself In Nature

It’s very difficult to go fast surrounded by nature.  Read the passage above by Judith Rich again.  Find you a place of your own.

Meditate

Aside from the other numerous benefits of meditation, it’s a great technique for slowing down.  How can you meditate fast?

Slow Mindful Movement

Yoga is great.  Check out Movement With Attention.

Listen to Soothing Music

Listen to music that sooths your soul.  Stay away from the high-energy stuff when you need to slow down and relax.

Make Time To Be Alone

The demands others make on you is a leading cause of your rushing around hurried lifestyle.  Make time to be alone with your thoughts or just to relax and enjoy yourself.

Read These Articles and Resources

How to Slow Down Now (Please Read Slowly)
10 Ways to Slow Down and Still Get Things Done
In Praise of Slowness
Slow Down and Get Smart
Four Day Work Week
Anti-Productivity: 30 Ways To Slow Down and Relax Like a Cat

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Armen Shirvanian June 13, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Stephen: You’ve got a key point you are bringing up here, about whether the rushing some individuals perform to get ahead is actually getting them ahead in the longer-term. The reminder about nature gets it across well – there wasn’t some huge rushing in our past history. When you go into a forest-type area, a lot of the fake rushing that is done outside of the forest becomes irrelevant because it actually is irrelevant when viewed from a distant perspective.
.-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..Weakness And Lies =-.

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Deb Owen June 13, 2009 at 2:31 pm

So many of us confuse a lot of activity (or anxiety) with productivity. (Or use it as an avoidance from really looking at our lives.)

I have to admit, though.
This is one of the things that I have to be careful of and watch myself.
I seem to be getting a lot of reminders of it lately. ;-)

Thanks for this one!
All the best!
deb
.-= Deb Owen´s last blog ..the number one word that will kill your goals & dreams =-.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills June 13, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Hey Stephen, I could see chapters of my own live as you were recounting yours. For a very long time, the whole concept of patients was foreign to me. Everyone did everything too slow and it drove me nuts. Even though I escaped the rat race and adopted a much mellower pace, I still feel that old lack of patients sometimes when things get real bogged down. I think it’s something that requires attention from time to time no matter what our circumstances. I agree with all of your suggestions.
.-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..Gas Station Wisdom From a Modern Day Sage =-.

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Vin - NaturalBias June 13, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Hello, my name is Vin and I’m a speedaholic. :D I’ve actually fixed my speedy ways, but just as it only takes a sip for an alcoholic to “fall off the wagon”, it doesn’t take much to get me into a frantic and rushed frenzy. What I do to prevent this is focus on my planning to avoid overloading myself and reduce the need to rush. Now that I know how pleasant it is to take life slowly, I have all the incentive in the world to allot myself the necessary time to do things at a relaxed and enjoyable pace. Although, running a blog along with holding a full time job makes this quite a challenge!
.-= Vin – NaturalBias´s last blog ..The Acai Berry: Don’t Believe the Hype =-.

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Evelyn Lim June 14, 2009 at 6:10 am

I enjoyed the quotes you’ve published along with your article. Lovely and how true! We rush through life hoping to always get ahead. In our haste, we fail to experience the magic of each moment. Little wonder that we have no deeper understanding of life itself.

I get my energy by becoming connected from within. When I have enough self nurture, I find that I function more effectively. Yes, making time for myself is an important aspect of my life!
.-= Evelyn Lim´s last blog ..The World Builder In You =-.

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Steve June 14, 2009 at 7:58 am

There is a reason that Biblical wisdom exhorts us to keep one day a week sacred and set apart to rest and to remember out Creator. By doing so, we actually shore up our spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical reserves, so that we are more productive in the long run.
.-= Steve´s last blog ..10 Surefire Principles to Cement Relational Equity =-.

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Karl Staib - Work Happy Now June 14, 2009 at 1:49 pm

My favorite method of slowing down on your list is immerse yourself in nature. I notice that I am stimulated and relaxed by a walk in the woods. I usually take my dog and tire her butt out.

My last walk I stumbled upon a leaf that had weird spotting on it. I took a closer look and saw that the spots were bugs. Little tiny white, red, purple, and yellow bugs. They were so tiny that there had to be over 100 of them on this tiny leaf. I was shocked by the beauty.

I was so glad I took the time to explore and just relax on a Sunday. That walk was a couple weeks ago now and I still think of those beautiful bugs. So intricate and just chilling on that one leaf.
.-= Karl Staib – Work Happy Now´s last blog ..An Itch You Can’t Scratch =-.

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Stephen Mills June 14, 2009 at 5:10 pm

@Armen, exactly! It’s hard to rush in a forest or walking barefoot along a beach.

@Deb, this has been a serious problem for me most of my life. However, there is hope. I can’t believe the difference I have made in myself over the last year. I still have a ways to go though.

@Jonathan, patience is something I have never had but am learning to develop.

@Vin, LOL! I agree that once you taste the slower life there is a lot of incentive to get achieve it. I’m with you on that one.

@Evelyn, thanks. Those passages said a lot to me too and that’s why I included them.

@Steve, Sunday was going to be my day of rest too. It will be so much easier when I retire!

@Karl, that’s my favorite too. It’s just hard in the concrete jungle :-) . I’ve taken to examining the simple things in nature too; things like tree bark and leaves. When you take time to absorb it, a beauty you might never have seen before shines through.

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Giovanna Garcia June 14, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Great post, I love the one about “Disconnect” I found that is the one that works best for me. In today’s world we are all way too connected some how, it is hard to shut it down. Other than just “Disconnect”
Thanks for sharing.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action
.-= Giovanna Garcia´s last blog ..Can you talk a robber out of committing a crime? =-.

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Just Joyce June 15, 2009 at 7:59 am

You still don’t slow down when you are driving dear! But I will keep reminding you. I guess you still need to work on this some more.

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Dragos Roua June 15, 2009 at 2:53 pm

You’re speeding when you’re running. And you’re usually running from something. You’re escaping, avoiding, fearing something. And when you don’t have anything to run from, you’ll lose your balance. You may even fall because the initial impulse is gone. There’s nothing to make run again.

People are so afraid of this enlightening moment when they’ll escape all their fears, and they’ll have no reason for running anymore.

So, they keep carrying them as a pretext…

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Robin Easton June 15, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Hi Stephen, maybe because I lived out of society for so long I have no addiction to speed and find even the slowest of events in my culture too fast. I am very comfortable with just “being”. I thrive on it. I let the world swirl past me…gladly

Most of my life I was so aware of other people’s feelings that I instantly knew if someone was feeling impatient with me. As a kid I used to become flustered and turn it in on myself. But not anymore. If someone is impatient with me I gently ask them to leave my space. I literally do this, lovingly but honestly, calmly but emphatically.

Also due to my awareness of a need for patience I’ve been told I am extremely patient with others. We live in a culture that thrives on and is addicted to speed, even demands speed and I simply refuse to part of it. Over and over I check in with myself to make sure I am allowing myself space, peace and a pace that keeps me centered and aware.
.-= Robin Easton´s last blog ..What Forced You into Awareness? =-.

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Angela June 19, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Excellent advice, thanks for the reminder. :)

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Tehseen | RechargeYourMind June 24, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Real good thoughts Stephen. Your post helped me made some important decisions that I had been confused about for a few days.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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