I’ve recently gotten several messages in my life about the need to slow down and be patient. I resisted them because I’m a very busy person, and I have a lot to do, but they keep coming up and interrupting my very important activities. I find that I do get wrapped up in the “doing” of everyday life, the “being” tends to lose out. I don’t take the time I need to refresh, and end up doing everything else less well because I am moving on to the next thing before I am completely finished with the task in front of me. This all comes from a sense of being rushed.
I had a conversation about this with a friend, who said he didn’t feel he could slow down because other people were depending on him and needed him to make fast decisions, and his over-scheduled work day didn’t allow for time to do things carefully and slowly with patience. After our conversation, though, he decided to try it. And it worked! He reported back that he felt like he had more time and space to make decisions when he reminded himself to slow down or reminded himself that he had plenty of time to figure this out. He realized that nothing terrible happened when he took a few more seconds or even minutes to respond, and that many things seemed to work even more smoothly because there was less need to reconfigure once a decision was made.
When we slow down, we believe that things will take longer to complete, and some of them will, but we will also find that other things take less time. It all balances out in the end. Have you ever found yourself in the middle of something and feeling like you were missing one or even several pieces? It takes time to go back and hunt them down so that you can finish your project. Slowing down allows the time to go through the checklist and have all your materials together before beginning it.
My biggest fear about slowing down is that I will miss out on other things that I could be doing because I am taking the time to do this now. In reality, I might miss some things, but I find that I don’t really miss them if I am focused and intent on what I am doing. In fact, I don’t even notice the other things. I also find that I get more enjoyment out of everything when I am taking the time to do things well. I don’t rush through them, and I notice things I didn’t notice before: how I’m breathing, what I am feeling, what I am thinking, how good it feels to do this motion (or how uncomfortable), the fleeting satisfaction of completing a task. I find that I am truly more efficient when doing this well the first time than having to go back and fix them later.
Choose one task or group of tasks that you can do mindfully and slowly. It could be washing the dishes or walking the dog or having a conversation. Just experiment and see what happens for you. It may not change your life, but it could change your perspective, and it might even change the outcome! (I’d love to hear what happens for you!)