A Slower Pace of Life can Make You Happy
Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going to fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why. ~ Eddie Cantor
Tonight I want to talk about slowing down the pace of your life. As I’ve been writing about the past few weeks I went through a bit of a rough patch lately. I’ve talked many times about the process I take when I’m out of sorts. Getting the basics (sleep, eating, exercise) in order, doing more writing, strengthening good social connections. All of these things are important but tonight I want to focus on slowing down. I’m someone who has a very clear sense of his mortality, I’m under no illusion that I’m guaranteed next year, next week or even tomorrow morning. I try to follow Taoist philosophy in the context of life, planning for the future but living for the day. It’s hard, the concept of the end of life is such a powerful fear for most of us that our minds refuse to consider it. We always think there will be enough time for us to do all of the things we want to do.
Understanding, truly understanding in a conscious way that there won’t necessarily be time puts a special kind of pressure on me. I’ve really started to feel that I don’t want to waste a minute of this gift of life that I’ve been given. The upside, it focuses you, makes you make choices that are more full of value. Not just social value but personal value as well. The downside for me is that it can also send Jack down the dull boy road. You see it’s all too easy for me to get locked into the to do list of things I want/need to get done. Working on my next book, keeping the blog current, building my social media networks, working out, marketing for my current book Appalachian Trail Happiness.
Of course, what you don’t see in that list is just relax and have some fun. I enjoy the things on the list, but when you feel pushed it can all start to feel a little too much like a job. So what do you do?
Steps to a slower pace of life
The first thing is the simplest, the easiest to do and the one that escapes our mind the quickest, just breathe. I mean that literally, of course your breathing, but you’re not breathing correctly, and by that I mean taking deep slow breaths. Deep breathing benefits include lowering blood pressure, relaxing you and helping clear your mind. Just taking several small breaks each day to do a couple of minutes of deep belly breathing can pay more benefits than you would expect. A big one, it helps create that slower pace of life by getting you to clear your head and give you space to think, instead of just doing all of the time.
A site I reference often, Zenhabits.com has some great tips on a piece about slowing down the pace of your life and they include:
- Do less
- Be present
- Focus on people
- Appreciate nature
- Eat slower
- Drive slower
- Find pleasure in anything
- Single task
A lot of these suggestions depend on a single idea, consciously deciding to have a slower pace of life. The proverbial stop and smell the roses if you will. This was something I really experienced on my Appalachian Trail hike. When you are simply walking every day, things slow down, the days get longer and life just moves along at a really amazing pace that just seems more right than the pace we normally live at.
How slowing down can make you happy
As I mentioned above, being out of sorts I work on the basics, I did that. I had some things that were bothering my mind and I worked through a number of them. I also got some things off of my to do list that were putting some pressure on me. But this pace thing has been on my mind and I knew slowing down can make me happy, so I’ve been trying. So what have I been doing?
Well first off, because it’s summer I work 10 hour days and get Fridays off. I’ve also recently moved someplace where I have a pool. Given that our summers here in the Mojave Desert give us temperatures that daily range over a hundred degrees I decided to make use of the pool on Fridays. Now being the second whitest man in America and having recently shaved my head, baking in the sun is not really an option. So I scoped out the pull and realized that around 4PM each day the sun starts to dip behind some trees near the pool and by 6PM the entire pool is bathed in glorious shade. So I bought a couple of pool noodles and each Friday afternoon (well two in a row so far) I take my noodles and trod over to the pool. The pool is really quiet, I have had it to myself each time and I purposefully leave my phone at the apartment. I do a couple of lazy laps when I first get in but quickly I slide up on the noodles, lay back and just float. I spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour like a napping whale in the ocean just letting the wind blow me around the pool. I then get out and lay in the shade, it usually only takes about twenty minutes to completely dry out and start to get warm. Going back to the house I feel incredibly relaxed. It’s a combination of not just taking the downtime, but of also unplugging from all of my communications for an hour or so. No email, no Facebook notifications or marketing calls are able to interrupt that time. During that time I find myself naturally falling into deep belly breathes, a good sign that I’m truly relaxing.
There are other small things I’ve been doing as well. I’m one of those people who eats at his desk while answering emails. I’ve pushed myself to stop that, I’m not perfect, I’m still eating at my desk but I take the time to at least look at something not stressful on the web, a good science article, or video on hiking, a fellow hiking friend Darwin has some great ones through his site Darwin on the trail, check it out. I’ve been taking some breathing breaks and trying like hell to single task but my job doesn’t always allow that to happen. These are things that any of us can do, I’m also just trying to have some stupid fun and even just chill out and watch a movie here or there without being on my computer at the same time. It all seems to be helping and definitely I’ve been feeling happier over the last couple of weeks.
So remember my friends, a slower pace of life can make you happy and that’s worth the effort. So be calm, take a breath and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane
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