Learning to live life in the slow lane
After many years of being ‘busy’, I have decided that I want to live life in the slow lane. Pottering about, ‘being mindful’ and soaking in the beauty around me, seems like a far better approach to life. I read once that the joy of life is not in the doing and having but it is in the being. I couldn’t agree more.
When and why did we begin to glamourise a hectic way of life? How did being ‘busy’ all the time become equated to success and productivity? Have we become addicted to just ‘doing stuff’?
Recently I have started to take a step back from my day to day activities and unlearn ‘busy’ habits that saw me running around forever trying to catch my tail.
The idea of forever being busy and having things to do, has been glamourised throughout the years and somehow I had convinced myself that, that was the way life had to be in order for me to feel happier. It felt like I was punishing myself constantly. Forever running behind success. Always thinking I wasn’t and would never be enough.
These days I prefer a more gentle approach to my day. See I don’t believe that being content comes from doing more and working your way through those ’10 ways to..’ lists either. I think it comes from taking a step back and noticing what your mind/body/soul is trying to communicate to you.
My journey to life in the slow lane
A huge part of my healing began when I gave myself time to just sit down and think and notice what was going on inside of me. In fact unbeknownst to pretty much everyone, I began to dedicate an entire morning per week to working on my healing alone. It became my number one priority.
That meant that I had to sit down with uncomfortable feelings over and over again and face some really hard truths. It meant that I would often be brought to tears whilst sitting alone in a coffee shop during a journaling practice. It meant long walks. It meant reading. It meant that I was taking in exactly what my soul was asking for and then acting upon that, rather then becoming embroiled in the rat race and just doing what I thought everyone else was doing and that I should be doing.
Prior to this, I was Miss.todolist. I still am to some degree, but nowadays the difference is that I won’t compromise on ‘me’ time. Everything else can fall to the way side until I feel ok in myself. If I feel off, I have to get to the root of it and work on it, until I have weeded it out.
Scarcity Vs Abundance
To me this obsession with doing things, plays into the scarcity vs abundance mindset. There is always an underlying and unspoken pressure around getting maximum activity out of your time because time is finite..and yes it is but how you use your time is up to you. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean productivity or efficiency. There is a general feeling that there is never enough time to be successful and therefore happy. Think about the people that are idolised nowadays and the parts of their lives that they show. There is more focus on how busy they are running from one meeting to another and less on their down time.
The concept of an abundance mindset versus a scarcity mindset is fairly well known. In The 7 Habits of Successful People by Steven Covey, the author mentions that most people think in terms of ‘there is only so much pie to go around.’ If someone else gets a piece of pie that means there’s less for you, less for everyone and so sometimes people ‘hate’, become envious and fall into despair. The assumption is that somehow when someone else gets something into their lives, it negatively impacts you. In stark contrast, an abundance mindset teaches that sharing the pie, means the pie gets bigger for everyone.
We also have the same attitude towards time. I have spoken to several people who feel like they cannot give themselves just 10 minutes a day. JUST.10.MINUTES.
The Spiritual Perspective
When I think about it from a spiritual perspective, I think about how most religions in the world actively encourage slowing down, mindfulness, meditation. There is much written about just sitting with yourself, understanding yourself, analysing your behaviour. Why? Because it benefits the soul. It is a form of self love/self respect/self discipline. In my opinion without those things as a foundation, we don’t necessarily want the best for ourselves and therefore we cannot achieve true happiness.
These days, with the addition of social media life is busier then ever. Social Media actively encourages a short attention span. Think never ending ‘quick’ stories and snapshots into peoples lives. So we have to be even more mindful about slowing down and disconnecting. I worry about the future generations. It has been ingrained into our children to not sit still because there is always more to do or learn or see. I worry that this will affect their happiness and ability to love themselves. I sincerely hope it doesn’t and I pray that the art of slowing down is encouraged by parents and educators alike.
I hope that we all learn to slow down, breathe, reflect and love ourselves more in the way that we deserve. After all, true success isn’t getting burnt out and only being able to give 20% to every thing in your life. To me true success is having spare time, contentment and being able to sit still long enough to just listen to what your soul is craving.
Let me know your thoughts. I love to hear from you. 🙂