We live in a culture of speed. Everything from computers, smart phones and trains run faster and faster. And we are linked into that speed with our electronic umbilical cords. But does all this speed really benefit us? According to Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber, author of The Art of Time: Gain New Mastery Over Your Life and the Power to Live Your Time Instead of Simply Spending It , this acceleration has profoundly changed not only the way we live, but the way we think. “We have substituted the long view with an obsession with instant gratification,” says Servan-Schreiber. “Speed has its upsides, because it enables progress and the enrichment of society. But our determination to master time has, paradoxically, led to it getting away from us.” As a result, we narrow our horizons, stifle our behavior and leave no space to grow.
Do you welcome more time to just sit and think? Do you long to be creative, to relax with the people you love? It’s important to take time daily on your own, to turn off the computer and TV, to read a book, meditate or daydream. Are you ready to make the choice to slow down and reap the rewards that can come from this shift in your behavior? The first step is to identify your “speed motivations” below. Then learn some tips to take things more slowly.
Your Motivator: A Passion for Beginnings
You are the kind of person who is invigorated by new projects. Each new project brings hope for renewal. Your need for new beginnings corresponds with an urge to live life fully and is about seeking an ideal. You start everything convinced you will finish it and may find it difficult to make mistakes or fail.
How to Slow Down: Accept that you can’t be a hero every day. Pay closer attention to the simple things. Savor the present moment. Ask yourself, “Who am I trying to please?”
Your Motivator: A Fear of Failure
In trying to avoid the possibility of failure, you end up spreading yourself thin and never finishing a project. You pretend you are giving yourself lots of chances to succeed, but in reality you are fleeing from opportunities.
How to Slow Down: Ask yourself why you are so afraid to fail and succeed. Write down your responses to shed new light on your behavior.
Your Motivator: A Taste for Challenge
You always want to do more: higher, louder, more extreme. You associate everyday things with routine and mediocrity. You spend a lot of time and energy to stay on top and keep the adventure going.
How to Slow Down: Ask yourself why and for whom you feel the need to set yourself challenges. What would happen if you didn’t? Learn to distinguish what you want from what you need.
Your Motivator: A Fear of Not Having Anything to Do
You would do anything rather than face the void. You have anxiety about nothingness, and may feel guilty when you’re not producing. The number of activities you do, relationships you maintain, and projects in the works helps you fight off melancholy.
How to Slow Down: Accept that some days life will seem less full and exhilarating than others. Avoid anxiety and depression by remembering that doing nothing is equally valuable when you use your time to reflect and be introspective for a while.
If you find yourself on the run, chasing some elusive goal, driving yourself crazy with the need to go, go, go, then it’s time to get your life on an even keel. Slow down and smell the roses…it just might be the ticket to greater emotional wellbeing and pleasure.
Psychologies Magazine, November 2010, pp. 82-86.