The Elegance of Slow

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Slow is so much more elegant than fast. It’s all in the pure luxury of taking the time necessary, rather than always rushing to completion. For instance, taking the time to enjoy a phone conversation rather than sending only vital information via text, or taking the time to sit out on the terrace with our cup of coffee in the morning, rather than gulping it in the car, or taking the time to talk to our children as they get ready for school, rather than barking orders and being angry when they practice the art of slow. It’s difficult to look serene when we’re harried, it’s difficult to be polite, and really listen to others, when we’re constantly pressed for time, and it’s difficult to live in the moment when our mind is racing about all we must accomplish by the end of the day. Yes, slow is much more elegant than fast, and I’m quickly becoming a fan.

I’m not certain where the obsession with fast began, but somewhere along the way our society decided that being busy was a status symbol. After all, if we’re needed in eleven different places at once, then we must be important. If we’re busy all of the time, then we must be needed. We compete for the “Busiest Award” over cocktail party conversations, and the illusion of busy fools even the most well-lived among us. The problem is that fast is addictive. Fast is cool, fast is hip, fast is sexy. Worst of all, fast is easy. Fast is also misleading. Fast tricks us into thinking that we’re getting things done. It tricks us into believing that we have everything under control. Multi-tasking, the sister of fast, whispers in our ear that we can do even more if we’ll only split our attention.

Slow, on the other hand, can seem old fashioned, outdated and dull. It can lead others to think that we can’t keep up. It can make us feel as if we’re behind the times, and that we just can’t compete in today’s world of fast. Or so I thought, until I went geocaching with my former work team and was taught the term “slower is faster”. We were taught to pay attention to clues and signs on the road, and to our instruction sheets. We were taught to listen to, and to consider, all of the team member’s opinions before dashing off with a half-baked plan. In other words, we were taught the value of slowing down. Slow helps us make fewer mistakes that must be corrected later. Slow helps us think more clearly. Slow enables us to make better decisions. If we just slow down a touch, we look more calm and in control, and we make those around us feel much more at ease with our leadership skills. Slow tells us to listen to every word our partner is telling us about their day. Slow allows us to stop working at five o’clock for yoga class, even though there are three more presentations to build. At work, those that deliver with a calm demeanour seem more in control than those that appear over worked, flustered and exasperated. Slow is the reason we sit and talk with our child while they’re in the bath, rather than doing the dinner dishes right this moment. Slow helps us remember the life we’re living and the day we’ve had too, rather than arriving home in our car without knowing exactly how we got there. Slow doesn’t make us sweat.

To be fair, there are times we must all be quick. We have deadlines at work, split second decisions are sometimes required in life, and the train is never going to wait if we’re strolling through the terminal, but many times we’ve created situations that force us to rush. Pressing the snooze button one more time, and procrastinating on work projects come to mind. Some people spend all sorts of time on Facebook in the morning, and then they’re irritable as they rush out the door to get to work or school on time. The digital age that was intended to give us more time has been allowed to steal our time instead.

Slow takes effort for most of us, though. After a lifetime of being told to hurry up, to be more productive, to squeeze more in to our day and to require more of others, it’s difficult to deprogram. Luckily, we can relearn what we’ve lost as we’ve grown up. It takes remembering the value of being present. That is the elegance of slow. If we watch children or dogs at play we see it. If we watch girlfriends having a long, leisurely lunch we see it. If we watch two people deep in conversation, and deeply in love we see it. There isn’t anywhere else they’d rather be, or anything else they’d rather be doing. There are resources available to help with regaining our slow. The Human Performance Institute, for example, teaches that stress is good and very necessary for our growth, but that rest, and being exactly where we are will help put fast back in its place. It’s marketed for those in the corporate world, but it’s essential for anyone wanting to find their true priorities, and manage their energy to relentlessly guard and fulfill those priorities. In Praise of Slow is another resource dedicated to helping us understand what the demands of today’s world do to us and to our children, and how to counteract the competitive pressure to be busy, busier, busiest.

As in everything, it’s all about moderation. It’s about knowing when we’ve gone too far and too deep into fast, and how to find our way back. It’s about having the yin of fast and exciting, balanced with the yang of slow and experiencing. It’s about having the luxury to take the time when we want to, and the ability to be present wherever we are. It’s about relearning the elegant art of living a complete life. We may accomplish less when we regain a bit of slow, although the jury is still out on that point, but we’ll remember and enjoy more of the things we do keep on our priority list. You want to know the very best part of slowing down though? It’s that it’s absolutely free, and yet adds so much value to our life.

So whether you’re working, reading, playing, traveling, shopping, studying, or just enjoying life, slow down out there, and let me know how it goes.

Suggested reading~

The Power of Full Engagement

In Praise of Slow

The Precious Present

 

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35 thoughts on “The Elegance of Slow”

  1. I so enjoy this blog! As a frequent victim to the status of being busy, being reminded to slow down and be present is needed. Thank you for taking the time to help us incorporate some elegance into our overloaded lives.

    1. Thank you for the kind comment Kelsey! I look forward to hearing the lovely ways you slow down and are kind to yourself.

      Best wishes,
      D

  2. Oh yes, geocaching and the team at Grand Dynamics. That was one of the best trips we had. Of course I have not applied the slower is faster mantra because I have been moving too fast to be slow – if you know what I mean. Great post D.

  3. Slow is so much more elegant than fast. I agree whole-heartedly! I’m writing a post on Quality over Quantity (aka Less is More) and I think it’s all part of the same thing. Enjoy your time, the things you have and the people in your life. If you are really soaking it all in, you will be doing less but enjoying more.

    Loved this post!

    Latest Blog Post : TBS COMMANDMENT #1: Thou shall seek true love – when shopping! http://bit.ly/shopping_truelove

  4. Great!! Loved it! You are an inspiration, DeeAnne. Your thoughts and words are really helpful…and comforting reminders to slow down and enjoy life. Life is way too short to waste time being in a hurry.

    1. Hello Steph! So good to hear from you, and thank you for the very kind words. Life is far too short, and I suddenly started having the feeling that I’d be at the end of my life not remembering any of the wonderful experiences because I was too busy racing to the next milestone. A bit like that feeling I mentioned of arriving home in your car, only to realize you had no idea how you’d gotten there.

      I’m so happy to have reconnected with you, I have so many fond memories of our time together! xoxo, D

      1. Me too, DeeAnne, so happy to have found you on FB!! It seems that we are both in very happy places in our lives!! So fun to hear of your adventures and love in London!! I love reading your inspiring writings! Have fun visiting with Denise! Big hugs to both of you. Love, Steph

  5. I’m wouldn’t consider myself fast-paced (like New Yorkers) but I don’t think I slow down enough to appreciate each word that someone speaks. I’m always thinking of what they’re going to say next, onto the next thing. This is particularly problematic in romantic relationships as it leads to feeling unappreciated, neglected, unimportant – our fingers have to stay typing, stay moving, and we can’t allow ourselves to just sit and listen. As much as I want to (and as much as it is troubling that it is no longer natural for most of us), I know it’s a challenge. I appreciate this post, it helped me slow down, at least temporarily.

    1. Hello Lindsey!
      I so agree with your thoughts on slowing down to really listen to someone. What a difference it can make in that person’s life, and in our own!
      Thank you for commenting,
      D

  6. “It’s about having the yin of fast and exciting, balanced with the yang of slow and experiencing.”

    Perfect!!

    So nice to leisurely meander my way through this post. :)

  7. Beautiful and most elegant post Deeane, thank you. :) Great to see the trend toward slower, mindful and more meaningful living.
    I like that in the Zen Buddhist tradition the effort to be more mindful and present in all things we do is called our practice.
    To me it means that I don’t need to be perfect, I don’t need to change all at once – my habits improve daily as I continue to learn. I’m practicing being the person I aspire to be.
    I was lucky to attend the inaugural Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco a few months ago. You might like to check it out. Some wonderful insights and wisdom shared about being aware, mindful and learning to be slow. http://wisdom2summit.com/
    Namaste :)

    1. Thank you so much David! I love your comments on the journey towards more joyous and meaningful living being a practice. It’s one of the things I also love about yoga. My perfectionist tendencies get to take a break for just a moment, and I can be where I am and who I am…imperfectly.

      Thank you for the Wisdom 2.0 Conference link too. Very powerful stuff.

      Very best,
      D

  8. Oh how I love this post! I agree wholeheartedly and work very hard to have ‘slow’ in my life. One of my New Years resolutions last year was to ‘not rush’. If that meant I missed a train in the morning, then I would just take the next one. I learned quickly that NOT pressing the snooze button one more time was actually more of a reward…. 😉 How wonderful it feels to stroll through the station and to sip the coffee, instead of gulping. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. If we all continue to do this, I think we can start a revolution! :)

    1. “One of my New Years resolutions last year was to ‘not rush’. If that meant I missed a train in the morning, then I would just take the next one. I learned quickly that NOT pressing the snooze button one more time was actually more of a reward….”

      Lovely!

      Thank you Erika!

  9. Great post! A friend and I have recently been discussing our world’s obsession with multitasking. It would be a beautiful thing indeed if we would get back to the quality vs. quantity work ethic, and choosing to live life, rather than being controlled by all of the electronic devices that have taken over our lives so we can stay in constant contact with each other. As much as I love my friends, I do not need to know where they are and what they are doing every millisecond of the day. Some people call that stalking and codependent behavior. Just sayin’.

    1. I like the way you and your friend think! I can’t remember the last time that all of the cell phones at the dinner table were not turned to vibrate, but were turned to off, where we all had each other’s undivided attention. Sounds heavenly though, doesn’t it?

      Have a wonderful, slow week!
      D

  10. Hi DeeAnne, this is beautiful. I had to post it to my company’s FB page! (http://bit.ly/cakTGq) I wish everyone would slow down and focus on their relationships with themselves and their loved ones. We’d all be happier and healthier. I for one am glad that I was a child before the internet was invented. I remember just going out for the day with my friends to explore and make up games and just hang out. I miss just hanging out with friends….now it all has to be scheduled in advance, cancelled, rescheduled, rushed, and involve doing something, instead of just enjoying spending time with each other. “Can Karen come out and play?” YES!

  11. I have to say I don’t usually read full blog posts, but rather just skim through to pick out the essentials. It didn’t take long before I was hooked and read every word with a nice, slow and joyful pace. Thanks for the post it was spot on. Been thinking more and more about how I dread todays society, and how I’m about to just pack up all my things, sell them and move somewhere quiet. This is a nice motivator to take things slower and focus on whats important.

    I don’t want to take focus away from your blog, but I suggest having a look at zenhabits by Leo. That is my favorite blog on habits. I’ll be sure to send him an email with your blog. I think you guys have a lot in common.

    J

    1. Hello J,

      Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comment. I’m really honoured that it resonated with you!

      And I, too, am a big fan of Leo’s…you probably won’t be surprised to learn, and I am really, really touched that you see similarities in our views.

      My very best wishes for your own slow life,
      DeeAnne

  12. I’m learning to move slower. That being all rush rush doesn’t get things done necessarily very well. However, I’ve seen the results of a project done well when I took time with it. When I asked the right questions, pondered and then acted.

    I want this to become a habit.

    I am learning to be present. To enjoy the moment. Instead of always pressing for the future.

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