Slow down

mindfulness perspective purpose what matters Sep 09, 2020
slow down

Ever have a day when you’ve flown from task to task so fast that you can’t even be sure your feet hit the ground? You collapse at the end of the day, exhausted, only to do it again tomorrow.

Some people even take pride in that pace of life. They see it as a virtue. We can even get addicted to it. We may feel wrong when we aren’t putting out another fire, tackling a problem, or started another big project.

The problem is this: when we’re charging full steam all the time, we place a lot at risk. Our health, our relationships, and, in the end, our lives. I’m not even saying our lives as if to say we’re risking death (we may be) but to waste our lives pursuing things that don’t matter in the end.

Imagine working your butt off your entire life, only to find you didn’t do anything that truly satisfied you. That’s tragic!

But we get caught in that cycle of “work hard, sleep, repeat” early in life and it’s hard to imagine any other way.

There is another way. It may take time to come around to it, but it can change. It starts with slowing down.

Take time to assess your actions

Before starting a task, ask yourself, “Does this matter and why?”

By asking this simple question, you begin to grow your awareness of your actions. You may even get the answer wrong but that doesn’t matter. You’ll learn as you grow.

Other good questions… What’s the end result of doing this? Does it really have value?

Take time to be mindful

Many of us move from task to task so fast, we miss a lot of the very important little stuff around us. It’s very much why we do a little page flipping in the Define My Day process. I wanted to force myself to take moments to be mindful. It was, and still is, a daily challenge to myself to take time to stop and think.

Don’t fill each gap in time with a check of email, your phone, social media, etc. Stop and breathe. Listen. Close your eyes and just let thoughts happen.

In my family, we got in the habit of immediately leaving the dinner table to do our thing. We’d jump back on iPads, TV, or back into work. We started making time to sit after dinner. No plan. Just sit there for 15 minutes or more. Some of us were grumpy about it at first but eventually, amazing conversations happened. We talked about things we never would have before. Serious things and silly things… all important.

Amazing things happen when you stop and take time to be present.

Challenge your perspective

We’ve all had that experience where we’re struggling to do something. We’re focused really hard on tackling an issue or resolving a problem. Out of exhaustion, we take a break and a step back, then the solution presents itself and we have a “duh” moment. Think Clark Griswald and the Christmas lights… it was the light-switch the whole time… “duh!”

The real problem is the damage he did to Santa and the reindeer before Ellen figured it out.

What damage are we doing by not taking a step back to rethink the situation?

Throughout the day, preferably before you burn out, ask yourself, “is there a better way to do this?” And give yourself time to think about it for a few moments. Don’t forget the question from earlier, “does this even matter?” Aka “should I be doing it?”

Keep the end in mind

We get so caught up in life that we forget to enjoy it. When we don’t take time to pick our heads up and look around, we find ourselves pretty far down the wrong path.

Simply put, create space throughout the day. Slow down and be open to another way.