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15th Anniversary INFOBAR xv

In praise of going slowly

Slow down

The picture shows a bench I like to sit on. It's in the middle of the forest and I can sit there for a while and do absolutely nothing. Not reading, not looking at my phone, not writing, not taking pictures (except this one). Just sitting.

The thing is, it took me a while to get here. Not to the bench - that's near my house - but to the ability to slow down and appreciate just sitting.

For years I've thought that doing nothing, not moving quickly, not getting things done, is a waste of time. But the more I rushed, the more time seemed to pass by quickly.

When I started to slow down, and be more mindful of what I was doing, I felt that I had more time, and I was enjoying that time more.

Now now now

We've become obsessed with needing answers, solutions, information, and resolutions immediately. We're increasingly less likely to spend time thinking about a problem or question, and way more likely to simply reach for our phones and demand instant gratification.

And it's permeating every aspect of our lives, from quick-fix diets to speed learning. In the process, we're sucking the joy out of life and willing it to speed up.

As Carl Honoré notes when talking about his book In Praise if Slow (which I haven't read yet):

Life is what’s happening right here, right now – and only by slowing down can you live it to the full. If you are always rushing, you only skim the surface of things.

He's right. Speeding through life left me depressed and unhealthy. I've come to the conclusion that doing the opposite has the opposite effect. Slowing down, both figuratively and literally, is making me happier and healthier. I don't rush to catch trains. I walk and cycle more than I drive. I read books and newspapers rather than skimming things on my phone.

And sometimes I sit in the forest on a bench.


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