When You Want It NOW: How to Slow Down for More Peace

Are you always in a hurry?

Microwave ovens, 24-hour shopping and one-day delivery, TV streaming, and air travel have trained us to expect that our desires can be satisfied any time, any place, and pronto.  Some of us never stop acquiring new treats.  When we're rewarded so quickly every time we push a button, we just keep pushing that button.

in a hurry

A world addicted to speed

And what about things that take a little longer?  A home-cooked meal, an auto trip, a handwritten note, a conversation?  We become "too busy" for those things, and let takeout or frozen meals, speeding, and likes and emojis do that work for us.

A world addicted to speed isn't very pleasant.  It makes us pushy, anxious, and short-tempered.  Our bodies and nervous systems are constantly on high alert, and don't handle the too-frequent doses of "fight or flight" hormones very well.  And lasting relationships built on care and trust don't flourish on terse texts and rushed exchanges.

I'm not exempt from all of this.  I have a habit of impatience, and I need to deal with that.  So how can I practice something different?

9 steps to more patience and calm

1.  Recognize impatience.

I've started to notice when my habit of hurrying makes me push, or when I feel anxious and stressed because something isn't happening immediately.  

Let's be honest – our habit of wanting immediate results is a bit childish.  If I want to be less selfish, I have to pay attention to my attitude and actions.

2.  Deliberately choose to slow down.

This is a choice I have to make multiple times per day.  

3.  Remove nonessentials.

I aspire to be less busy.  I don't try to fill every minute of every day, but leave space between each task and appointment for the inevitable snags that arise, or simply for small moments of rest or contemplation.  My days unfold more smoothly when I don't over-schedule (and I actually get more done).

4.  Turn off advertising.

Ads are everywhere and relentless, but I want to stop being sold to.  I block ads as much as possible, and I don't add needless shopping to my schedule.

in a rush
5.  Control news intake.

I decided to stop being shocked and titillated.  I check headlines once early and once later in the day, flagging articles I want to read when I have a break for reading.  I don't needlessly split my attention by having the news or a talk show on in the background.  After all, "breaking news" is usually what's been repeated over and over (and over) for the last several hours.  I don't need to listen in or worry about "keeping up."

6.  Keep a journal.

Even a sentence or two about what made me smile, what I think is worth remembering, what went right, or what went wrong and what I learned from it makes each day valuable and distinct.

7.  Notice your surroundings.

I especially pay attention to any enjoyable details along the way.

8.  Count your blessings.

It sounds trite, but when I notice and give thanks for what I already have, I feel so much more satisfaction than when I focus on what I don't have, or on what I wish for.

9.  Redefine happiness.

I don't need to own a lot of things or experience it "all" in order to be happy.  Watching the sun rise through clouds this morning while listening to one of my favorite pieces of music actually brought tears of joy to my eyes.  I could have been in a big hurry, missed the moment, and been poorer because of it.

The added benefit of a lightly slower, less busy lifestyle is not only less stress, but more focus.  We can all find a greater feeling of accomplishment and peace when we're able to give our best to the tasks and activities we choose to do.

Resist the fast-forward life.

Updated May 2023


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