In a world where everything is fast-paced, the hardest thing to do can be to slow down.
I have a hypothesis that slowing down is a secret ingredient that’s missing in many people’s lives. I believe that by not slowing down, many people are missing out on a deeper level of happiness and joy.
When you’re in a routine of waking up, drinking caffeine, running around all day, working your tail off, basically burning the candle at both ends, it’s hard to get into a relaxed state of mind.
Being in a relaxed state of being allows you to get back to your core essence. It’s like going back to who you were as a kid.
Have you ever looked at a child in awe of the sheer amount of fun they have?
That playful state of being is something we tend to forget from as we grow up and become shaped by society.
As I grew up into my late teens, then early 20’s, my natural relaxed state of being got further and further away from my day to day state of mind.
Part of this was due to the demands of the world (school), which induced more anxiety. The habits I developed to cope with the increased demands led to me having the feeling that there was ALWAYS more that needed to be done.
I felt the urge to be at every party, study as much as possible, be the best friend and family member I could be, work as hard as I could at lacrosse, and do many other things. These are all noble goals, but when the goal is to do more, you eventually become drained.
It’s not a surprise that these doing tendencies became my natural way of being. The Western world actually praises doing more. Buy more, earn more, do more. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way it is.
I’m a huge advocate of crushing it at life, accomplishing your goals, and pushing the limits of your capabilities when you need to. But there is a limit to how much each of us can do, and it’s not always simply about doing more.
Not all of us are wired to get more joy from always doing more. In fact, many people would find more joy by doing less than they currently are.
Most days I get caught in the cycle of trying to do too much. I feel like doing stuff even when I don’t have to. When I have 5 extra minutes, I start to think about all the things I could do to fill the space.
This mind state has led to achievement, but not always a deep state of joy.
At some point, I realized that what I really wanted in life wasn’t just the temporary good feelings that come from achievement and doing things. I realized what I wanted really wanted was to live in a state of inner peace and joy.
As soon as I realized this, I realized my achiever tendencies weren’t always creating this outcome for me. I realized that my achiever tendencies were all future-oriented, and that I was missing out on a lot of the joy available in the present moment.
So how do you know when you need to put more focus on just being present in the moment?
That’s up to you to figure out. Start paying attention to your body’s signals. See if you can notice your habitual tendencies, such as pulling out your smartphone when you don’t have anything to do. Start to see if you can notice the ways you avoid doing nothing.
As an example, one sign my body gives my when it wants to simply do nothing is a headache and pressure in my temples. Another sign is a feeling of restlessness where I feel uncomfortable just being still (this tends to happen when I drink too much caffeine).
This slowing down process isn’t easy and it’s always a work in progress. For me, slowing down is truly one of the hardest things to do.
But when you take time to relax, you give your body a chance to get back to its natural state.
I’m not advocating a lifestyle of hanging on the couch. Not at all. Daily exercise and lifting is an extremely important component to my happiness. I’ll always be an athlete working hard to maintain my body in peak physical shape.
What I’m advocating is the yin and the yang. You should push your mind and body each day, as this creates growth. But you should also take time each day to get your body into a relaxed state.
This is why meditation is so helpful for me. It forces me to sit down and do nothing for a specific amount of time. And there’s usually a timer to make sure I don’t cheat and get up early.
Today, I invite you to find a minute to slow down. Check into your body. Tune into the rhythm of your breath. Take a second to do nothing. That space of nothingness may just be your key to everything.