If you’re a doer - like me - slowing down is difficult.
In our day and age, it’s one of the hardest things to do.
We’ve got phones, social media, computers, cars, planes, etc. that keep us busy checking things, making plans, going places.
These are all great things to do, in moderation.
The problem arises when you are doing these things in compulsion. When you are doing more simply because there is more to do.
I’ve got a secret: there will always be more to do. You can never do it all. If you try, you will likely find yourself feeling overwhelmed on a consistent basis.
Feeling overwhelmed is not a good feeling, so if you tend to experience that, the solution to a happier lifestyle might just be doing less, not more.
I spent the first 24ish years of my life on this planet obsessed with doing more. What I found was that it was truly a hamster wheel, and that the satisfaction that came from doing more was never long lasting fulfillment.
Finally, just this last year, I realized that for me the trick to finding fulfillment was not doing more all the time. It was doing less when I was overwhelmed.
As I started to explore doing less sometimes, joy started arising spontaneously. When you stop to slow down, you start noticing all the little things that make like the wonderful experience that it is.
To be clear - I’m still a type A doer doing my very best to maximize my life experiences every day. That’s why I’m up at 5am every day. I like that lifestyle.
The difference is, I’m now blending these two worlds of doing as much in life as I possibly can while also doing less when my body is telling me to slow down. I recommend you do the same if you want to maximize your fulfillment in life.
In order to do less, I recommend three steps:
1) Become aware of how much you’re doing
2) Become familiar with what it feels like to be overwhelmed
3) Whenever you notice yourself feeling overwhelmed, connect with your breath
Here’s why these 3 steps make sense.
First, you must recognize how fast you’re going if you want to find your optimal speed. If you live your best life at 65 MPH, it’s good to recognize when you’re going 85MPH.
Second, the more familiar you become with what it feels like to be overwhelmed, the more quickly you will be able to recognize it when it starts to happen. In this, as you sharpen your overwhelm radar detection skills, you develop the opportunity to “nip it in the bud” before your overwhelm gets, well, overwhelming.
Third, the trick is to connect with the breath because that brings you back to the present moment. Part of what contributes to overwhelm is shallow breathing, which limits the oxygen your brain/body is getting. When you connect with your breath, expand your breathing to get more oxygen flowing, and let these be relaxing breaths. Don’t stress about breathing correctly, just breathe in a way that feels good for you.
If you’re new to the practice, I recommend focusing on the first step. Just start with awareness. Awareness is the key to unlocking the other steps.
As you go about your day today, I invite you to find at least one moment to slow down, even if just for a few breaths. It just might change your day for the better!