Hi! My name is Arina and I am a former speedaholic!
Being impatient by nature I love speed, instant gratification and ‘quick fixes’. I love modern technology for making my life easier and some tedious home chores much more tolerable. I enjoy high speed internet, fast cars, planes that can get me faster to my destination point and phone calls that are short and right to the point. Because the more time I save, the more I can get done. A second here, a second there and you have got yourself a whole extra minute!
I am sure you know what I mean…
I was convinced that the fast way is the only way to go, because, let’s face it, life is short and time is money.
However, something really strange happened to me two weeks ago. I had a private Italian language lessons at 3:30 p.m. at a friend’s house. I was so busy writing that I completely lost track of time. When I left the house it was already 3:20 p.m. I walked as fast as I could the whole way, looking at my watch every 30 seconds and feeling very anxious, because I hate to make other people wait. I finally got to her house 15 minutes late, feeling out of breath, stressed out and guilty all at the same time.
Two days later I had to go to another lesson again. Only this time I decided to leave early. I left home at 3:05 sharp and I walked slowly enjoying the warm sunny day. I walked past a beautiful park, really noticing for the first time a little old wind mill that was probably brought there as a piece of decoration. I watched how a little two-year old broke into a sprint as soon as his grandfather let him get out of his baby carriage. And when the poor man finally realized what had happened the kid had gotten himself a good 200 yards upper hand. I finally looked at my watch only when I was right in front of my friend’s house. It was 3:15 p.m!
It took me only ten minutes to get to her house, when the last time it had taken me 25 and I was practically running! I took exactly the same roads both times, and my watch was working fine, so how could I get there faster, when I was actually walking slower? This was beyond my comprehension. Maybe you have an explanation?
The shock that you can get somewhere faster without running there at full speed was an eye-opening moment for me. There was definitely a problem with how I manage my time.
Looking back at my routine I realized how often I speed through my life, not really noticing what is happening around me and not being able to stop for even one second just to ‘savor the moment’. Somewhere down the road my days have turned into a never-ending Olympic marathon, where every single day I push myself to set a new record. Get there faster, try harder, squeeze more tasks on my to-do list, talk to more people, answer more emails, and on top of all that crimple some family time in there.
But the harder I tried to get everything done, the more I fell behind. And the more I fell behind, the more I was beating myself up for not trying harder. It was exhausting and frustrating. It had gotten to the point when I could hear an invisible clock ticking even when I was supposed to be having fun and relaxing.
But after thinking about it, I realized that it is not just my problem. Our whole Western society is in love with speed. Think of all the concepts that did not even existed some 50 years ago: speed walking, speed reading, speed dating, speed networking, speed dial, fast food… even speed yoga and speed meditation…
If we are not doing something as fast as we humanly can, if we are not stretching our schedule to cram in as many tasks as possible, if we are not chronically busy, we are often regarded as lazy and unmotivated. The word “slow” has become a synonym of apathetic, passive, unproductive, time-consuming, slack and even dumb.
Most of us are so busy all the time that we do not even realize we are living our lives on fast forward.
We would probably notice how stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, anxious, and exhausted we feel and how little fun we are actually having, except that we do not have time or energy to notice much of anything. The sad truth is that we were not evolved for such speed and we do not tolerate it well either.
I do not know about you, but to me it seems that the cult of speed has gone too far.
Carl Honoré, the unofficial godfather of a growing cultural shift toward slowing down, believes that we have exchanged quality for quantity. More and more people all over the world are gradually coming to the realization that faster is not always better. The Slow Movement is a new cultural shift towards slowing down life’s pace.
As Carl Honoré put it,“The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.”
- Slow eating, enjoying every bite, instead of just shoveling a Big Mac down my mouth?
- Taking time off to spend it with my family, instead of being always ‘on the call’?
- Getting a good night of rest, instead of staying up late working at the kitchen table after the kids are asleep?
- Actually enjoying the drive to work, instead of weaving back and forth, looking for the fastest lane while looking at the clock every 2 minutes?
I am there!
In the past two weeks I have really tried to slow down and break my obsession with speed. I can not say that I am completely ‘recovered’. I still need my dose of ‘speed’ sometimes, but I am definitely much slower now (and I mean this as a compliment. ). My life has become by far more rewarding, fun, and balanced. But most importantly, I have noticed that my productivity has almost doubled and my self-confidence quadrupled.
If you are a ‘speedaholic’ too, I strongly recommend you try consciously slowing down before it is too late…
Because, strangely enough, when you slow down you actually get there faster!