The Benefits of Going at a Lower Pace: Believe in a Positive Change

Illustration depicting a person walking leisurely, symbolizing the benefits of going at a lower pace for a more fulfilling life.

Being busy is not enough; even the ants have things to do. To what end are we spending our time?

Henry David Thoreau

When I first moved here four years ago, I had no idea how to unwind. I was never able to master the art of slowing down. I was good at many things other than taking time off, including starting a business, training a pit bull, and hiking 12 miles.

Now that I think about it, I realize how scared I really was. If I slowed down, I knew I’d be stuck there forever. My to-do list is going to disintegrate!” Everyone I know and work with will be upset with me. The thought that “my life will come tumbling down around me!” kept running through my head.

Because of my worries, I gave every task my full attention until I finally failed. My life was a series of “full throttle, then a crash” events. When I didn’t take care of myself, my mind and body would shut down.

My pace needed to be slowed down. I started taking little breaks now and again and found that my “relaxing” time was really rather unhappy. My newfound leisure time would be awash with intense feelings that my hectic routine had previously held at bay.

Because of the peace and quiet, the things I had been trying to avoid caught up with me. However, as I ran, the goals I had set for myself appeared to recede more and more. That horrible slowdown!

Besides the fact that it was required, I installed an adjustable toggle switch in my life, and gradually I started to take greater pleasure in living. I was patient enough to let the feelings wash over me.

Taking it easy means reducing the usual 14-hour workday to 12 hours on certain days. When my mind and body needed a break, I would sometimes blank out by watching TV. My understanding gradually shifted to the fact that I wasn’t being asked to substantially reduce my pace.

Let me be sincere. It was tough to slow down. Slowing down seemed like a terrible admission of weakness, but in reality, it helped me take better care of myself, which in turn made me stronger and more resilient.

Developing my trust in my ability to achieve my goals by prioritizing self-care was essential to my personal development. Having faith in the procedure provided the confidence I needed to start talking to myself.

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At that point, I finally started to believe in myself and the people around me. The worst-case scenarios did not materialize. With each attempt, I grew in my capacity for suppleness, ease, and kindness.

There’s a lot more potential in me. My therapist and I have been joking that I need a dimmer switch in my brain rather than an on/off one. There are no more “Go, Go, Go!” days; instead, we have 90% and 80% productivity levels.

Now I have less worry and stress and more happiness and calm. My week always includes time for practicing mindfulness and self-compassion. I’ve found that slowing down is beneficial.

If you’re wondering whether or not slowing down is a smart idea, consider the following nine questions:

1. How much am I paying for my hectic schedule? Am I unable to enjoy the things that matter to me?

2. Am I getting warning signs from my body that I’m pushing myself too hard?

3. Do I ever wake up and dread the day ahead? The question is, “How often?”

4. How many of the things I do each week leave me wanting more? How many are sucking the life force out of me?

5. Why do I keep busy? Is there any truth to their arguments?

6. Is slowing down by 10% really going to be the end of the world? Think about the worst that might happen. The next step is to consider the worst possible outcome. Explain.

7. If I slowed down by 10%, what would I gain?

8. To whom do you hold yourself in comparison? Are you basing your decisions in life on what other people will think or on what will bring you the most joy?

9. What would it take to slow down? Who might I ask for assistance here? What responsibilities may I hand off to someone else?

If you want to slow down your thinking and get clearer answers, try answering these questions either in writing or out loud to a buddy.

In equal measure, life is both brief and long. It is possible to slow down. You have my trust.

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