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April 19, 2019

Slow Down. No, Really: Slow Down

I like to listen to podcasts in the morning as I’m preparing for the day. The other day, I was listening to a “Science of Happiness” podcast called, “Delight in the Unexpected.” Now, this podcast is worthRoss Gay "Delighting in the Unexpected" listening to for any number of reasons, but one that stood out for me is the powerful reminder of the value of slowing down…of savoring a moment. The narrator, Ross Gay, tells a story about watching a hummingbird alight on a tree, and the sheer joy he experienced watching its movements. And I was entranced along with him, savoring this beautiful moment of slowing down to notice the activities of a hummingbird.

Meanwhile, here’s what else is happening in my head, as I’m listening to this podcast describing the joys of slowing down.

Well, before I tell you that, you should know that I suffer from plantar fasciitis, which means that I use special inserts in my shoes. Those inserts are not cheap, so I typically just have one pair, which I switch between shoes.

So, I’m listening to this podcast describing the joys of slowing down. And meanwhile, in my head, I’m thinking, “ugh, god, I forgot that the inserts are in this one pair of shoes, so I have to go through the bother of switching them into this other pair of shoes before I head downstairs. WHAT a pain in the ass. HOW annoying. WHAT a waste of time. That’s EASILY 30 SECONDS of my life that I’ll never get back.”

via GIPHY

You might have noticed the irony. I did…as soon as I slowed down enough to do so LOL.

And it took my breath away. It took my breath away, the disconnect between how I say I live and how I actually live. It took my breath away how unaware I mostly am of the steady nonsense patter happening in my brain.

You can bet that I slowed myself down that very instant. I was like, nope, not gonna fret about those damn inserts. I’m going to be present with those inserts, is what I’m going to do; appreciate that I have shoes to wear and places to go, enjoy the sensation of sliding my feet into those shoes with the inserts.

Seriously, though. It was such a welcome reminder to re-align my values with my practices. I took a moment to notice the scent of the toothpaste, feel the cottony comfort of my tee shirt, luxuriate in the warm breeze wafting through the open window. And I chose to take a walk with my friend imi to admire the spring blossom bounty in our neighborhood. (Thanks for the photos, imi!)

Not surprisingly, there’s ample research supporting the notion that it’s to our benefit to savor, which is to say, “Next time something good happens, stop whatever you are doing, give it a second, and appreciate that moment.” ← that article is really worth reading. Really.

There are also numerous reasons that “slow” is better than “fast.” Indeed, “Slowness may even be an index of recovery in mental health.”

And apparently, “savoring positive emotions is a strategy that can optimize your health and well-being.”

Here’s my offer to you as you enter the weekend: what unexpected delights will you encounter tonight, tomorrow, the next day? What are ways you can reconnect how you say you live with how you actually live? How can you align the patter in your head with your best daily practices?

Stop and smell the…cute little white flowery tree blossoms

And will you share so the rest of us can learn from you?

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Habit Change, ILP, Vega