Slow down and take your time when you can

It is okay not to rush all the time!

By Dr. Ganesh Mohan

It is okay not to rush all the time!

If we examine other mammals, we find that our physiology is fundamentally the same as theirs. Our healthful behaviors should also be aligned with theirs in some fundamental ways. 

Take your dog, for instance. What does your dog do most of the day? Mostly, it is just around, not engaged in anything particularly stressful. It casually pokes around here and there or lounges. It’s true that the dog is fed, eliminating the need to hunt for food. However, even when the dog was a wolf, maybe 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, packs of wolves spent only a small part of the day hunting. The rest of the time, they were socializing, just being around and relaxing. Our pace of modern life, in comparison, is extremely rushed.

In evolutionary terms, I emphasize to people that slowing down is not abnormal; it’s returning to the right normal. Moving through life at a fast pace all the time is damaging to health because our bodies were not designed for it.

Nature’s wisdom and expectation for us is that we should lead a more moderately paced daily life.

I’m not saying that we must move through life at a glacial pace. Nor can we entirely avoid pushing ahead to get things done quickly—because of the demands of the workplace sometimes, or emergencies and so on. But when that rushing becomes a habit, we begin to go through pleasurable and meaningful experiences in our life in the same way.

In that context, consider this perspective: When we decide to speed up and do things quickly, the implicit expectation is that we want future experiences to arrive sooner. This automatic expectation means that we have less attention and time for the current experience.

After all, it is impossible to have both a current experience and a future experience simultaneously, yet that is what we are trying to do when we are in a hurry! And when the future experience arrives to becomes the current experience, we’re already looking ahead to the next experience because we’re always in a rush—as a pattern. This leaves us with insufficient time to savor any experience at each moment.

The result? Less contentment, diminished life satisfaction. Being in a hurry gives us less time to truly experience life, missing out on its richness.

Set the intention to find a better balance in pacing your life. Slowing when there is no need to be in a hurry. You will decrease stress, enjoy life, and have the time for greater wisdom and inner quietness too.

That starts with a simple saṅkalpa—an intention. For instance, you can offer yourself this: “I give myself permission to slow down when I can. I appreciate the richness of life and wisdom that this can give me.”