In times of stress, life throws everything at you. You feel overworked. Your relationships drain your energy. And your leisure activities become strenuous obligations. In short, you feel like a kite dancing in a hurricane. That’s when you need to take your foot off the gas. On this basis, here are 6 mindful ways to slow your life down.
I need to make six figures this year. I am in my late twenties, I should think about buying a house. My friends are getting tied down, am I late to the party?
Those are the types of questions that pop up when we are stressed out.
Our modern world is a speed fest.
Living slowly is the exception, not the norm. We try to outpace each other to the detriment of our mindfulness, satisfaction, and serenity.
Constant acceleration is, however, temporary. No matter the size or power of your life’s engine, it is finite. At one point, your tank will be empty and you’ll have to fill up.
The most mindful ways to slow your life down
When your engine needs a break, there are several effective methods to decelerate. The following are some of the most mindful ways to slow your life down.
1. Meditate daily
Meditation is practically synonymous with living slowly.
I know what you are thinking. Meditation? That’s for hippies in the Himalayas.
Even though public opinion has changed, many people still see the practice in a spiritual, transcendent way. And there is some truth to that.
But meditation can also be simple, practical, and down-to-earth.
You don’t need to be a guru to engage in mindfulness. Ray Dalio, Marc Benioff, and Bill Ford are among a series of billionaire entrepreneurs who meditate daily. Do they strike you as gurus? Probably not.
Here’s the secret: once you find your way of meditating, you’ll be able to utilize the powers of mind-clearing.
In this context, I usually incorporate a short stint of mediation into my morning routine.
I use a simple method. Sit down, take a step back, and think about the day ahead.
Imagine a waterfall or another soothing nature phenomenon. Stay still for five minutes and your mind starts to vacuum out negative thoughts.
Thanks to its calming effect, a short daily spell of meditation is among the best mindful ways to slow your life down.
2. Travel with less cramped-up itineraries
We all know the drill. After a long stretch of work, we get that two-week vacation. We ponder where to go and end up planning Europe in ten days.
Holidays should be an opportunity to slow down, not to accelerate.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a passionate traveler and I love exploring more than anything else.
I would never spend two weeks in an all-inclusive resort and I will always choose intriguing cultural experiences over lazy days at the pool.
Nevertheless, travel should be an opportunity to soak in a novel atmosphere, not to cross off as many items as possible from a list.
Take your time and enjoy the places you visit. Sit down at a café and do some people watching. Spend hours admiring enticing art. And don’t try to visit every single sight in a day.
No matter how much time you have, experiencing a foreign ambiance calmly is one of the most mindful ways to slow your life down.
3. Improve, don’t fill your to-do list
To-do lists are the new codes of conduct. Many people worship them like sacred texts.
To-do lists should, however, serve your life, not the other way around. When you start to live for your to-do list, you have a problem.
Focus on improving, not filling your to-do list.
What activities are truly essential? How can I draft a schedule that’s both ambitious and realistic?
The best course of action is to start small. If you want to slow your life down, create to-do lists with the most important tasks, and nothing else. Work your way up toward incorporating more activities.
By gradually setting-up to-do lists, you learn how to prioritize. You become more attuned to what’s paramount and what’s futile.
As an example, when I first became a minimalist, I used to add every little house chore to my to-do list.
It became apparent that things like “clean the kitchen counters” and “store the shoes” were obvious 3-minute activities. Those didn’t require extra mentioning.
I subsequently established a daily minimalist good habits list for trivial acts of decluttering – freeing up space on my to-do list for major tasks.
4. Don’t try to impress anyone
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” – Dave Ramsey
The best way to slow down is to stop acting according to external cues. I need to buy that car because it fits my new job. I need to dine at a specific restaurant to impress my date.
All of these external cues will stress you out. They will pile up and fuel your anxiety.
The problem is that you’re always behind. You’re following a trend before the next one comes along. You’re impressing a person until the next one shows up. And finally, you’ll always want more – more stuff, more money, and more acknowledgment.
The candidates to impress are endless. But your possibilities are not.
Consequently, the solution is to act according to self-defined principles.
Once your principles are clear, healthy, and effective, you’ll find people with overlapping values. The need to impress will quickly vanish.
5. Say no sometimes
Mindfulness requires prioritization. And prioritization goes hand in hand with decisions.
We make daily decisions on what to do, what to buy, and how to react. We are bombarded with choices. And saying no is often frowned upon.
You have to do as many internships as possible. Say yes to every business offer. Meet as many people as possible. And don’t ever skip networking events.
Most opportunities are great. We generally benefit from new challenges and we shouldn’t close our minds to meeting new people.
However, there comes a point when too many yeses lead to exhaustion. Too many challenges, new relationships, and projects will burn us out.
There is a fine line between taking on enough challenges and staying mentally serene.
How do we deal with this dichotomy?
The magic word is balance. Living slowly means balancing out yeses and nos.
First, you have to learn how many yeses your personality can tolerate.
Some people are better suited to manage three businesses at the same time. Some can handle ten high-quality relationships while others prefer a couple of deep connections. Find your limits in every domain and say yes and no accordingly.
Secondly, define priorities. In every aspect of life, your priorities can help you make decisions and these will form your balance over time.
6. Don’t have too many irons in the fire
Akin to saying no sometimes, don’t try to be everywhere at the same time. You don’t have a time machine and you cannot make clones of yourself.
When it comes to activities, relationships, and professional projects, focus on quality rather than quantity.
We all know that person who wants to lose 10 pounds and starts every single diet known to man at the same time.
The problem with having too many irons in the fire is that none of them will produce high-quality results.
Let’s say five people invite you to their respective party on the same evening. You can’t be at all of them. If you do, you’ll spend five minutes at each party and nothing will be memorable or satisfying.
If you’re trying to become proficient in Spanish, Japanese, and Swedish at the same time, chances are you’ll learn none of them properly.
Fuel your mindfulness by slowing down. Start with six months of Spanish classes. Once you’re reasonably proficient, take on Japanese.
Personal growth is not a contest of who can do the most in the least time.
It’s a marathon to achieve your most beneficial result. Multi-tasking, therefore, rarely bears any fruits.
Focus your energy, creativity, and talent on one activity at a time. You’ll feel slower, but more content.
With patience, the results of slow personal growth will easily outshine the results of wild multi-tasking.
Useful links on 6 Mindful Ways to Slow Your Life Down
- more in the section “Life”
- more under the topic “Mindfulness”
- read 6 Effective Minimalist Habits That Changed My Life
- read 6 Ways to Empty Your Mind if You Are Stressed Out