It’s 2013. People want to live longer, achieve beyond expectations, do things faster and carry out more things simultaneously. The result? Life passes you by with a fair share of depression, anxiety, and ill health.
What can we do about this problem? One answer is to live by the rule of quality as opposed to quantity. Slow down and savour the moment as opposed to being fast and ferocious, wanting it all.
There are so many activities that are improved by taking things a little slower. Exercising, eating, speaking, that extra coffee in the morning and the dreaded homework that young people have to endure can all benefit from an unhurried, more focussed attitude. Simply breathing slowly before you begin a task or when things get tricky can help you centre your thoughts. Try breathing in for six seconds and exhaling for 10 a few times; it really does help and is very calming too.
Teach your children this simple technique because results of many substantial research reports prove that a calm and relaxed mind is the best state to learn new things and solve problems. Think of times when you were trying to juggle too many tasks; there is clutter in your mind. Errands may get forgotten and work may not be completed to the standard you wish whilst energy and time is wasted.
In comparison, think of tasks you do when you are focussed. They are completed methodically, enabling you to achieve quality. How does this make you feel compared to the irritable voice of a parent who tells their children to hurry up? Of course, there are deadlines to meet and school bells to beat, but take some time to think about the impact you want as your child enters their classroom. Consider a scenario when the traffic was unusually slow and there was nothing you could do and your child got dressed relatively quickly that morning.
What is the use in stressing and exasperating in such a situation? Is it not better to say, “…oh well…” and then they arrive at their class without shame and anxiety? It’s a choice. All your thoughts, actions and words are a choice.
Creating a better life balance is a fundamental strategy for wellbeing. Yes, speed does have a place but it is very different to rushed or flustered. What exactly should we focus on when speeding up? When it comes to making decisions, which we make all day every day, choices can be faster and less torturous if you set yourself and your children some rules.
For instance, say that we will only be in this shop for only 10 minutes, focus on buying certain items and will select what we want from only three shops. Adding structure, boundaries and focus makes decision-making so much easier. The Internet provides you with the myth that you should search everywhere; look at several brands and compare prices. It even has tools to help you with this. You can compare gadgets and quality reviews.
As great as this might sound, it has a downside. You may wish to spend your time doing something different and, on occasions, good enough can be enough. Decide in advance how long you want to search or how many options you want to explore and then be disciplined. Stop browsing by consciously ignoring other possibilities as they can go on forever; so ignore ‘what ifs’.
Ignore the trivial
It is a very clever and useful tool to be able to consciously and actively ignore things. We are persistently bombarded with information, a great deal of which is out of our control and irrelevant.
This skill has a whole host of applications. For example, just because you have a phone, it does not mean that you have to answer it or carry it with you. Of course, there are times when this is essential, when things are urgent and important, but on other occasions, think about what you really want to do at that time. Do you want a quick chat with a friend about nothing in particular or do you want to read or play with your child?
Choosing here really will mean that you are focussed on what you are doing instead of doing two things half-heartedly. The same applies to emails. Do you open every email just in case? Do you read emails that you know are not important to you just because they were sent to you? Do you reply immediately? Are you compelled to reply at all?
If you delete or do not answer to a mail that is not important to you, rather than letting yourself be intimidated into dealing with it, you are making yourself so much more time for more important things. Again, this skill can be shared with your child as they begin to send and receive their own texts and email messages.
Technology tries to convince us that fast is better, easier and more effective. Nevertheless, remember the passion and effort it takes to write a handwritten note or letter which is also usually more memorable to the receiver.
Women, in general, are supposed to be able to multitask more effectively than men. Research shows that most men focus on one thing. For example, they watch television and find it difficult to answer questions or listen to other conversations. Is this a bad thing? Not really.
They are living in the moment and concentrating on the one thing they wish to do. On the other hand, women need to know the consequence of this multitasking. We are never truly giving full attention to the other person or the task in hand. In short, it could be argued as quantity over quality. Decide what you metaphorically or physically want to switch off in order to focus.
Shared adventures, caring, memories as well as learning about each other are the foundations of close relationships. So, the old basics like cooking together with your child, walking the dog, telling stories of your past, sharing photographs or playing a board game really do still have their place. The good news is that by leveraging and using your on/off/ignore button more often you can increase the quality of your special moments.
The start of a new year is a great time to rediscover your relationship with life. This is about prioritising, exploring deeper and spending more time doing the things you love and to press the delete button on anything that does not keep you on this track. It is very clear cut. You are not programmed to do things 24/7. In contrast, you need to be passionate about your choices, spontaneous and surprising even. You need to have structure, of course, but by moving in ‘slow motion’ when you have the chance, you savour the moment, live in the present, and notice improvements and achievements. You grow and treasure your special relationships more deeply. Imagine the life your child can have if they focus on ‘now’ and on quality?
What a great way to live and learn!