“Why are they walking so slowly?!!” “Get out of the way!” “How long does it take to make a latte?!”
We find slowness tough to tolerate in most contexts: slow drivers, slow service at a restaurant, slow internet, slow responses to an important text or email. Yet back In 2006, the average online shopper was happy to wait 4 seconds for a website to load (Akamai Technologies and Jupiter Research, 2006). Now, we’re frustrated if it isn’t instantaneous.”
Research tells us that rushing makes us more selfish, less observant and more stressed. Neuroscientist David Eagleman says “Time is this rubbery thing. It stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, ‘Oh I got this, everything is as expected,’ it shrinks up.” So when we slow down, it stands to reason that we are more observant.
We associate speed as leading to favourable outcomes: greater job opportunities, a better view at the restaurant, a shorter commute; being ‘slow’ as inferior. Yet there’s a fascinating disconnect between what we desire and what we really need. We rush to maximise life’s efficiency, yet it leads us to stress at the smallest interruption; at the cashier chatting for too long, at the lack of parking outside the shopping centre.
What would life look like if we didn’t rush?
Slowing down lowers our cortisol, our blood pressure, increases our capacity to make good decisions and allows us space to re-appraise our emotional reactions. Slowing down makes us feel more connected to the world and others, and it gives us a greater capacity to be our most patient and compassionate selves. Slowing down allows us to savour all of life.
So why not try slowing down? Leave more time to get to work, lower your bar for your Saturday to-do-list. Give yourself time to notice what’s around you.