Can't You Just Slow Down?

It's already June. And – wow - isn't 2016 marching by?

Time. We just never seem to have enough of it.

Yes, it’s a well-known “fact” that life in the 21st century is faster than ever. And hold on, it’s gathering speed as I write!

To make matters worse, as the years go by, time just seems to get more and more scarce.

Really?

As we all know, time is pretty consistent.

Each day contains 24 hours, each week has seven days, etc …..

The days aren’t actually getting shorter. Most of us are living longer than our grandparents.

And, much as we like to believe it, certain people don’t have more time on their hands in any single moment than others.

Are we REALLY time starved?

So why do we feel so bereft of this valuable resource?

According to experts, there are several reasons why many of us (aside from those suffering from clinical conditions) have this perception that time is passing so quickly: 

  • …. when our attention is divided, for instance, and we’re busy with several things at once. This may be because we pay less attention to the flow of time when we are multi-tasking.
  • …. then as we age, our efficiency in multi-tasking lessens. This may also influence our subjective perception of time.
  • …. the emotional quality of an event also has an impact. Negative emotional states, such as feeling fearful, sad or depressed, have the effect of making time feel as if it’s passing more slowly. In contrast, fun and happy times seem to be over in a flash.
  • … “proportional theory”, suggests that as we age, our sense of “present” time begins to feel relatively short in comparison to our entire lifespan. So the older we get, the less time we think we have.
  • …. and there is the notion of the “reminiscence bump”; the most self-defining period of our lives of which the memories we hold are also extremely vivid. As we move further away from this critical period, our memories become less clear, shaping our sense of self across time.
  • …. And finally, there is the undeniable fact that the majority of us nowadays are living our lives like one giant pinball machine, where most of the game feels beyond our control. By the time our working week comes to an end, we can barely remember what happened on Monday.

SLOW IT DOWN

So can we slow down the ever-quickening pace of life? Perhaps.

Improving cognitive abilities, especially attention and memory, can help us fine-tune our internal pacemakers. And developing a mindfulness practice may help us to anchor our awareness in the here and now - the only point in our lives where we are actually in control.  It may even help to stave off certain mental health conditions such as dementia in later life.

Building our capacity to be truly present enables us to decide more consciously about how we spend our time or where we focus our energies. Rather than carrying on in auto-pilot, reacting to people and situations as we've always done, we can slow down, pause and re-consider whether a new type of response might be more beneficial.

As a witness to our own thoughts, emotions and behaviours in any given situation and in any given moment, we can savour it all. And we can have fun. We are the leaders in our own lives: it's up to us to take charge and decide how we want to experience it - and at what speed.

After all, do you really want to look back in twenty years' time and barely recall what happened?

Next time you find yourself speeding through your day like a runaway train ……. Stop, breathe and remember, you do get to choose.


Retreat Weekend, 23 - 26 June 2016

If any of the above has struck a chord with you and you find yourself in need of time away, R&R, plus space to give attention to some important questions in your life... join us this month for an amazing weekend of walking, talking, thinking and re-connecting..... find out more >>>