Picture your typical weekday: from the moment your alarm goes off, blaring annoyingly, until the last time you check your emails before lights out, it's full speed ahead. Most of us rush through the week, struggling to fit as much into our 24 hours as we possibly can, fast (sometimes healthy) food, fast fashion and a fast wi-fi connection as our loyal helpers. But is life in the fast lane a sign of success...or do we all need to slow down?
The tendency to aim for a "slower" lifestyle has taken hold in the past years, possibly as an indicator of a general desire to go deeper, to connect with ourselves and our world on a new level. In a society where our work stress levels soar (an American study found that 83% of survey participants were stressed at work) and we're hard-pressed to find time for the most basic things in life (a UK mental health study shows that 40% of Brits are too busy to have breakfast), is it time to streamline our lifestyles and adapt to a slower model? Slow life guru Carl Honoré thinks so.
The idea of his book In Praise of Slowness was conceived when Carl Honoré found himself reading bedtime stories to his children way too speedily, skipping entire pages, in a rush to get through. Deciding that it was definitely time to take things slower, he turned away from his journalistic background to a less speedy platform and wrote a book - one that became a manifest of a more mindful lifestyle, the Slow Movement. In the book, the author embarks on a quest to illustrate slow living around the world: from a SuperSlow exercise studio in New York to a meditation room for business executives in Tokyo, In Praise of Slowness and the Slow Movement is at the forefront of a new trend, hopefully paving the way for a more sustainable, healthy and pleasurable way of living.
But how can we apply the principles of the Slow Movement today? Fast-paced millennials pursue career and connections with a speed that's potentially harmful to health, but that also, to put it quite simply, can lower the quality of life. Businesses adopt speed-fuelled practices when in fact they could benefit from diving deeper into processes and connections. Superstars such as Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rupert Murdoch all practice mindfulness - the art of being present in the moment. Research from INSEAD Business School found that just 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation can lead to more rational, clear-headed thinking in business decisions.
Mindfulness is at the heart of a life view that incorporates slow food, slow travel and a deeper look into the things we buy, use and choose. Carl talks about "the right time" - dedicating the correct time and speed to things, being present in whatever it is that we're doing at the moment: working extra when it's needed is fine, but staying late just for the sake of it is unnecessary and takes time away from a precious work-life balance. Learn the art of saying no, don't look at emails after 10pm and eat at the table with your family or friends, and not in front of the TV or laptop.
On a planet-wide perspective, being selective about what we buy, eat and use, as well as researching our choice of products, will contribute to a healthier planet. Be a slow consumer. By pursuing quality, choosing to savour the moment and putting the brakes on our ever-connected, super-speedy lives, we may just be saving the world and of course us!