A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Busy is Easy. Slowing Down is Hard.

Being busy is familiar. We have become comfortable with the chaos because it’s all we really know. Being busy moves you from one soccer game to the next dance recital with a dozen appointments and meetings in between. You never have to question what your days will hold because your schedule is already planned out months in advance. Being busy is easy.

Slowing down is hard. You would think slowing down would be easy, but we get so entrenched with chaos and living hectic lives that it actually feels wrong to slow down. If the internet goes out, we panic. If the car leaves us stranded at home, we call in reinforcements. If we are sick, instead of slowing down and resting we bring our work home and pop open our laptops.

Why is it so hard to slow down?

Slowing down makes us think. In the rare moments that we slow down long enough to hear ourselves think, our thoughts can be overwhelming. Mental to-do lists come flooding in:

  • I need to pick up dog food, we’re almost out.
  • I forgot to call the vet back and reschedule that appointment.
  • Oh, that light bulb is still out over the mirror.
  • I think we’re out of light bulbs. I should get some next time I go shopping.
  • If I’m going to go shopping I should pick up some groceries.
  • I wonder what I should fix for dinner tonight.
  • I should really go exercise. I need to lose some weight.

. . . and the list goes on and on.

Slowing down feels unproductive. We become so accustomed to being busy all the time that we’ve associated being busy with being productive. Being on every committee around makes us feel like we’re being productive for the community. Having our kids in multiple sports and activities makes us feel like we’re being productive parents. Consequently, when we are less busy we feel less productive.

Slowing down opens our eyes. A walk down a country road looks drastically different than seeing it flash by us from behind a car window. When we slow down it is harder to ignore the life we see around us. The hard truth is that when we take a closer look at ourselves, we may not like what we see. If you examine your life and are totally content, then consider yourself extremely blessed. But if the opposite is true for you, what do you do then? Sometimes we let ourselves stay busy enough that we don’t have to deal with the difficult questions.

Why is being busy a bad thing?

Being busy causes stress on your body. If you don’t take the time to make changes to lessen that stress, you could experience the following physical conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Skin conditions
  • Sleep problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Obesity
  • Memory impairment
  • Depression

Wouldn’t you rather slow down now by eliminating some excess busyness in your life than waiting until something happens that is much harder to deal with?

Being busy causes you to miss out on relationships. When you spend your time on countless activities, you are missing out on the time you could be building relationship. You are missing out on:

So how do you slow down?

Granted some things are unavoidable. You can’t avoid those dentist appointments unless you want to suffer the consequences. But I challenge you to look out for the obvious and the not-so-obvious time stealers that prevent you from slowing down.

Slowing down is really pretty simple. . .just stop doing so much. No big secret there. Sit down with your calendar and put forth some real effort to Do Less! If you don’t have any days with nothing scheduled then you are doing too much.

Don’t be afraid. Your life won’t suffer from slowing down.

  • You won’t die if you exercise at home instead of driving to the gym.
  • Your child’s chances at a major league contract won’t suffer if he’s not in T-ball.
  • Skipping the six dozen birthday parties at school won’t emotionally scar a child for life.
  • It is actually possible to paint your own fingernails or wash your own car instead of taking the time to have someone do it for you.

Slowing down is hard, but don’t give up. It will feel strange when you start to do less, but give yourself time and you’ll never look back.

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photo by CanadianSc

Article originally published on 01/26/2011

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