This summer we moved to the country. I drive my children to school past a scenic reservoir as we count the horses speckled along the rolling hills. It’s so beautiful that I take the long way to get there.
I take the long way every.darn.day.
In my former life, the idea of taking the long way to get anywhere caused tension to immediately unfurl throughout my body. I was chronically in a hurry. I walked fast, talked fast, ate fast–I did everything as fast as possible.
Because who takes the long way? Who goes slow on purpose?
Almost four years ago I was blessed with a little boy who loves slow. He likes to be pushed slowly in the swing. He likes to ride his bike slowly. He likes big, warm, slow hugs.
He’s an observer by nature and sees the world through a clearer lens than his parents. That’s because he was born to a mother who raced through life and a father who loved all-things-fast.
He hasn’t quite reached the age yet where he has been heckled for this love of slow–but I know that day isn’t far off. I imagine it to go down something like this: He’s on the playground enjoying a nice thoughtful, slow swing when some little Bulldozer comes up and announces, “Slow sucks”.
Because that’s what the world tells us.
- Faster is better
- Life should be lived in high gear
- A life well-lived means checking off as any boxes as possible
- Slow sucks.
What would I really like to tell that little Bulldozer?
This “fast living” comes with a price. When you live life in high gear (you know, checking off boxes like a boss) you are likely compromising your well-being, relationships, and quality of life. These are the five reasons to get off the fast-track and start taking life in the slow lane.
1. Missed Connections
When we run through life it takes a toll on our relationships. This year when I was moving fast, I forgot my dad’s birthday. My kids grew up more than I expected. My husband and I spent too many hours on the sofa engaged in parallel play on our iPhones.
When we slow down the pace of our days, we have more time to make eye contact and really see, be present, and connect with our people. After all, we love and value these connections above all else. They are deserving of our time and attention.
2. The Epidemic of Stress
We know that stress is an epidemic. Millions of prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications are prescribed each year. More Americans are diving into stress-relief methods like mindfulness and meditation than ever before. But here’s a novel thought: What if we treated the root cause of the problem rather than the symptom of it?
What if we stopped trying to do it all and actually reduced our stress, rather than just trying to fight the side effects of it?
We know that our children are being raised in our reflections. The way of life that we model for them becomes their default. Stress is contagious. Stressed out parents raise stressed out kids. So if you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your kids.
3. Compromise of Physical Health
The fast track to life is also the fast track to mental illness, autoimmune disease, and a slew of physical ailments too long to list. Stress and overwhelm have real, physical side effects that will make our lives shorter and less enjoyable.
If we want to live long, happy lives we must honor and care for our bodies. Have you been too busy to exercise recently? I have. When we step off the fast track, we can focus on maintaining our health from head to toe.
4. Missing the View
Don’t we wish we could slow down time? When we rush around we miss so much. We blink and our children have turned into adults. The world quite literally passes us by.
I often wonder if I didn’t have children to count the horses on the countryside, would I notice them at all? I want to get in habit of participating and noticing the beauty in my life, not just living in fly-by mode.
5. Feelings of Inadequacy
If I had to list only one thing I want for my children in life it would be this: I want them to love themselves. I want them to know that they are enough.
This message is to all of you out there who are trying to “do it all” and “be it all”. Or perhaps those of you who are trying to raise your kids “to do it all” and “be it all”. It won’t ever be enough. You’ll never have enough money. You’ll never be skinny enough. You’ll never be smart enough. You’ll never be fast enough. You’ll always be chasing ideals that are just out of reach.
What if we are enough just the way we are? What if we taught our kids that we are here today, living our best life as our best selves and that is more than enough.
We are present and that’s better than perfect.
I am going to be the first to tell my son that slow doesn’t suck.
You know what sucks? Taking the highway and missing the view of the countryside. Racing out the door and forgetting to catch the kisses your kids are blowing at you. Blowing through life so fast that you fall off that swing and break your arm.
Life is short, I want to soak it all in. Can we please take it slow?