Early in life I was lucky enough to learn something that most people never do, something that completely transformed the way I feel in my day-to-day. It started with two different experiences that taught me how the way we think about time is all wrong and that we really need to learn to relax and take it easy!
First, while in university, I had this incredibly fun and lively friend from the Dominican (girl you know who you are!) She was my favourite person to go out with because you just never knew what was going to happen. There was just one problem….
She’d tell me we were going out at 8pm but it would always end up being more like midnight. One night, tired of the hours of waiting, I asked her if I could get ready at her place. I thought I’d see what took four hours of work!
Turns out, it wasn’t at all what I thought.
Within an hour, different people slowly started to arrive at her dorm. At one point there were at least 12 people in that tiny room, all chatting and sharing drinks. Some knew each other. Others didn’t. Everyone was friendly. Everyone had plans that night. No one seemed to notice the time passing – not even me.
The night, as usual, was unforgettable but there was a special bonus to it this time. Because I wasn’t stressed about WHEN I had to be ready, I could enjoy the PROCESS of getting ready. It had been therapeutic to just relax and go slowly. It also took the pressure off the rest of the night; we had such a good time before we left the door that we didn’t need for the night out to be epic or special.
A few years later, I moved to Brazil. At this point in my life, I felt like I had adopted my friend's leisurely outlook to enjoying yourself. But I quickly realized that wasn't enough to prepare me for Brazil.
In Brazil, EVERYTHING is slower: eating out, saying hi, going to the beach, shopping, commuting, even paying rent! (Not kidding here, we had a monthly tradition put in place by our landlord where we would come for coffee at his office as he counted out our cash and told us stories of the good old times in Copacabana. It usually took an hour.)
This drove me CRAZY. I couldn’t understand why you had to walk so slow, say hi to everyone and eat for HOURS. I might have been half Brazilian but I had come from New York and that just wasn’t the way we did things!
After a few weeks of this frustration, something just “clicked” in the same way it had that special night out with my friend. I just started to act like everyone around me. I chatted to the coffee guy, walked along with the old couple and took 2 hour lunch breaks. As soon as I put aside my obsession with time and productivity, I could see just how enjoyable life is when you take it slower.
When you aren’t rushing, you notice more, you savour more and you remember more.
When I finally left Brazil, I took this slow down philosophy with me. Years later, I still make sure to take these things slow whenever I can: eating, drinking, walking and commuting. I know I’m less stressed because of it.
At the end of each day, the way you feel is a combination of everything you did and experienced. If you take the things you CAN control slower, and actually enjoy some of them, you will feel better no matter what follows.
We are taught that time is valuable but we aren’t taught how. Most of us go on believing that because it’s valuable we need to constantly be aware of it and pack as much as we possibly can into short bursts.
The truth is we don’t need to hoard time, we need to enjoy it. So what are YOU going to slow down?