How to Live Slowly and Joyfully
“Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” –Dallas Willard
Why are we in such a hurry? Why do we rush and rush until life is no fun? I would consider myself a recovering hurrier. A great deal of my life I have spent rushing around, racing the clock trying to get stuff done. Not only was my physical body in a hurry, my mind was always racing. I am now practicing a slow lifestyle, what I call the 4S lifestyle that consists of slowing down, silence, solitude and simplicity.
I recently took a trip to Florida to visit my son and spent some time driving on the interstate. I think it took a few years off of my life. I saw one horrific accident. I could feel the tension on the roads with the fast paced mentality of having to get somewhere fast. Where is everyone going in such a hurry?
What if we all ruthlessly eliminated hurry from our life as Dallas Willard says? I bet we would all be a lot happier and healthier.
When we are rushing around all of the time, we are missing the pure joy of being in the present moment. This is a work in progress for me. My practice consists of simply slowing down and being present to whatever I am doing.
When I am driving, just drive. When I am riding my bike, just ride my bike. When I am eating, just eat. One of the simplest and best things we can do for weight loss and our digestion is to slow down when we eat. Eat mindfully. Don’t multi-task. Eat and appreciate the nourishment that the food is providing for our bodies.
I was watching a golf tournament on TV the other day and yes I love to watch golf, don’t judge me. The player that won the tournament did everything slowly with intention. He ended up being in an eight hole playoff and his demeanor and pace never changed. He was calm, cool and collected the entire time. He moved slowly and gracefully. It was a beautiful lesson in slowing down. I don’t know if his mind was racing, but I am guessing he had that under control as well.
How can we practice slowing down and smelling the roses? I believe it starts with creating space in our lives. Learning how to say no to things that aren’t important. I have learned how to say no without feeling I have to explain my no. If it isn’t a hell yes, than it’s a hell no.
At this point in my life I have an understanding of the amount of down time I need to be fully energized. As an introvert, I need quite a bit of alone time and I don’t have to apologize for that. I am simply being me.
When we stop overscheduling ourselves we can get our life back. We have to be intentional about this or it won’t happen. One practical thing I suggest is to write down your ideal schedule and take small steps to live out that schedule in your life.
Do your best to create margin and space into your schedule so you can take time to breathe and not feel rushed all of the time. My guess is that you will be a lot more productive and happier in the long run. As Thich Naht Hahn says,
“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”
Creating a time for silence can be life changing. I used to fill up every spare moment with music or by listening to a podcast. There is a time and a place for that, but when we always have something in our ear, we don’t have the capacity to listen to the inner voice that is within us. It’s harder to listen for and hear prompts from God.
I am practicing detaching from my phone more often. I used to take my phone on walks, but I would find myself subconsciously reaching for my phone. It’s pretty amazing and scary how habitual that is. Silence is a beautiful thing. Not only external silence, but internal silence.
I used to think of silence as eliminating external noise, but I now recognize it is as much about doing our best to eliminate internal noise. I have always struggled with obsessive thoughts and ruminating over things. I would replay scenarios both in my past and my made up future. My mind would spin relentlessly from morning to night and often times in the middle of the night. There was no silence. It was exhausting.
My practice now is twenty to sixty minutes of meditation twice a day to create more inner silence. We are always going to have thoughts, the key is to not get caught up in those thoughts and obsess and ruminate over them. To simply acknowledge the thought that pops up and then let it go. I then come back to my breath or a specific word such as surrender, let go or peace.
Inner silence is a beautiful thing. Just like any other acquired skill in our lives, it takes hours and hours of practice. We don’t have to do sitting meditation to practice it, we can practice being aware of our thoughts every moment that we are awake. When you catch your mind being caught up in the past or planning your future, simply bring yourself back to the present moment.
We all can benefit from a certain amount of solitude. Everyone is going to be different with the amount of alone time we need. The purpose of solitude isn’t to isolate ourselves from the world, it’s actually to be more connected. Time in solitude gives us an opportunity to be introspective and do our inner work. To heal from our wounds and understand ourselves better. By doing this we will become better humans and make our world a more joyful place.
I have carried many wounds and hurts in my life and quite honestly, I haven’t been a very happy person. My moments of joy were fleeting depending on external circumstances. The more time I spend in solitude, healing my wounds and understanding myself, the happier I am becoming.
That joy becomes contagious. Because of my time in solitude I am able to go out into the world and spread love as I am being healed. Without this deep inner work and time alone we won’t be able to show up in the world radically free to be our authentic souls. We will continue our old patterns of getting hurt and hurting others.
Practicing solitude can be as simple as spending the first fifteen minutes alone in the morning or it can be purposefully scheduling a long weekend alone. This can be a game changer for our mental health and well-being. It’s just like anything else in our lives, we have to be intentional about our time alone or it won’t happen. Take the time to get to know yourself and fall in love with the beautiful person you are without all of the noise and distractions of your daily life.
When did our lives get so complicated? From one of my favorite country bands growing up, Alabama.
I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why
All we gotta do is live and die. How simple is that? Just live life. It’s so easy to get consumed with materialism, social media, fame and fortune. I remember the simpler days before we were bombarded with advertising and gloom and doom from our media outlets all day long.
I am learning a simpler life is a better life. I am in the process of creating more freedom through minimalism. I know that may not be for everyone, but even getting rid of a few things that we have accumulated over the years can lighten our load mentally and physically.
When we declutter our living space it’s amazing how it somehow declutters our mind. It’s weird, but it’s almost like a high. Try cleaning out your closet and see what happens. I bet you will experience some freedom in your life. Clutter in our external world usually correlates to clutter in our internal world.
I am adopting a less is more mentality. I want freedom more than anything. I want time freedom and financial freedom. I am finding the simpler my life is the greater impact I can have through my writing, podcasting and spiritual warrior coaching.
As they say, do what you love and you will never have to work another day in your life. My life is far from perfect, but I am getting it more dialed in every day.
Simplicity and clarity about my life’s purpose has helped me to know exactly what I have been put here on earth to do. My singular focus is helping men get out of quiet desperation and start to live a life of divine inspiration.
We can do this by slowing down, creating a time for silence and solitude in our lives and simplicity. This is the 4S lifestyle. Our life will never be perfect, but it can be pretty damn amazing when we start to co-create with God the life we want to live.
We have our default life that will happen to us if we let it or we have our created life that makes us feel fully alive. Most of us live our default life. I propose that we start to live our created life.
It’s not easy and it will require us getting out of our comfort zone. I am living proof that when we take a chance on ourselves by seeing ourselves the way God sees us, taking a leap of faith pays off. I am choosing to create the life of my dreams rather than accept the status quo default life.
What about you? Are you ready to live the life of your dreams and get out of quiet desperation? You have it in you, I know it because we all do.
Remember this as you embark on your journey.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” –Lao Tzu
Spiritual Warrior Coach
Founder and Creator of Barbells & Brothers