Here's Why Slowing Down Might Be The Key To Your Happiness

September 22, 2022

Life is busy and sometimes it can feel like there isn’t enough time to do the things that we love. Busy schedules can cause us to consistently rush through the week, trying to squeeze in everything in order to feel accomplished. But rushing through life can lead to burnout and unfulfilling experiences. Here’s why global attitudes seem to be shifting towards ‘slowing down,’ and how turning down the dial can inspire you to be happier in the long run.

holding on to a clock

The To-Do List

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the number of things you need to do? Work, eat, sleep, see friends, clean your house, buy a birthday present, and find time to exercise. Adulthood can sometimes feel like a never-ending to-do list, where you’re frantically ticking something off and then adding 10 more tasks on.

Recently I had an epiphany about why I enjoy holidays so much. Of course, I enjoy the experience of exploring somewhere new, the sun and the sand, but there’s another alluring factor to going away. It’s the one time when I can do whatever I want, without any obligations. But going on holiday doesn’t have to be the only time where life slows down, and in fact, consistently rushing through everything can leave you feeling quite unsatisfied.

Whilst the initial feeling of ‘productiveness’ can be addictive, snowballing through life can cause us to miss out on the very thing we were keen to do. Rushing through life can lead to burnout, feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list and unfulfilling experiences. If you’re constantly chasing after ‘the next thing,’ you’ll struggle to appreciate what you’re doing and where you are now.

Around Four Thousand Weeks

In Four Thousand Weeks, Oliver Burkeman explores our relationship with time, our obsession with lengthening our to-do lists, and how to make the most of our time on Earth. The title itself alludes to a human lifespan, which works out at roughly four thousand weeks. How do we spend this time and how do we make our lives feel meaningful? In his book, he questions our need to ‘do it all’, how our relationship with time has changed over the ages and explores how to create meaningful experiences that lead to a fulfilling life.

It’s not surprising that we feel like we need to complete everything all at once. In an age of social media and widespread news, everything that we haven’t achieved is often right in front of our faces. Whether it’s getting married, being offered a coveted job, buying a house or going on the trip of a lifetime, the ‘fear of missing out’ can cause us to feel like we need to slam our foot down on the accelerator, lest we miss out on an opportunity.

Shifting Global Perspectives

Yet, recent times seemed to have caused a shift in this attitude. When the world shut down due to a global pandemic in 2020, everyone was forced to slow down too. Working from home became the norm, and being restricted in what you could do meant that people spent more time with their loved ones or taking part in hobbies that they enjoyed. A study published by the University of Essex in the U.K. found that about a quarter of parents reported that their relationship with their children had become better since the government’s stay at home policy, while the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that time spent in leisure and sports activities increased by 32 minutes per day in 2020.

Almost three years on, some of these changes seem permanent. Working from home is still very common. And it’s not only a physical shift that seems to have occurred. Whilst ambition and working ‘harder than anyone else’ seemed to be popular pre-covid, now there is an ever-growing surge of people that want to slow down and enjoy life more.

A recent cultural phenomenon of ‘quiet quitting’ is the latest emerging trend of this viewpoint. Instead of working late, being early and over-performing, quiet quitting is where you do what is expected of you in your job and no more. Quiet quitting has been taking the Internet by storm over the past few weeks, with many questioning the ‘hustle’ culture and instead opting for a work/life balance that means they can slow down more and enjoy their time outside of their job.

Finding A Balance

There’s a fine balance between being busy and being constantly overwhelmed by a to-do list. If you find yourself rushing from one thing to the next all the time, or overworking at your job, it might be time to turn down the dial and think about what’s important to you. While achieving your goals is satisfying, you’re more likely going to remember the experience rather than the fact you did it. Working from home and quiet quitting are global testaments to the fact that the way we choose to spend our lives is changing, and that slowing down might the be key to leading a more satisfying life.

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Photo: Morgan Housel Via Unsplash

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Annabel Easton
Annabel is a writer, marketer and illustrator. She runs an environmental account on Instagram called @econotes.mag and spends her spare time rock climbing, reading and exploring.

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