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  • Writer's picturePat Birnie

Do you need this? 5 ways to slow our world down.

Progress is good, right? It is inevitable so why fight it? I pride myself on being progressive and have always done my best to keep up with technology as part of Pro-Aging. Recently though, I had the feeling of wanting the world to slow down. Maybe it's age-related but lately I've been feeling a deep desire to return to simpler times.

Perhaps it's the same for all generations, but holy smokes have things changed in the last 60 years. It truly is incredible when you look back - the advent of answering machines really changed our lives. You could record your outgoing message AND find out who called while you were out - wow! Oh, and we could make fun of how our parents used the answering machines. My son had recorded our outgoing message, and when my elderly mother called she always start her message with - "Hi Brandon", as if she was talking directly to him -- awww I miss her. (are my kids making fun of me for something newer right now? Probably). Compared to today when we are all instantly available, that seems almost archaic! Remember when VCR's first allowed us to record a show and watch it later? We had already gone from having 3 or 4 channels to thousands. Let's get real, the channel we watched as a kid was the one that had the hockey game on -- because you know "dad bought the gd tv and we'd watch what he wanted to watch!" Our house had one phone and one bathroom for 7 people. Now everyone is instantly available, no one leaves the house without their phone and my house has 4 bathrooms for 2 of us (tbh it was 4 bathrooms for 5 people when we bought the house but still...).

Do you remember how long it took to dial 7 numbers? We were a lot more patient in those days

There are many positives to progress and new knowledge. Medical care for example - having laparoscopic surgery versus a large incision for something as simple as an appendectomy is amazing and speeds up recovery time significantly. How about face time/video calls? When our friends or loved ones live far away is it not wonderful to be able to see their face and talk to them for FREE??!! I remember when my dad had to consider the cost of a long distance phone call to speak to his mother who lived less than 100 miles away.

It is amazing to have information so readily available -- wondering about the origin of spaghetti? Google it! Where can I find the best price for butter this week? There's an app for that. Having so much info at out fingertips is convenient, but the downside is that there is so much information coming at us we are overwhelmed and often find it difficult to focus on one thing. At the risk of sounding like "old grandma Pat" I worry about the long term effects of constant exposure to tech on our kids. Looking back though, it would have been nice to hand over my phone to keep kids occupied while standing in a long line at the bank to get cash. Wait - there were 4 of them; it would have just resulted in fighting over the phone! And don't even talk to me about long car rides in the 90's.

I believe the question is 'what can we do to soothe our overwhelmed souls and brains when we are feeling overwhelmed?". We cannot literally slow down the pace of the world, all we can do is slow ourselves down by taking little mini breaks throughout the day. We need to be intentional about it. Here are a few ideas that work for me:

1. Take some time daily to focus on what's really important in life. Last year I did a month of appreciating the simple beauty around us. I kept on track by looking for simple beauty & taking a pic. Tree trunks, a random wildflower or beautiful clouds. Doing this helps you be present while walking or exploring.

2. Put the phone down. Yes this will make #1 difficult if you want photo evidence, but try keeping it away from the dinner table. I went for an appointment recently and decided to leave my phone and book behind. It was CRAZY how difficult it was for me to sit, breathe and think while I waited, but if definitely felt good to be under stimulated.

3. Focus on the people in front of you. This is a valuable thing to do while we are out and about. Engage with the cashier or other employee at the store and ask how their day has been. You may be surprised at just how shocked they are to be noticed. Service people can be truly taken for granted. I get a little annoyed when I see a customer chatting away on the phone while ignoring the grocery employee checking out their huge order.

4. De-cluttering can also be so soothing. Too much stuff around us can contribute to overwhelm.

5. Enjoy a few moments of silence and deep breathing every single day. Hey - this is also an opportunity to take some of those healthful lung filling breaths we need!

If you can relate to any of this, here's your task for today (and every day):

Take a breath, look at the clouds , lay on your mat with your eyes closed and your mind empty...It's harder than you think but so worthwhile. Want inspiration? Check out this very cool article about how people around the world slow down.

Pat xo

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