Monday, November 21, 2011

Speed of Life

Refine your perception filter.
Slow the speed of life.
Reframe your daily experiences. 

These are the 3 things advocated by the writer of today's AoM blog.  
He claims the third one is the biggest problem for men today, but I think the second is.  At any rate, I'd like to explore that idea a little bit.  

Under the heading 'The deceleration of the speed of life', the writer says the following:

In a modern world, your life is allowed to move at whichever speed you choose for it. And the predominant setting for most men is “fast,” so you’re likely to default there without consciously deciding on it.  But once you’ve adjusted your perception filter to take in more of life, fast becomes incompatible with your new settings. Fast results in information overload and makes it nearly impossible to choose and analyze the most important micro life events that will allow you to make the progress you want.

When you drive through a city, how much detail do you notice? If you were to travel back through on a bicycle, what might you see then? And if you took the whole day and simply walked across it, what kind of relationship would you build with that place that would have been impossible from a car?

The goal now is to place the emphasis of your actions on “effective” over “efficient.” You must give yourself the opportunity to see the right pieces of life to be worked on. When you move slowly, this is easy to do. But if you move too quickly, it’s very difficult because the temptation to “just get things done” becomes more and more pervasive.

In practical terms, this may mean removing yourself from regular social habits and replacing them with solitude where you can reflect on your day. Or it might mean refusing an extra task at work so that you can give your full attention to the project that’s most important to your success.

When life slows down, improvement speeds up.

 The writer seems to be focusing on work tasks but I think this concept applies in all areas of life.  I definitely see the pace of life as being one of the most detrimental factors in a person's life these days.  We all experience it.  We're too busy.  And the things we're too busy for are usually the important things.  Time with our spouse, time with each of our kids, time with God and His Word, time for exercise, time to help someone out that needs a hand, time to rest, time to think, and on and on.  We let our pace of life control us instead of the reverse.  How many times have you heard someone say 'I know I need to do 'X', but....(insert flimsy excuse) and you think - but can't you see that 'X' is more important than most of what you DO spend your time doing?
Maybe we don't say that out loud because we know we're doing it too. 

Solitude is one of the spiritual disciplines.  One of the best and easiest to read books I've seen on spiritual disciplines is The Life You Always Wanted by John Ortberg.  In  there, he talks about the importance of Solitude.  Solitude is necessary, but it's a lost art/science these days.  It's unheard of.  And if you  took a day, or a weekend, to periodically achieve it - people would wonder what in the world is wrong with you.  So we keep up the relentless pace.  Another book related to this topic is Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson.  I haven't read this book, but I fully agree with his view that there is not only a lack of margins in our lives, but we are many times overextended beyond our limits.  

Do you find time to slow down and meditate/contemplate/rejuvenate on any kind of regular basis?  Are you paying a daily price for not doing it?

Related:  Time Matrix


  1. I've definitely been working on this one: "this may mean removing yourself from regular social habits and replacing them with solitude where you can reflect on your day." I used to do something almost every night of the week and not spend much down time at home. These days, I will have entire weeks that go by where I have been at home every evening and have had ample time to not only stay caught up on household tasks but have had plenty of reflection time as well. It needs to be a priority and I have had to learn to say "no" to many things like only playing volleyball every other week and hanging out with my girlfriends one night every other week or every two weeks instead of weekly. It has taken some time to get used to but it has made a tremendous impact on my happiness and well-being :) Also the time spent with friends or doing activities outside the home has been more special too and less of the routine it was becoming. Relationships are improving as well. It's been a very good thing.

  2. That's encouraging to hear Sarah.

  3. Life in the fast lane! There is so much here to unpack - the tyranny of the urgent, the fact that we fill our lives with so many useless things and then don't have time for what matters (and say "I just don't have time to spend on such and such important thing...), etc.

    As you know Rob, I love to read and when I graduated from college, I pushed myself hard to read an average of one book a week and it was pretty easy because I got to pick the information I wanted to read! And I actually picked up a book called - In Praise of Slowness - by Carl Honore - really interesting book! It talked about how back in the olden days of sun dials when the fastest mode of travel was a horse (and you had to be rich to do that) life was a lot slower paced. And then some guy thought it'd be a good idea to come up with hours and minutes and then seconds and clocks and watches and day planners and this idea that time is ticking and we have to fill it up with as much stuff as we can came through all that (the complete opposite of the realization that our time is short and so we should be mindful of how we spend it, chew on that :).

    But I think this idea of busy-ness coupled closely with learning to evaluate the things we do and say no to a lot of them, if we could allow ourselves to hand these areas over to God our lives and families and relationships would be so much richer, and we wouldn't need half as much money as we think we do and we'd have twice as much time to do the things we truly enjoy and that truly matter in life!

    As a final thought, I've noticed a lot in my own life and in talking with others, that a lot of times we seek to fill our lives with busy-ness to feel like we're accomplishing something or doing what we're supposed to or we think "God doesn't want us to be lazy" so we just run around like chickens with our heads cut off just trying to stay busy or be productive - but what are we really accomplishing when we do that?

  4. I should have the Eagles playing in the background when people log on to this post Micah. (If I knew how) I actually did try to have Hey You by Pink Floyd playing when logging on to the site. Never did get that worked out. Probably just as well.

    Anyway, a hearty amen to what you said. Yes, there are many causes: pride - I'm important because I'm so busy, or people will think I'm lazy if I don't do everything I'm asked, poor management and prioritization, the endless options before us, particularly in this age of technology and entertainment. BTW, the root of amusement is amuse, which means the opposite of muse, and muse means to learn or think, chew on that :) And true, our relationships, the most important aspect of all in life, are usually what suffers.