As Ferris Bueller summed it up in the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” While most of us aren’t likely to call in sick and end up front and centre in a parade, there is still plenty to learn from Ferris.
We tend to become so busy that we don’t take moments to relish our friends, families, hobbies, and other things that make us happy. Instead we usually dash from one thing to another. Here are ways you can slow down a bit and enrich your life.
Think back to your childhood or perhaps the childhood experiences in your favourite Christmas movies. Instead of gathering in front of separate computer games, people used to gather together to watch television as a family, share a meal together, or pursue other activities. Give your kids a taste of a simpler time. Small children, in particular, can have more fun with traditional toys (or the box) than they do fancy electronics. Provide children with new best friends by giving them baby soft toys like a cuddly bear or adorable puppy. If going without electronics is too much, you can compromise by giving them cute plush animals that also include electronics so they can get the best of both worlds.
Dig out the board games or lawn bowling to reconnect the spirit of the past while you build your bond with the people in your present. You could spend a night playing games with your family or round up your friends and catch up during game night. Unlike most online or computer games, board and card games can provide enough competition and excitement to be interesting without losing the chance to combine the game with chitchat. Purchase games that you remember loving as a kid or seek out new ones to try. You can even ask your friends to bring all their favourite games so you have a chance to discover different ones you enjoy.
Our weekdays often consist only of work, perhaps a trip to the gym, and then an evening in front of the television. Pick a night to do something special, rather than waiting for the weekend. Make Thursday night a family game night or get together with friends to watch a favourite television show together. You could get tickets to attend the local theatre or even just try taking different routes home from work or around your neighbourhood. That could help you relax from your busy day while you have a chance to discover something new.
In addition to trying new routes home after work, be sure to try to break out of a rut for the rest of the day. If you bring your lunch, try taking it to a nearby park to combine people watching and a few moments of nature. Instead of the same gym routine, sign up for a new class or join an amateur sports team.
Remember, it isn’t about becoming busier, it’s about taking moments to enjoy life. If your daily schedule is already packed, it could be time to reduce your activities. Instead of nightly workout classes, it could be time to switch to casual walks a few days per week or jog with a friend instead of spending lonely hours on a treadmill.
If your weekends have become so packed with errands, it could be time to rethink your strategy. You might think that shopping you put off until Saturday will only take a few minutes and then you’ll have the rest of the day free. Instead, that one errand probably leads to more and, before you know it, you’ve spent the bulk of your weekend running around doing things you don’t enjoy. You end up accumulating a closet full of freshly dry-cleaned clothing rather than interesting memories.
Create a strategy to complete errands in the week. Taking a night or two or lunch hours to finish the errands could leave you with your weekends free for adventure. Make sure you put those weekends to good use. You don’t need to overschedule your weekends but you should avoid taking them for granted. If your pattern is to spend your free weekends in front of the television or cleaning your laundry, you’ll probably need to plan ahead. Check schedules for fun, upcoming weekend events or make a deal with yourself that this will be the week you make time for one or two of your favourite hobbies.
Your workplace could be an untapped place for slowing down. You might be as busy at work as usual but there could be ways to slow down the madness. If you work through your lunch every day, it could be time to break that habit. Getting away from the office for a few minutes could help to clear your mind so you can be more effective at work when you get back. Invite a co-worker to join you as you make your escape during lunch. You might find a friend or deepen an existing friendship. Building stronger relationships at work can be good for your career as well as for your mental health. If lunches don’t work, perhaps you and your co-workers can gather together after work periodically.
Many of us have been trapped in patterns of always expecting ourselves to study more, work more, and exercise more. Achieving these types of goals can become the focus of our lives rather than a means to the end. Because society puts emphasis on this type of effort, we can find ourselves feeling that doing something “frivolous” is a waste of time. Look at how often someone’s creative efforts are derided. Rather than appreciating their creativity, comments to them may take on a tone of “you must have a lot of time on your hands” as if doing something creative is a waste of time. We might even think of creativity is something reserved for only certain people or is only appropriate for children.
When you think about it, however, you’ll realise how important creativity is to humans. From the early days of cave dwellers drawing on walls, humans have enjoyed having outlets to express themselves. That doesn’t mean you need to become a fine artist. People express creativity in different ways. For you it could be in your mastery of outdoor grilling or collecting sports memorabilia. You might like experimenting with recipes, playing guitar, making cute memes, gardening, or compiling songs into the perfect collection for your workouts. Regardless of what makes you happy, find ways to allow your creativity to shine.
Some people take well to living a slower life. For others, trying to live slowly on their own means either grinding to a stop or quickly rushing back to their usual frenzied pace. One solution is to find others who share your interests and appreciation for peaceful moments. Find fellow readers to form a book club, volunteer for a group that makes you feel useful, or check online to make connections with others. You might share a love of Pusheen, home brewing, or travel but simply finding these connections will make it easier for you to embrace your interests a more fully.
Taking it slow doesn’t mean parking yourself in front of the television. Keep in mind that the best option might not be to cut back on activities. You don’t want to overschedule yourself but, at the same time, you don’t want your life to become too limited. Find a balance between living a full life and trying to do too much at once.
Walking through the park or hiking in the woods is a great way to reduce your stress while you take time to appreciate the world around you. Stop to watch a butterfly, take a few pictures of flowers, or take a few extra breaths to appreciate the fresh, clean air. Perhaps you can redirect your daily commute to include a walk within nature. Otherwise, you might want need to make a point of adding some nature time in your garden or elsewhere to your evenings or weekends.
Make room in your life for small pleasures. If you love teddy bears, why not add a few more with your life or put the ones you have on display rather than leaving them tucked away? Keep things around you that make you happy and position them so you can see them during your day. You can pay tribute to your interests with a calendar of your favourite kind of dog or make your travel pictures the screen saver on your computer. Then remember to periodically take a moment to appreciate them.
Remember, you can enrich your life by living it a bit more slowly so that you can appreciate each moment. Create the special moments you will look back on later in life and that will keep you focused and happier now.