It might be obvious for many, but it’s worth repeating, you need to take the time to think. Ideation, creativity, learning or simple reflection needs time.
We all know we live in crazy times. We live glued to our smartphones, dependent on the flows of information. Our schedule isn’t our own, it’s dictated by our inbox. The tyranny of technology.
Maybe, the worst part of our current dependency is the fact that we keep thinking we can keep up. Let me tell you a secret; you can’t. Technology is accelerating at a pace that’s, by far, surpassing our capacity to keep up with.
When we try to keep up, three undesired effects arise in our minds. The first one is the speeding up of our thought. While we think this is something good, it’s not.
When we speed up, we make mistakes. We don’t have enough time to analyze our environment, and we indulge in bad habits. Our aim is to do as much as we can in the time we have. We take no prisoners, we don’t care about others, there is no time!
Getting into overdrive mode also takes a mental toll. How many times do you feel mentally drained? Our brain can sustain some sprinting, but it will eventually overcompensate by shutting down. Those downturns can be devastating, draining all energy from our body.
Another effect is frustration. As hard as we try to keep up, eventually we realize we can’t do it all. And it’s frustrating. It shows us we are imperfect, fallible. That, stings and frustrates us. We want to think we are overreaching, and not achieving our goals doesn’t align well with our mental models. This creates what’s known as cognitive dissonance.
I’m late, I’m late for
A very important date.
No time to say hello, good-bye,
I’m late, I’m late, I’m late
― The White Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland
Last but not least, both the speeding up and the frustration robs us of the necessary time to reflect. Our mind isn’t a computer. It’s not a massive database. Our brain requires time to process. It’s what computer scientists call a general AI. This means it’s capable of applying learning from one domain to another and extrapolate into the abstract.
Such extrapolations are what we call “aha” moments. These connections only happen when we allow the brain to slow down and explore its inner thoughts. We experience vast amounts of information each day, but we rarely sort through them, much less consciously.
When we don’t take the time to review, sort and match our emotions with our experiences, we don’t learn. And learning is the cornerstone of happiness.
Taking the time to sit down, relax, unwind and look inwards is much needed. It allows us to shift through our consciousness, discard things, free up space and put some order and structure.
This process is not only beneficial for our brain, but it’s also for our body and more importantly, for us to learn new things. Wisdom emerges from slowing down, from introspection, from connecting with your inner self.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
The truth is, we don’t slow down not because we can’t, but because we don’t want to. We feel bad when we slow down. We feel weak; we feel we’re missing out on something. Worst of all, we think others will think less of us; we believe that they’ll flag us as lazy.
But we do have the power to slow down. To do less. To make a conscious decision of stopping. It just takes letting go of the dream that we can, in fact, catch up with technology. We can’t. Stop trying. The more you try, the worse it will get. And eventually, your mind will snap and break. Then you will be forced to stop. Reality has the nasty habit of catching up.
So look in the mirror and ask yourself. Am I going too fast? Pick a day, and make a habit of not doing much during a part of that day. Just walk, enjoy life and reflect. Think of your life, of those around you, of beautiful things. Be grateful. Say thank you.
“But, I don’t have time to do that!”
If you can’t let yourself slow down, prioritize life over the pipper’s dream, then you’re already far gone. Do less, take the time, and you’ll see how you can, in fact, do more.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where -’ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland