Joy Journey Day 5: Slow Down

James 1

19 wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.

“Sometimes we feel that the busier we are, the more important we are—as though our busyness defines our worth. We can spend a lifetime whirling about at a feverish pace, checking off list after list of things that in the end really don’t matter.
That we do a lot may not be so important. That we focus the energy of our minds, our hearts, and our souls on those things of eternal significance—that is essential.” – Joseph Wirthlin

This quote is exactly the reason we need to stop being so busy, slow down and be intentional about the way we spend our time and energy.  We live in a fast paced, instant gratification, constantly connected society.  This leads to distraction, competition, comparison, stress, and burnout.  These things can be a danger to us in all areas of our lives, mental, emotional, spiritual and even physical.

How do you know if you are running too fast and burning yourself out?  Here are some questions to ask yourself… Are you constantly late? Are you always losing things? Are you forgetting appointments?  Are you unable to remember how you got from point A to point B?  Are you repeatedly getting sick?  Do you have no time to eat?  Are you not getting enough sleep?  Are you always multi-tasking?  If one or more of these apply to you, you may want to consider slowing down.

Slowing down will not be easy and it will take intentional thought and planning.  Here are a few suggestions I found for slowing down…

*Disconnect: A huge part of our problem comes from being constantly connected to technology.  We don’t give ourselves time to ponder, process, or just to relax.  We even use technology to replace the human need for face to face connection with others.  Physically our bodies need rest. Mentally our brains need time to decompress. Emotionally we need face to face connection with other people.  Spiritually we need a space of silence to reconnect with ourselves and with our God.

* Simplify:  Decluttering our lives does wonders for our emotional and mental state.  Get rid of a few things that you don’t need and spend some time organizing your space.  This will allow you to slow down and think more clearly.  We also need to simplify our task lists.  We need to DO LESS!  If we take some time to sort through the things we have on our to do lists and sift out the unnecessary busy work we assign ourselves, we will feel more peace and joy.  We really need to determine what things are necessary and what things we feel obligated to do.  There is a difference.

*Be Present:  This is another area where we really need to put our phones away and connect with ourselves, life, and others.  We need to be present in body.  We can even find joy in the tasks that we normally resent if we can be present when we do them, appreciate the fact that our bodies work so well, appreciate that the reason we have to clean is because we have been so blessed with food to eat and clothes to wear and a roof over our heads.  We can appreciate the sensation of warm water when we do dishes, or the sound of dirt being sucked up into the vacuum cleaner.  We can appreciate the shine of a clean window or mirror and the scent of clean clothes.  Are we really appreciating our miraculous bodies or the gift of our senses that God gave us? Sometimes when I am with another person I notice that my body is there but not my mind.  Why do I allow this stupid little rectangle I carry around to distract me from fully enjoying the company of another human being.  There are so many lonely people in the world.  I am starting to notice that sometimes because of my distraction, I am the cause of my own loneliness.

*Appreciate Nature:  God has given us the most beautiful planet.  He could have sent us to a perfectly smooth glass ball to live our lives and be tested in this sphere.  But He didn’t.  He gave us mountains, trees, sunsets, butterflies, flowers, birds, oceans, rivers and so many different animals to admire and appreciate.  How often do we take the time to appreciate what He has given us, to put down the phone, turn the TV off and really use our senses to connect with the beauty around us?

*Breathe: I did not realize how pivotal this action, perhaps most taken for granted, is to our health.  Well, obviously I know we need to breathe to live.  But I didn’t understand what things we allow to get in the way of breathing properly.  Our brain needs 20 percent of the oxygen we breathe and gets it from 20 percent of the blood that flows through us.  So when we are stressed, or have over eaten, or aren’t getting enough exercise or sleep and we are not breathing deeply enough, our brains are not getting the oxygen they need to do their best work.  Is it any wonder that I feel like I’m not thinking clearly or functioning well?

*Eat Slower: This is another thing that came as a surprise for me.  We eat a lot of garbage and we eat it fast.  Did you know it takes your brain 20 minutes to register that you are full?  So when we are shoveling our food in as quick as we can we tend to overeat because our brain can’t compute fast enough to tell us we have overdone it.  Maybe try putting your fork down between bites.  Enjoy what’s in your mouth, the flavor, the texture, the seasoning. Then after you have swallowed pick up your fork to add another bite.  If we eat slower we will even breathe better!

*Drive Slower:  We are all in a hurry and because of this our roadways are one of the biggest dangers in our daily lives.  Slow down!  When you are not in a hurry you are more aware of what is happening around you. You are less annoyed when you aren’t in a rush to get somewhere. A drive can actually be an enjoyable time, disconnected.  It can be a time to connect with good music, visit with other human beings in your car, or a time of pondering and prayer.  I love to turn my radio off when I drive and talk to my God.  I have had some of the best prayers, most profound answers, and amazing ideas come to me while I drive without any background noise.

*Stop Multi-tasking: We think that we are getting many things done faster, but really we are just not doing any of them well.  If we choose to focus on one thing at a time and give it our best effort I think we will find that we actually work more quickly with better results.  Try it.

*Intentional Social Media: I am not at all implying that we should never be connected.  There are some amazing tools on that same little rectangle that can be a distraction!  When used with purpose it is a very good servant.  But when we are careless it tends to be a heavy task master.  I suggest planning out your social media time.  What are you getting on to do?  How long do you plan to spend?  If you do searches rather than just scrolling you will probably feel energized when you get off rather than like you are coming out of the Narnia wardrobe.  Join groups and follow pages that make you feel uplifted and inspired.  Use the tools to select which friends you want to see first.  Then Facebook will be a light to your day rather than a drain on it.  Share positive thoughts yourself so that you are adding to the positivity that can be found there.

*Create a Daily Space of Silence: One of the best ways to slow down is to disconnect to the world and connect to your Divine source of power.  Take some time to decompress as you read the word of God, listen to some uplifting Christian music, and talk to the One who knows every detail of your life and wants to help you, but will never impose.  Then give Him a little silence to give you some feedback.  It is amazing to me how much He wants to help with every aspect of our lives if we will just give Him a little space to do that.  But we really do need to turn a few things down and a few things off so that we can tune in to hear that still small voice.

If we want to add more joy to our lives, slowing down is a very good place to start.  When we slow down we are rewarded with clarity of vision and renewal of focus.  We allow our brains to rest and recharge which in turn allows us to be more creative and better tuned into recognize new ideas and inspiration.  Slowing down allows us to disconnect from the world and our busyness and reconnect with the things and people that matter most. It allows us to be better able to organize our time and sift out the things that really aren’t necessary.  When we slow down we will be more intentional in our actions and choose things that fill us with increased gratitude and joy.

Song: Slow Down by Danny Gokey

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