Life is short. Don’t run so fast you miss it. — Blue Zone Centenarian
Welcome to La Vie en Bleu a series where I share what Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones, reveals as powerful and simple lessons that can help put anyone on the path to a healthier and happier life. We continue with the sixth of nine lessons from the Blue Zones, five unique communities that have common elements of diet, lifestyle and outlook on life that have led to not only an amazing number of years lived, but also a better quality of life.
Lesson Six: Slow Down
Although their bodies naturally slow down due to age, centenarians are wise enough to know the importance of slowing down and appreciating life’s most precious moments that can often pass by much too quickly.
To be honest, I find this lesson the hardest for me to put into practice. I love to multi-task. It’s like as if it’s part of my DNA. At any given moment I can easily be working on multiple projects at the same time—especially those that need to be completed within a limited timeframe. It both energizes me and exhausts me. I like to think I’m being super-efficient, and oftentimes I am, but it often comes with a price. I’m usually rushing from one activity, project, appointment, etc. to another and honestly, I don’t always take time to “smell the roses”.
Fortunately, my son helps me put things into perspective. Each day I marvel at how he grows, changes and explores his new world. My husband and I think it’s so lovely how, at 15 months old, he always wants to be around us, even while he plays independently. However, we’re well aware that at 15 years old (which I’m told will come before I know it), he likely will not feel the same way. Watching him grow reminds me of the importance of slowing down, so not to miss all the precious moments life has to offer. He helps me to realize that the rushing and urgency I often give so many things in my life are really not so important.
I’ve heard that people who make it to 100 years old often seem to exude a sense of sublime serenity. They are aware of the importance of improving their lives through simplification and not only wise enough to know how to take it easy, but also have a keen understanding of limitations of the body. Whether I live to be 100 or not, I hope to start learning how better to slow down and develop a more refined and serene attentiveness to the people and things that are most important in my life. How about you?
Tips and strategies to find a quiet space and slow down.
Minimize the noise
Reduce time spent with T.V., radio and the Internet. It can lessen the amount of aural clutter in your life. Most electronic entertainment just feeds mind chatter and works counter to the notion of slowing down.
Plan to arrive 15 minutes early to every appointment. This one practice minimizes the stress that arises from traffic, getting lost or underestimating travel time. It allows you time to slow down and focus before a meeting or event.
Practice yoga | meditation
Create a quiet space at home that is not too hot, to cold, too dark or too light. Make it a comfortable space. Establish a regular time to meditate and/or practice yoga everyday, no matter what—but don’t stress out on the days you cannot!
Finding time for our spiritual side can create the space to slow down. Practices like meditation and yoga can also give the mind a respite. Regular meditation can allow us to slow down our minds, ridding them of the incessant chatter in our heads. It focuses concentration and allows us to see the world as it really is, instead of how we imagine it to be.
I very much know that it’s a lot easier said than done. If you, like me, find it challenging to slow down, I sincerely wish you the best as you try to quiet the noise, slow down and not run so fast that you miss the wonders in this precious life! I’d love to hear of your experiences and if you have any tips to share about how best to slow down! La Vie en Bleu will continue with lesson number seven from the Blue Zones on how to live a healthier and happier life. Won’t you join me? Until then, bonne chance!
The Blue Zones include:
Nicoya, Costa Rica
Loma Linda, California