“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”
How true! Although the need for speed seems to grow daily, there’s plenty of evidence that slowing down has many benefits: it can make us healthier, happier, and even more creative. In a recent article on the value of taking life a little easier, there were tips on getting up every morning in a more leisurely fashion, delaying your first cup of coffee a few hours to give your brain a boost when it needs it most, and using a slow-fast rhythm while exercising in order to boost strength-training results.
But what really attracted my attention were two pointers about communicating. One dealt with the need for slowing down when reacting to online comments. The other focused on the value of capturing your thoughts using pen and paper. Here’s a quick overview:
Online responses: Posts, tweets, and texts offer instant gratification, but they can also be easily misunderstood. And sometimes they can lead us to write knee-jerk replies that can have an unintended ripple effect. As Ryan Martin, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin Green=Bay observes, “We’re in the midst of a real epidemic of high emotions online. This is true with email, texts, Twitter, Facebook — everywhere….When you can’t take into account tone of voice or facial expression, you’re more likely to misunderstand.” There’s a simple solution: Instead of writing and sending an instant response to a problematic online message, just close it and revisit it later. Chances are, you’ll be in a better frame of mind to craft a reply or you’ll find that you may have initially misinterpreted the message.
Write action: One of the most effective ways to slow down is also one of the simplest: Writing down your thoughts and feelings in longhand on paper. “The beauty of writing is that it allows you to capture your creative thoughts,” says Richard Quis, the coauthor of Thinking Anew: Harnessing the Power of Belief. Taking time to think about and process life events on paper can help you stay centered during difficult moments and can actually help you analyze challenging situations more creatively.
Another intriguing finding along these lines: Studies show that writing creatively for 15 minutes daily ignites the release of mood-elevating serotonin. In the winter, this can tamp down aches within 72 hours. There’s speculation that a devotion to reading and writing is one reason why Iceland ranks among the lowest users of painkillers in Europe. For generations, Icelanders have escaped tough winters by immersing themselves in ancient tales of history and romance. In fact, the storytelling tradition there is so strong that 1 in 10 Icelandic women is an author — amazing!
So, slow down your reaction time on line, grab a pen and paper, and if you’re suffering from writer’s block, consider a trip to Iceland. Just kidding! But, hey, why not? Write on.