It’s time for all good bloggers to share their new year’s resolutions. I don’t have a list of resolutions so much as a number of goals based on a common theme: to live more slowly.
I’m currently reading William Powers’ New Slow City.* Powers previously wrote a book about living in a 12 x 12 cabin in the middle of nowhere, where it is very easy to live slowly and deliberately. In Manhattan, however, there are many more distractions, not the least of which is your fellow Manhattanites who are living insanely busy and distracted lives. The same is true here in Chicago. According to Powers, as a general rule, Americans are terrible at living slowly, allowing themselves to zone out and dawdle, and gifting themselves the benefit of unplanned free time.
In fact, to me, the whole idea of new year’s resolutions are just another example of how obsessed Americans are with packing their lives to the gills with things to be busy with. We begin our years by stacking up hours upon hours of stuff that we need to do this year: work out, lose weight, spend more time writing, etc. These are good things, and they’re well-intentioned, but they also function as excuses to keep us from doing whatever the hell we want to do. It’s almost like they exist to keep us from having the kind of uninterrupted time that we really need to be truly “better” – more focused, more attuned to our thoughts and feelings, undistracted.
Like most millennials, I’m extraordinarily guilty of staying unhealthily connected and scheduled at all times. I check my work email constantly on the way to the office, on the way from the office, and throughout the evening. I draft emails at night and save them as drafts to send them first thing in the morning. I get hundreds of texts a day (my preferred method of communicating with friends) and I respond to every one as soon as possible. In the two weeks before Christmas, I had some sort of social event scheduled every night, even if it was just a night in with friends.
And I find myself regularly exhausted. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. Even those night in with friends require me to be “on,” focused on other people, and giving something of myself. As an introvert, I have a limited amount of energy to give, and when I’m running low, I feel like I just want to sleep for days. I have the same issue with my work, which I love, but requires me to be always on and giving. With my work and social lives as they were, there were not enough hours in the day for me to do what I really love to do: write, read, drink really good coffee or beer while doing either, and perhaps most importantly, just stare off into space while snuggled up on the couch.
So I’ve begun to slowly ease into living slowly. Over the holiday, I took my work email and related apps off of my phone. By the second day, I felt less tense. In four days, I read four books. I put my phone on silent to encourage me to check it only when I wanted to, not when a text or call alerted me to. Already, I’m able to focus better. I can sit and read for longer than I could a few weeks ago. I am less distracted on the whole, even by my own thoughts. And when I don’t need to focus, I feel more comfortable just letting my brain drift away.
So with all that said, here are some of the things that I’m aiming to do in 2015:
- Read 50 books
- Keep my phone on silent as much as possible, so I can respond to things when I am ready
- Avoid checking work email outside of business hours
- Say no when I need to
- Write more
- Become comfortable with silence and a lack of activity
What are your resolutions in 2015? Will you be slowing down?
* So far, this book is alternately full of beautiful insights on living slowly and deliberately and moronic yuppie crap that makes me want to reach into the book and punch this guy in the face. (I do not think punching someone in the face is part of living more slowly, but hey, it’s only January 2.)
A dozen of us have just finished two hours of sunrise sadhana — the morning spiritual practice in the kundalini tradition — and we are still on our mats. This is the first time Melissa and I have been motivated to celebrate sadhana. We usually take Golden Bridge’s evening classes, but we decided to try something different when, at 3:45 AM, we biked here for an intense hour of kundalini yoga postures, followed by another hour of meditation where, as the dawn swelled, we sang seven gorgeous mantras.