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Nancy Okerlund
Volume 1, Issue 7, 10/11/07

Going Slower

Today I'm watching myself rush. What's interesting is that I'm doing it without time pressure. I have one only appointment - the rest of the day is unscheduled - and my body is still hurrying.

When I notice I'm hurrying, I slow down. I let myself walk slower. (This happens every few minutes.) I catch myself speeding as I wash my lunch dishes and ease up.

I'm on my way to the freeway when I remember I'd rather take the scenic route - city streets, slower, more relaxing - to the library. So I do.

I love going slower. (I notice I don't want to say "I love going slow.") What I don't like is hurrying. And I don't like the assumption that I should be hurrying, which, unfortunately, seems to be built into my operating system.

Whenever I realize I'm hurrying and let myself go slower, always, I notice it first in my body - I think I experience what the brain researchers call a "hap hit" - a noticeable feeling of satisfaction, a "hit" of happiness, even if it sometimes lasts only a fleeting moment.

I'm guessing one thing introverts and extroverts have in common is that none of us likes to hurry as a way of life. Out of curiosity I looked up "hurry" in the dictionary, thinking it would say something like going faster than normal or faster than you want to.

But it wasn't till the third definition or so that going too fast came up. So maybe I'm wrong about extroverts, because the basic definition was simply about going quickly.

And pace is, according to temperament research, different for introverts and extroverts. Generally speaking, extroverts do have a faster pace than introverts because of differences in brain chemistry and in how we use the autonomic nervous system.

Introverts and extroverts are in the same boat, though, when it comes to my definition of "hurrying as a lifestyle": going faster than you want to more often than you like. Nobody likes that - it's built into the definition! And my hunch is that it's not just introverts who face the challenge of hurrying as a lifestyle.

But help is on the way! Some time ago I read a book called "In Praise of Slowness", by Carl Honore'. It was published in 2004 and describes the international "Slow movement", which is taking many forms around the world. For instance: the 700+ member Sloth Club in Japan, the Society for the Deceleration of Time in Europe, Citta Slow ("Slow Cities") in Italy, Slow Food activists all over the world, and millions of people slowly doing their yoga right here in the U.S. of A.

I'm curious about the make-up of this multi-faceted movement. Is it mainly introverts, quietly taking things into our own hands? Or extroverts deciding the speed of life has gotten out of control and mobilizing? Or introverts and extroverts organically collaborating?

I like to say that I believe the world is longing for more "introvert energy" - more reflection, more quiet, a slower pace. I'm secretly hoping the Slow movement is an introvert/extrovert collaboration. But I know introverts have natural talent to contribute to it.

Meanwhile, back in my own body (which played three games of solitaire really fast today :-)), I've got two things going for me. One is that I love those "hap hits" I get when I slow down. The other is that I've declared my intention to let my life be slower. (An intention can be very powerful.)

End of food for thought - on to a practical idea:

A Practical Idea for Introverts and Extroverts

Think about the amount of hurrying in your life. If it's about right, take a moment to feel satisfied. If it's more than you like, set an intention to slow your pace down a notch or two. Find a way to remind yourself about your intention once a week - and see what happens!

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