Lost, yesterday, somewhere between Sunrise and Sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.
Horace Mann

Ah yes, don’t we know it’s true; those precious 1,440 minutes per day are certainly whizzing by. But hey, who’s got the time to stand around appreciating those sparkling time slots when there’s just so much to do and so few golden hours to do it in? We might even be wondering if we have the time to be happy!
Journalist Carl Honoré came face to face with this dilemma when he found himself speed-reading his daughter’s bedtime story. We have all had mad moments like this when we suddenly stopped and realized that we had forgotten the real reason that we were doing something in the first place. Fast forward (actually make that slow forward!) to this evening when you: sit down to dinner; chat with friends; put your child to bed; make love…will you be enjoying every moment or will you be going through the motions of doing the task with your eye on the time? When Carl Honoré realized how his desperation to do more was taking him into the realms of the absurd he decided to fight back. The result was his internationally acclaimed book, In Praise of Slow, which has precipitated a worldwide movement that challenges the cult of speed. He describes being ‘slow’ as meaning ‘ living better in the hectic modern world by striking a balance between fast and slow.’ No worries then about throwing out your laptop and dishwasher and getting back to Stone Age basics.
Today we will be looking at ways to strike that magical balance between enjoying the amazing diversity of the material world and remembering to take pleasure in each and every precious moment of our lives. ‘If only I just had more time;’ how often do you say this? And what do you tell yourself that you would be doing with this extra stash of hours? I know you are busy and there are things that must be done before you can relax, but why not try a new approach. Instead of fighting the clock let’s find a way to work with it. When you have a realistic and healthy approach to the concept of time you will find it possible to do more of all those wonderful things that make you happy. I can sense your resistance; perhaps you have read a few too many articles about time management; writing lists and prioritizing. I know how you feel, and if you could see me now in my office with lists and research papers and notes cluttering every surface you would realize that I am on your side. I’m not knocking ‘to do lists’ but I do know that it takes more than this to get our lives into a happy balance.

Hurried woman syndrome

Mahatma Gadhi once commented that, ‘There is more to life than increasing its speed’ and he was certainly on to something even then. I wonder what the great spiritual leader and political activist would have made of our rushaholic times?
The Hurried Woman Syndrome (HWS) has been recognised as a new epidemic among British women and was first identified by Texan doctor, Brent Bost. The women’s magazine Prima has conducted the first UK study of the condition by questioning 10,000 women. More than 75% of these women showed signs of HWS. Now, are you wondering what the symptoms might be or do you know only too well what they are? You probably won’t be surprised to hear that hurried women are overweight, tired and have a low sex drive!
Ruth Tierney, Features Editor of Prima, said: ‘The results were shocking…Many of the women we interviewed instantly identified with the vicious circle of symptoms, which often begins with tiredness, leading to an increase in appetite, weight gain, and a loss of interest in sex and exercise. These changes kick-start a cycle of emotional symptoms including a lack of self-esteem, irritability, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, and a drop in motivation.’ Ah, so perhaps now you know why you are not always at your fabulous best. But what’s to be done?
Ms Tierney says, ‘It seems the answer to this very modern condition is to go back to basics, and to stop trying to be the perfect wife, mother and employee.’ And Dr Bost concluded that all us HW’s should: ‘Do the things granny would have told you to do. Basically, slow down and smell the roses, set priorities and realise you have limits.’
Before you shout in protest that you haven’t got the time to smell a rose, or indeed anything else, let’s get all this into perspective; you are not the only who is in a hurry. Sociologist have now recognised the widespread effects of what they call ‘time famine’ which they suggest is due in part to our increasingly speed driven methods of communication. Our phones ensure that we are immediately contactable and that instant email/text whizzing through the ethers often demands a similarly instant response. A Harvard Medical School doctor has even invented the term ‘pseudo ADD’ to describe the people who compulsively check their phones and emails every 30 seconds and so are unable to focus on whatever they are supposed to be doing.
On his website Carl Honoré, using the word ‘slow’ as shorthand for a new approach to time and space, talks about the concept of slow email. He says: ‘These days, even technophiles are warming to the idea of speed limits on the information superhighway. A senior manager at IBM now appends this rallying cry to every email he sends: “Read your email just twice each day. Recapture your life’s time and relearn to dream. Join the slow email movement!” Mmm you might possibly be thinking that your boss would not be too keen on this idea; but it’s easy to relate to Carl’s approach. Are you hooked on checking your phone and your email? Would you like to recapture some of your life’s time? Start thinking about how you could you begin to do this.

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Copyright © Lynda Field 2015

Adapted from my book, Fast Track to Happiness.



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