7 Tips To Help You Slow Down and Enjoy Your Life As It Is

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” ~Gandhi

I have always been a person who wants to be one step ahead. I think my parents would say that I liked to push the boundaries. I wanted to experience many things, and I wanted to experience them quickly.

When my brother went to sleep-away camp, I had to go the next year despite being three years younger than him.

At age thirteen I had to ski with the older kids, racing faster and harder than I was ready for.

When I was fifteen I pushed to take a trip to Mexico with a friend despite my parents’ better judgment (and when I look back on this I realize I really was too young).

In college I continued to push the limits. This seemed okay at the time because everyone was doing it.

By the age of twenty-four I had broken away from the safety of my home state and moved myself out west and back again, living in some of the country’s most exciting places.

I wouldn’t’ stay long though—two years here, one year there.

I rushed through each amazing place, taking in as much as I could. I landed great jobs but didn’t stay long. I wanted more and I wanted change. What was I seeking?

Two years ago life shifted for me, and I was forced to slow down a bit.

I found myself in pursuit of a life-changing career. I became a teacher. I spend my days with nine year olds. Nothing makes you live in the moment like being surrounded my children. They require your complete presence and attention.

I don’t think many would call the teaching profession a stress reliever, but I find it makes me slow down and appreciate every day.

I also met a man who completely changed how I saw the world. He is older, and has experienced more of life than I have (not just in years, but in challenges and experiences I cannot imagine).

He provides me with unconditional love. He loves my best and accepts my worst. He challenges me to look at the most difficult aspects of myself. I love him and cannot imagine life without him. 

At times I still find myself speeding ahead through life. I see friends getting married and having children, and I know I want that too. I struggle to not want that immediately. 

Here I am at age twenty-nine, two semesters away from a master’s degree, working at my dream job, living in a wonderful city, in a wonderful and loving relationship, and yet I am constantly seeking the next thing. When will I get married? Buy a house? Have kids?

Why can’t I just live in the moment? Appreciate my life for what I have now?

This is something I have been working on over the past six months and I have found a few steps that are helpful when I have that particular “rushed” feeling.

1. Notice the small things.

I live in a small but urban city on the coast. The other night by boyfriend and I came back to my parked car after dinner to find a praying mantis sitting in the middle my windshield. We both just stared in awe and surprise—where did it come from?

I consider myself to be an open-minded skeptic when it comes to things like spirit animals, but I was not surprised to learn that praying mantis’ bring with them the idea of mindfulness and a reminder to slow down.

2. Count your blessings and keep perspective.

Chances are your life is pretty great. Yes, we all have struggles. But my “first world” problems are not life threatening, are they? Do I have an unsafe living situation? No. Do I struggle to find clean drinking water? Do I have a life-threatening illness? No and no.

I have everything I need to survive (and more)—and I bet you do too.

3. Do not compare.

Things aren’t always what they seem. That friend who just got married may not be totally happy in her career. That couple that just bought a house might be feeling strapped financially. There are ups and downs to every situation.

Trust that you are where you are supposed to be and that everything happens for a reason.

4. Find joy.

There is a lot of joy in each day; you just need to look for it. That toothless grin from a 9 year old? Joy. Your cat pouncing on the nearest moving target? Joy. Leaves beginning to get their golden hue? Amazing. Pasta with homemade pesto? Awesome.

There are simply amazing things that happen every single day. Just open your eyes.

5. Control the controllables.

This is something my boyfriend always says, and I really like it. Change what you can and don’t stress about the rest. You cannot change traffic but you can change how you react to it. So you have an extra 10 minutes in the car? See it as down time.

You cannot change others but you can change how you react to them. Your friend is late for dinner plans? Grab a beer and relax. Chances are it isn’t on purpose, and what is wrong with a little extra me-time?

6. Live in the moment.

I am a planner. I like to know when and where for pretty much everything that happens in my life. It is limiting, to say the least.

For some reason I seem to think that making plans will decrease my anxiety. But you know what makes me really anxious? When plans change. The thing is, plans change all the time! Life happens and you cannot control it.

Go with the flow. Plan only what you need to, and learn to take the day as it comes.

7. Trust the universe.

You don’t have to believe in a higher power for this one. You just have to notice all the good around you. There is proof right in front of you that things do turn out how they are supposed to. Find inspiration and hope in the happiness that surrounds you everyday.

Photo by tanya_little

About Alison Roberts

Alison is a elementary school teacher living in her home state of Maine.

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  • Hey Alison!

    I really enjoyed reading your article. I was thinking the same from past few days, that I wanted to slow down my life, not because of it’s fast pace but because I was unable to feel the present moment. At the back of mind I’m always occupied with what next I have to when this task is over. I was conscious about this thing that my mind was running and I wanted to control it keep it in the present moment. Your words really resonated with my thoughts and I think I’ve got a little push for what I was wanting to do. Thanks! 🙂

    By the way, teaching children is great, I used to take tutions of children from 4th grade and yes, they kind of “force” you to concentrate in the moment and it is really good.

    Take care! 🙂

  • Thanks, Alison. Very, very, very helpful article for me—especially this part: “Trust that you are where you are supposed to be.”

  • This is great! Could not have been better timing, with the business of final exams and the holidays. Thanks!

  • stephanie

    thank you for this! I’m a planner and when things don’t go how I imagined, it really throws me at times. thanks for this reminder to live now 🙂

  • lv2terp

    Wonderful post!!!! 🙂 Great points and tips!! Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom! 🙂

  • Jahazhar

    Adopt a dog, it is really slowing me down and she helps me enjoy life and connect with the here and now. Thanks!

  • Thank you for the kind comments everyone. This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me and I’m the author! With the holidays, school break and other life stresses, it was a nice reminder that I have the power within me to change the way I think and live life.

  • Fiona

    Great post and identify with all your tips. The one that I am currently trying to achieve is trying not to plan so much and let things happen and go with the flow. It is hard at times but it’s less stressful like you say when things go wrong. Thanks you!

  • SammyD

    This is SO fab Ali!

  • saelwen

    This is so completely relevant to me because I’ve been working to reach this state myself. While there are plenty worse things out there it is strangely heartbreaking to feel like everyone around you is achieving what you so desperately want. For months after my last birthday I was so depressed by the fact my boyfriend still hadn’t proposed, and I was getting older. My mind was wholly in the negative beginning to question his love, or my marriageability. Then I woke up one day and realised being sad about it wasn’t going to make it happen any faster, and it was making my day to day living depressing. So I began trying to focus on enjoying the present. I’ve got so many amazing things in my life already that deserve attention and appreciating and I’m focusing on them while happy in the knowledge that all the other things I want are coming at their own perfect time

  • krupa

    Great relates to me so much as I too am a person looking for constant change. I do get bored with the stuffs around me quite fastly.. But now I learnt how to take one moment at a time and find joy in it. Its much refreshing and you end up loving your life more than ever

  • bandit

    Lovely…thanks for these tips. I especially like the last tip to trust the universe. When we stop to observe, it becomes very clear what the universe is telling/trying to tell us.

  • Indeliza Reyes

    thankuuuuu. this is what I was looking for :))

  • Iris10

    Thank you for sharing this!! I’ve been moving through my own life on hyper speed acting as if I hurry up and accomplish everything, I’ll be less anxious and enlightened, of course with the bonus of having lots of down time. A few months ago I purposefully resigned from my job to spend more time with my children and soul search, but with that little voice still badgering me to move on to the next thing.
    Your post reminded me of the reasons why I took this time off and to find the gifts in each day and I am exactly where I am supposed to be….

  • Tom S

    The reason you struggle with wanting or chasing the next thing in life is because and I don’t mean to get to religious here on you and others, but it’s because of that deadily sin called ENVY. We as humans have this part in our DNA makeup that because we are by nature sinful creatures, we want what we see or want what others have or we want what we hear about.
    It’s a constant battle for all of us if we are true to ourselves and our God.
    We have the Freedom of Choice in life and if you want to slow down, you can, it’s your choice, but if you want to go freakin 150mph and burn the candle at both ends in life, you can do that to. It’s a choice to walk that road in life how you choose.
    Now, the choices we make and you alluded to it in your blog post, usually involve others in our life that influence the choices we make. Had you stayed home and said NO to overnight camp, your life could have changed some. If you would have said NO to the friend going to Mexico, your life would have been altered or delayed there to.
    It’s all in how you look at your life. We have experiences in life that hopefully teach us to become better human beings. I believe your experiences have taught you and guided you to see your passion is helping others, especially teaching kids.
    The fact you are questioning whether or not you will have things in life that your other friends have like marriage, kids, etc…. that is just being that sin as aforementioned called ENVY. You may be jealous too that others have accomplished things in life that you haven’t yet, but that’s OK, your time hasn’t come yet.
    Now, back to CHOICE….you can decide when to get married, kids, new job, move, etc…. anytime you want, it’s your choice. But, sometimes, in life, things are just out of our control and you need to learn to except that no matter how hard you try or work at something, you have to also have faith.
    The bible states: Faith without Works you are dead and works without faith you are dead.
    You can’t work, work, work so fast through life without also having faith and vice versa. It just doesn’t work like that.
    So, a little tip on SUCCESS in life: 1. Be Certain and Have Faith you will succeed at anything. Don’t be afraid of failing. You start with a Strong Mindset 2. Look deep inside and tap into your potential. 3. Apply yourself or put into action what you really want to have happen 4. Results will happen in your life and you continue to do steps 1 through 3 above…it’s the Cycle of Success in Life.
    If you follow the principle of Faith and Works, follow the 4 steps to success in life above, and at the end of the day realize you can slow down and smell the roses, then trying to keep up with the Jones’s in life, will slowly fall to the waist side and you will be happy and content with the choices you make in life, as well as, march to your own beat and speed in life with total freedom and happiness.

  • limlim

    Tip 5 is what I need right now and the third one is hard for me to deal with currently. I still can’t ignore other people’s talks. Thank you for the article and great tips!