5 Ways to Slow Down and Be Happy

3 minute read
Sunim is one of South Korea's preeminent Zen Buddhist teachers and the author most recently of The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down.

When we are in hurry and try to get things done quickly, we realize that there is hardly any joy in what we do. It becomes only a means to an end while neglecting its process. However, when we make an effort to slow down, we begin to notice that the world slows down, too. This puts us in a different mindset and lets us enjoy what we presently do. Here are my five simple tips for slowing down and rediscovering joy in what we do.

First, sense the pleasant feeling of deep breathing.

It is a well-known fact that coming back to our breathing can instantly de-stress us and slow things down. This is because deep breathing leaves a pleasant and relaxing sensation in our body as air passes through the throat, chest and belly. This nice, nourishing sensation comes naturally, and no great effort is needed to produce it. Simply breathe deeply and enjoy the pleasant sensation simultaneously arising in your body. As we practice this more often, we become calmer, happier and not as easily distracted by the fast pace of life.

Second, leave home ten minutes earlier.

If we leave our home ten minutes earlier than usual to get to work, we can take time to enjoy the sunlight on our skin, the smell of fresh air and the aliveness of our relaxed bodies. We can more easily touch the wonders of life in and around us and even smile at people we meet along the way. Even when your schedule is packed with many meetings, still arrive at your appointment ten minutes early. You will discover micro-moments of freedom and leisure.

Third, really see what is in front of you.

When we get lost in our thoughts, we often end up worrying about our future or regretting what happened in the past. Excessive thoughts disconnect us from the present moment and can cause mental suffering. To wake up from the habit of constant thinking, I would recommend that we focus our attention to what is in front of us and really see each object. If a person is in front of you, really see his or her face with great interest. If an object is present, then really see it, too. As we pay more attention, each object becomes quite fascinating.

Fourth, close your eyes and savor food.

According to scientists, among the five senses, human beings get disproportionately large amounts of information through our eyes. Whether we intend it or not, when our eyes are open, visual information dominates our brain. This makes it difficult to notice the information coming through different senses. One easy antidote to this phenomenon is simply closing your eyes and paying attention to one sense. In particular, I would recommend closing your eyes while having food in your mouth. With your eyes closed, it becomes easier to savor food slowly and enjoy its full taste.

Fifth, stop multi-tasking and just enjoy music.

Living in big towns or cities can make us feel as if we are constantly bombarded with too much noise, and too many sights and odors, which makes us feel overwhelmed and stressed. Rather than feeling that we are the victims of our environment, why don’t we take control back by listening to the music of our choice? Music is a great source of relaxation and pleasure. Stop multi-tasking and enjoy the mono-task of listening to your favorite music.

This article originally appeared on Penguin.co.uk.

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