I’ve almost finished reading Carl Honore’s book “In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed,” and I discovered his 20 minute TED talk video today recorded in July 2005, and posted online in February 2007. These are a few of my notes from that presentation.

We are marinated the culture of speed today, our “roadrunner form of life” takes a high toll on our lives, our relationships, our communities, and our world.

We often need a wakeup call

Are we hurrying through life rather than living it? Are we living the fast life rather than the good life?

How do we think if time itself in our culture?
- in the east many view time in a cyclical way
- in the west we generally view time as linear, “use it or lose it,” time is money,” etc.
- that creates an equation where we try to speed everything up, make everything into a race to the finish line
- is it possible to break free from this mindset?

By slowing down at the right moments, people find that they can do many things better
- the international slow movement
- the slow food movement
- the slow cities movement (rethink how the urban landscape is organized, to encourage connections and slowing down)

Working hours have come down in some workplaces, and in some cases are finding higher levels of productivity without people being workaholics
- value of employees unplugging at times: turning off black, letting the brain recharge and enter a creative mode

Children are overworked now
- I am amazed how kids race around now with more homework, more activities, etc
- I get emails on my website from adolescents on the border of burnout
- some communities have declared days where all extracurriculars are banned

there are homework bans springing up in the developed world
- people discovering less can be more
- Scottish school banned homework for children under 13

Elite universities are noticing that caliber of students is falling in some ways, kids don’t know how to dream, they have lost their “spark”
- Harvard is sending a letter out to freshmen to encourage them to slow down, and do less, letter is called “Slow Down”

Message is the same: less is often more, slower is often better

That said, it is not easy to slow down: It is hard!

Speed is fun, sexy, it has adrenaline appeal
- there is a metaphysical level to this psychology
- slow is a byword for lazy, slacker, it has bad cultural baggage

Purpose of the slow movement is to tackle that taboo
- there is a “bad slow”
- but the new idea, the revolutionary idea, is that there is a “good slow” – eating a meal with your family with the TV turned off, tackling a problem at work from all angles with a team

just slowing down and taking time to savor your life

Many are starting to realize there is too much speed in the system, too much business
- this is not just in the developed world, also in the developing world
- many are looking at certain aspects of “The West” and liking some of what they see there, but not everything, especially not liking the high costs of all the speed

Is it possible to slow down?
- yes, the answer is a resounding “YES”
- I still love speed, I work as a journalist, I love to play squash and ice hockey
- over the last few years, however, I have gotten in touch with my “inner tortoise”
- my default mode is no longer to be a rush-a-holic

Upshot: I feel much happier, healthier, and productive
- I feel I am living my life and not just rushing through it
- most important: I feel my relationships are stronger and deeper
- litmus test: bedtime story time with my own children, not rushed

Children don’t do ‘quality time’
- they need you to move at their rhythm
- I find that when I move at that tempo, sharing opportunities open up
- bedtime stories have become my reward at the end of the day, rather than just something I must do or I dread

For more, check out Carl’s website “In Praise of Slow.”

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  • http://www.dangerouslyirrelevant.org/ Scott McLeod

    I’m all in favor of slowing down. Goodness knows I need to. But I find it ironic that Harvard rewards students who are in the fast lane through its admission policies and then tells them to slow down once those students arrive. I wonder how sincerely that belief truly is and how it manifests itself in other actions at Harvard besides sending new students a letter. Is slowing down really rewarded at Harvard? Can student who do slow down in high school even get into Harvard?

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