One of the most fascinating and compelling books we’ve read on the importance of slowing down is Carl Honoré’s In Praise of Slow: Challenging the Cult of Speed. Before writing this book, Honoré – like most of us – lived each day as a race against the clock, “obsessed with saving every last scrap of time, a minute here, a few seconds there.” He was, in his own words, “Scrooge with a stopwatch.”
It wasn’t until he found himself lighting up at prospect of a “One-Minute Bedtime Story” that he realized how skewed his priorities had become. He then resolved to explore why we are always rushing, and whether it was possible or even desirable to slow down.
Meet the Slow Movement
In his book, Honoré delves into the history of our society’s cult of speed, and takes the reader with him on investigative journalist-type travels to meet the people and movements fighting to slow various aspects of life back down to a human pace. From Slow Food to slow sex, slow medicine to slow exercise and slow cities, the book gives us a glimpse of another way of life…a slower, richer, more satisfying life.
The people and movements he profiles are international, like the Slow Movement itself. People are fighting to slow down the clock in hyperspeed countries like Japan, America and the UK as well as places with long traditions of a leisurely way of life.
Honoré emphasizes repeatedly that his book isn’t intended to excoriate speed, or advocate for slowing down everything in our lives. Rather, it’s a plea for doing each of life’s activities at its appropriate speed – what musicians would call the tempo giusto, the right tempo for the context. Some tasks or activities really are best done quickly. Other acts – like connecting with others, profound thinking, playing, and childhood – are better and much more happily performed at a slower, more natural pace.
Slow Down To Connect
Slowing down is a key ingredient to nurturing authentic connection. As Honoré’s book shows us in context after context, humans thrive when our most primal activities are performed without the crush of unrealistic time constraints. We are simply not built to race through existence. As Gandhi so eloquently said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”
By relearning to take our time in key areas, we can nurture healthier connection with ourselves, our fellow humans, and the larger world. In slowing down, we regain connection to our own humanity.