Silence.

Silence.

Silence can make us nervous thinking we need to fill the void, but there is immense strength in silence.

All sounds, from a whisper to a classical symphony, arise out of silence and disappear into silence. But silence is always there beneath sound and is the space where sound can exist. We tend to think of silence as the absence of sound, but silence has its own weight and quality. When you listen to silence, you can perceive its intense depth and power. 

Taking the time to experience silence calms the mind and rejuvenates the body. Silence is the void where we can hear the many sounds that we often ignore - the voice of our intuition telling us the truth, the sound of the breeze blowing, the hum of the radiator, and the noises we make just because we are alive.

One way to experience silence is to wake up before the rest of the world has come alive. Try not to move into activity, and leave off the lights, radio, and television. Sit still and simply listen. You may hear your heartbeat or your breath, but keep your attention tuned to the silence that surrounds you. Stay this way for as long as you can, and allow the sound of silence to penetrate your body until it moves into your core. Feel the gentle, pulsing waves of silence and allow it to cleanse you. Five minutes of communing with silence can leave you feeling vibrant and connected to the universe.

At night, choose a moment after everyone around you has retired and tune in to silence. You can also experience silence throughout the day. Even in the midst of activity, moments of silence are always present. Usually we ignore or feel nervous around silence and try to fill these moments with sound. 

Yet silence is always there - vast, potent, and available for us to step into any time we choose.
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Embracing Our Imperfections.

Embracing Our Imperfections.

By Hubert Joly

When I became the CEO of Carlson Companies, which owned Carlson Wagonlit Travel and other brands like Radisson Hotels and TGI Friday’s, the head of HR, Elizabeth Bastoni, asked me if I wanted to work with an executive coach. You will not be surprised to know that I was reluctant. I had no problem with coaching for my tennis game or skiing. But my job was another matter. In fact, if you had told me at that time that a fellow executive was using a coach, I would have thought, What is wrong with that person? What problem does he or she have? In my defense, executive coaching at the time was perceived as remedial. So why should I get a coach? Elizabeth explained that Marshall Goldsmith helped successful leaders become even better. His list of clients was impressive. Suddenly, it was as if I had been told: I see you love playing tennis and you’re good at it. Would you like to continue to improve your game?

Of course I wanted to get better! So I started working with Marshall. I learned to look at feedback as “feedforward” and to choose areas I wanted to work on. It is a subtle but important distinction: I was not focused on fixing a problem, but rather deciding what I wanted to get better at. This is how I learned to thank people for feedback, tell them what I was working on, and ask them for advice. I learned to check in with them, hear from them how I was doing, and ask for more advice. I learned to embrace the feedback I used to put aside.

Through the experience of someone close to me who was dealing with depression, I later discovered that psychologists echo Father Samuel’s words on perfection, vulnerability, love, and human connections. Perfectionism, it turns out, is not good for you: abundant research has linked it to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and even suicide.2

All those years, I expected others to be impossibly perfect, while ignoring my own vulnerabilities. This severely limits human relationships—and therefore collaboration, effective teamwork, and leadership. Employees are more inspired by vulnerable leaders than leaders who project unreasonable strength and perfection, because we relate and bond through our imperfections. Brené Brown, who defines herself as a “researcher, storyteller, Texan,” has spent the past two decades studying vulnerability, courage, shame, and empathy. She explicitly lists connection as one of the gifts of imperfection—along with courage and compassion.3 What stands in the way of connection, she has found, is shame, or the fear that there is something that, if others see and know about us, will make us unworthy of connection. People who felt a strong sense of love, connection, and belonging, on the other hand, were those who had the courage to be imperfect and who embraced vulnerability.4 All this taught me that there can be no genuine human connection without vulnerability, and no vulnerability without imperfection.

I have also learned from other business leaders about how the quest for perfection hinders rather than advances great work. Alan Mulally, the former CEO of Ford, was kind enough to share how, early in the company’s turnaround, he had encouraged his colleagues to openly admit when and where they had problems.

When Alan became CEO in 2006, Ford was expected to lose $17 billion that year. And it did. As he put it, the company did not have a forecasting problem: it had a performance problem, part of which was a corporate culture in which admitting problems was seen as a sign of weakness. Alan implemented a “traffic lights” color system for reports on key performance areas, which were discussed every Thursday during his Business Plan Review meetings. All the members of the leadership team had to color-code the weekly status report against their teams’ goals: green when everything was on track; amber when things were off the rails, but there was a plan to get back on track; and red where performance was off, and the team did not yet have a plan to get back on course.

Alan told us how, in the first few weeks, everything was green. The company was facing a substantial loss, but looking at the charts, everything was going according to plan. “You know, we are losing billions of dollars,” Alan pointed out. “Isn’t there anything that’s not going well?” Mark Fields, who would later succeed Alan as CEO, was the first to take a risk and admit that not everything was perfect. He was then in charge of Ford’s Americas operations, and he had a problem with the highly anticipated launch of the Ford Edge in Canada: testing had revealed a grinding noise in the suspension that had not yet been resolved, and he had decided to put the launch on hold. At the next weekly meeting, he characterized the launch as red and explained that they had not yet figured out how to solve the problem.

According to Alan, eyes went to the floor, and the air left the room. But Alan began to clap. “Who can help Mark with this?” he asked. Suddenly, someone raised his hand: he would send his quality experts right away. Someone else offered to ask suppliers to check their components. Alan, himself an engineer, did not jump in. He relied on his team to collaborate, rather than insert himself. The problem with the Ford Edge was resolved quickly.

It took a few more weekly meetings, but eventually more red and amber appeared on the charts. By then, everyone on the team trusted that they could openly acknowledge problems and would help each other turn red into amber and then green.

Alan Mulally’s story illustrates another problem with the quest for perfection: no one can ever have all the answers. In healthy work environments, no one will be afraid of saying they do not know. Yet as obvious as that sounds, many people still believe that saying “I don’t know” is viewed as weakness. I remember as a teenager, one of my parents’ friends, who was a businessman, asked me a question. I cannot remember the question, but I remember saying to him: “I don’t know.”

He looked at me and said: “Young man, I hope you will never say that in the business world, because this is admitting a weakness, and you should never do this. This will limit your potential.”

I have wrestled with perfectionism, but even back then, this made no sense to me. If I did not know, well, I did not know! What was wrong with that? I could always learn and find out. I was not pigeonholing myself by saying I am not good at math, or I am not a visual thinker. I was not saying I cannot know. I just did not know. If someone asks you about last month’s market share or what section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank act is all about, there is nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t know. Let me look into it!”

Alan Mulally thwarted perfectionism so problems could be acknowledged and resolved. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos points out that perfectionism also impedes innovation by making us afraid to fail. “I believe we are the best place in the world to fail,” he wrote in a letter to shareholders. “Failure and invention are inseparable twins. To invent, you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment. Most large organizations embrace the idea of invention but are not willing to suffer the string of failed experiments necessary to get there.”5

Learning about the benefits of imperfection would profoundly transform how I approached my role at Best Buy, and without it, the transformation might not have gone the way it did. Once Best Buy successfully emerged from its turnaround and embarked on a growth strategy, we worked hard to shift a collective mindset away from perfectly hitting targets and toward what Stanford University professor of psychology Carol Dweck defines as a “growth mindset,” or the idea that talent and abilities can be developed through effort and learning. Mistakes and failure are essential to learning, but they do not sit well with perfectionism, which is instead associated with a “fixed mindset”—the view that abilities are innate and fixed. Carol Dweck points out that wanting to be seen as perfect is often called the “CEO disease,” as it afflicts many leaders.6 Unfortunately, the need to establish superiority by exhibiting effortless perfection means there is little incentive to take on anything challenging—and therefore to learn—for fear of failing.

So much of business life is driven by the quest to be “the best” or “number one”—a symptom of Dweck’s fixed mindset. Many companies, Best Buy included, have a system of scorecards and rankings to measure and reward performance. Rankings are everywhere. Being the best is even in Best Buy’s name. It is a disease—one that, according to psychologists, feeds a growing and self-defeating quest for perfection.7 The problem is, the idea of being the best implies that the world is a zero-sum game. There is room for only 10 people or companies in the top 10. You can only become number one by knocking off someone else. And then what do you do when you become number one? There is nowhere else to go but down. Of course, there is competition, and competition is important. But competition against oneself, or doing better tomorrow than we did yesterday, takes us much further than obsessively measuring ourselves against others.
We all work—and lead—best when we embrace vulnerability, learn from failure, and strive to be our best rather than the best. For it is in these imperfections that we can truly and deeply connect with others.
Coming Full Circle.

Coming Full Circle.

When we come full circle, there is the feeling that we have come to a familiar place, but we are somehow different.

Life is a circular journey through our issues and processes, and this is why things that are technically new often seem very familiar. It is also why, whenever we work to release a habit, change a pattern, or overcome a fear, we often encounter that issue one last time, even after we thought we had conquered it. Often, when this happens, we feel defeated or frustrated that after all our hard work we are still dealing with the same problem. 

The reappearance of a pattern, habit, or fear, is often a sign that we have come full circle, and that if we can maintain our resolve through one last test, we will achieve a new level of mastery in our lives. 

When we come full circle, there is often the feeling that we have arrived in a familiar place, but that we ourselves are somehow different. We know that we can handle challenges that seemed insurmountable when we began our journey, and there is the feeling that we might be ready to take on a new problem, or some new aspect of the old problem. We feel empowered and courageous to have taken on the challenge of stopping a pattern, releasing a habit, or overcoming a fear, and to have succeeded. At times like these, we deserve a moment of rest and self-congratulation before we move on to the next challenge.

Coming full circle is like stepping into a clearing where, for a moment, we can see where we came from and where we are standing at the same time. Remembering that we will be tested again is important, but it's also important to pause and take a look at the ground we've covered, honoring our courage, our persistence, and our achievement. 

Then we can begin the next leg of our circular journey with a fuller understanding of where we are coming from. 
Miracles!

Miracles!

By noticing how small things can fill our days with delight, we are more likely to experience the wonder of living

They are the everyday aspects of our lives that bring us the most joy, even if at first it may seem natural to expect our feelings of happiness to come from the larger events in our lives. By noticing how small things can fill our days with delight, we are more likely to experience the wonder of living. Once we take the time to look around and witness the beauty, kindness, and laughter that envelop us, what may seem like the ordinariness of the everyday becomes filled with the extraordinary detail of each individual moment. 

If we bring this sense of awareness to our lives for even a few minutes each day, we will begin to see just how blessed we truly are.
 
Beholding the joy that surrounds us may initially seem easy, but for some it can take a conscious effort to make it a part of a daily routine. When you awake in the morning and set the intention to notice more joy in the world, watch how your day and, eventually, your life are filled with more joy. The more we do this the more apt we will be to notice the sounds of children laughing or the sparkle of dewdrops on a flower petal. 

Allow this joy to fill your heart fully, and from there it will naturally expand to your entire body and then spread to others, giving them joy as well.
 
Taking in the small joys of each day expands our feeling of being connected with the world, especially once we become more attuned to them. With each passing day, we will find that these small delights, which bring a deeper level of appreciation for everything the universe has given to our lives, are miracles.
Honoring All Experiences.

Honoring All Experiences.

Honoring the experiences we have in our lives is an invaluable way to communicate with life, our greatest teacher. We do this when we take time at night to say what we are thankful for about our day and also when we write in a journal. Both of these acts involve consciously acknowledging the events of our lives so that they deepen our relationship to our experiences. This is important because it brings us into closer connection with life, and with the moment. 

Only when we acknowledge what's happening to us can we truly benefit from life's teachings. 

It is especially important when pain comes our way to honor the experience, because our natural tendency is to push it away and move past it as quickly as possible. We tend to want to brush it under the rug. Yet, if we don't, it reveals itself to be a great friend and teacher. As counterintuitive as it seems, we can honor pain by thanking it and by welcoming it into the space of our lives. We all know that often the more we resist something, the longer it persists. 

When we honor our pain, we do just the opposite of resisting it, and as a result, we create a world in which we can own the fullness of what life has to offer.

We can honor a painful experience by marking it in some way, bringing ourselves into a more conscious relationship with it. We might mark it by creating a work of art, performing a ritual, or undertaking some other significant act. Sometimes all we need to do is light a candle in honor of what we've gone through and what we've learned. 

No matter how small the gesture, it will be big enough to mark the ways in which our pain has transformed us, and to remind us to recognize and value all that comes our way in this life. 
In a hurry…? Again???

In a hurry…? Again???

Always being rushed and in a hurry doesn't allow time for the soul to enjoy life, which is composed of small, ordinary moments that can be beautiful

Our lives have become increasingly fast-paced, and the effort to keep up often occupies all our time and attention. We are so busy rushing from point A to point B that we forget to enjoy the ride. We race to the store without noticing the leaves on the trees or the clouds in the sky. We go through the checkout line feeling too pressed to converse with the cashier or the other people in line. At the end of a day filled with this kind of frantic pace, we may begin to wonder what it is we do all these things for, if we don't even have the time to occasionally stop and just take it all in. 

Always being rushed and in a hurry doesn't allow time for the soul to enjoy life, which is composed of small, ordinary moments, like watching snow fall from the sky, having a spontaneous conversation with a stranger, or lingering over a meal for several hours. Small towns and the people who live in them can teach us all a thing or two about living life to the fullest as a daily matter. City people have a tendency to think that their lives are full because they are doing so many different things, but in a small town, there tends to be more time left open to be spontaneous or take an extended moment of rest. This certainly doesn't mean that we can't live in a city and enjoy life fully -- we can and do; it just takes a little more awareness. 

One thing we can do, wherever we live, is bring awareness breaks into our day and take 10 minutes to simply look out the window and observe what's happening outside. We might also choose to cultivate a relationship with someone we see regularly, such as a clerk at the convenience mart or a neighbor. Taking time to have a conversation that is not necessary is a true luxury in this day and age, as is staring out the window. 

Participating in acts of timelessness makes the biggest city in the world start to feel a little bit more like a small town.  
Slowing Down.

Slowing Down.

Take time to slow down, rushing never gets you anywhere but onto the next activity or goal.

Life can often feel like it's zipping by in fast forward. We feel obliged to accelerate our own speed along with it, until our productivity turns into frenzied accomplishment. We find ourselves cramming as much activity as possible into the shortest periods of time. We disregard our natural rhythms because it seems we have to just to keep up. In truth, rushing never gets you anywhere but on to the next activity or goal.  

Slowing down allows you to not only savor your experiences, but also it allows you to fully focus your attention and energy on the task at hand. Moving at a slower place lets you get things done more efficiently, while rushing diminishes the quality of your work and your relationships. Slowing down also lets you be more mindful, deliberate, and fully present. When we slow down, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves to our natural rhythms. We let go of the "fast forward" stress, and allow our bodies to remain centered and grounded. Slowing down is inherent to fully savoring anything in life. Rushing to take a bath can feel like an uncomfortable dunk in hot water, while taking a slow hot bath can be luxuriant and relaxing. A student cramming for a test will often feel tired and unsure, whereas someone who really absorbs the information will be more confident and relaxed. 

Cooking, eating, reading, and writing can become pleasurable when done slowly. Slowing down lets you become more absorbed in whatever it is you are doing. The food you eat tastes better, and the stories you read become more alive. 

Slowing down allows you to disconnect from the frenzied pace buzzing around you so you can begin moving at your own pace. The moments we choose to live in fast forward motion then become a conscious choice rather than an involuntary action. 

Learning to slow down in our fast-moving world can take practice, but if you slow down long enough to try it, you may surprise yourself with how natural and organic living at this pace can be.

Text from Daily Om
Rest To Recover.

Rest To Recover.

When we watched as Simone Biles withdrew from her Olympic competitions, we were shownI a vital lesson: even the strongest of us need time to recover, to rest and recharge. So, as we close out the summer months and the temptation to pick up the pace calls, I am consciously pausing and reminding myself to take note of the lessons I have learned. As Simone said, “We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day, we’re human, too. We have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”

Too often we feel we have to “give it our all” at the expense of our well-being. We’re eager to prove ourselves and show our teams we’re capable and reliable. This became especially true as many people moved to a virtual work environment for the first time and the lines between work and home blurred. For many, the early uncertainty of the pandemic also led to longer days and less time off. With the changing nature of work, it can feel as though this level of exhaustive determination is now just part of the job. If asked how work is going, we say we’re, “giving 110%,” “firing on all cylinders,” and “burning the candle at both ends.” But if we really look at these phrases and consider what they mean, we realize keeping this pace means there will likely be nothing left of us to give — not to work or to any other aspect of life. We end up exhausted, depleted, and burned out — a feeling that is all too familiar for many people. 

Well-being should be a priority in our personal and professional lives if we are to thrive in mind, body, and purpose. Growth requires us to add value, find opportunities, and bring new insights, but rest is required for accessing these skills. We are encouraged to make time for our physical, emotional, and financial well-being, set boundaries, and listen to warning signs instead of ignoring them — tasks we mistakenly think will take away from our focus at work and in life. However, when we carve out this time, we find we have more to give to work and everyone around us.
We all pride ourselves on having a great work ethic. And we’re missing a “rest ethic.” Having a strong work ethic — without a correspondingly strong rest ethic that we take every bit as seriously — is what’s burning us out. We should see time off as an investment into productivity, and into creativity.

It’s so important to commit to recharging our internal batteries regularly. In doing so, we find our reservoir of energy replenished instead of drained and we’re able to bring more passion to all that we do. Yes, our daily demands are calling but we’ll never achieve the growth we are seeking by simply “powering through” them. Instead, we should make real time to unplug and reset. 

So, while our work calendar fills up with engagements, client meetings, and travel (maybe), also find time to enjoy what’s left of our warm summer days — because the time spent on our own rest and recovery is just as important for our collective growth and success. 
When Your Body Tells to Slow Down.

When Your Body Tells to Slow Down.

It’s only natural to feel stressed from time to time. When we do, it’s important to address the feeling head-on. When we ignore our bodies’ signs that tell us to slow down, our stress can build up and eventually escalate, which can lead to burnout.  

Thrive asked its community to share with us the little hints from their bodies that tell them it’s time to slow down. Which of these signs are you experiencing?

You’re having trouble focusing 

“If I notice I’m having difficulty focusing during the morning, and by noon I’m reaching for more coffee to wake up, I know I’m trying to do too much. When I notice it, I step away from everything and set my timer on my phone for three minutes to do some alternate nostril breathing. This strategy increases my energy and ability to focus.”

—Kristin Meekhof, author and life coach, Royal Oak, MI

You feel sore and achy

“Over the years, I have been more mindful about the clues my body is trying to tell me. One physical sign that I need to slow down is tension in my upper body, especially in my neck. When that happens, I know that I need to amp up with my self-care. Some of my favorite activities are walking and listening to a guided meditation. There’s something about being outdoors while getting some movement that feels both rejuvenating and relaxing to me.”

—Pamela Biasca Losada, health coach, Pittsburgh, PA

You’re more cranky than usual

“I get cranky when I’m overworked or feel stressed. I know I can’t put a finger on one single trigger and that’s a signal to slow down. I either take a nap or call up a friend who makes me feel better. After that, I  give myself some breathing space to relax.”

—Aakriti Agarwal, psychologist and coach, Hyderabad, India

Your eye is twitching

“I get a little eye twitch when my body hasn’t had enough rest, whether it was a busy work week or I had loads of home commitments. I used to power through the twitches during the week and try to sleep in on the weekends. What works better for me now is to commit to going to bed 20 minutes earlier for a few days. My body still wakes at the usual time it needs to wake, and the little extra time slowly gets me back on track.”

—Donna Peters, executive coach and MBA faculty, Atlanta, GA

Your neck feels stiff

“One small way my body tells me to slow down is when I feel tension at the base of my neck. The tension is the warning signal, but if I ignore it, the tension can turn into a knot. The inflammation surrounding the knot feels like a throbbing pain, making it unbearable to work at my desk or sleep peacefully. To ease my stress levels, I’ve rearranged my schedule to incorporate more mindfulness exercises throughout my day. I begin my day with meditation, prayer, and gratitude journaling. And midway through my schedule, I take a walk outside to reconnect with nature.”

—Karla J. Noland, personal development and executive coach, Durham, N.C.

You’re especially tired

“I know my body needs serious rest when I start to feel full-body fatigue and aches, that no amount of coffee can fix. When I start feeling this way, I try to find time for a nap during the day and go to bed early for the next few nights.”

—Holly Fowler, health coach, Los Angeles, CA

Your stomach is hurting

“When I feel stressed or overwhelmed, my tummy starts feeling uncomfortable. This is a signal for me to step away from my desk, go on a short walk, change scenery, and be conscious about taking deep breaths. Being in tune with my body helps me stay productive throughout the day.”

—Isabelle Bart, social impact coach, Orange County, CA

You feel pressure in your head

“It’s really obvious when my body tells me to slow down. My shoulders tighten like a vice until it feels like my head might pop right off! Whenever I begin to feel this way, there is one solution that is free, easy, and always works: sunlight. When I step outside and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, it lowers my stress and recharges me. On days when it is cloudy, I supplement this by breathing in fresh air, which has a similar effect.”

—Joe Kwon, author, Oakland, N.J.

You’re more clumsy than usual

“When I start dropping things, I realize I’m in too much of a hurry. There is no such thing as multitasking. It’s just task shifting when I do that I drop things. I slow down and get more methodical when this happens. I also drop the ‘things’ that are extraneous or too strenuous on my body, mind, and spirit. It’s a reminder for me to slow down without distractions.”

—Mary Joye, licensed mental health counselor, FL

You feel like you’re in “fight or flight” mode

“Last Tuesday was a great example of recognizing my body’s needs. I had a stressful morning at work as I needed to find a solution for an urgent problem. I succeeded but my body was in fight or flight mode for a few hours afterward. I felt like after a few coffees, my breath was shallow, and I started having a headache. This is a typical stress response for me. In these moments, I choose to push back my meetings and take care of myself first. Meditation at the beach and cold dips have helped me to release the tension.”

—Paulina Kabaczuk, manager, Sydney, Australia

Text from Thrive
Presence Rather Than Productivity.

Presence Rather Than Productivity.

When we slow down and turn inward, we're able to better optimize our time and manage our priorities.

There is a better way to rethink your relationship to productivity, sustainability, and a world in flux. And guess what? It’s right in front of you.

For starters: Imagine for a moment that rather than optimizing for productivity, we optimized for presence. (Lest you worry this sounds a bit woo-woo for your business, career, or lifestyle, I assure you it is not.) Allow me to explain. 

The old script, or the way we have been largely accustomed to viewing the world, is obsessed with optimizing for speed, efficiency, and productivity. If you can shave five seconds off your daily routine, or cram one more call into a jam-packed afternoon, that’s victory. 

For a long time, even after I’d started writing my new script, I didn’t question this busyness. I went along with it, on extra-busy days even joyfully. But the more I observed, the more undeniable the disconnect was. And when I slowed down to deepen my observation, I was dumbfounded. Hold on: What are we really doing? How in the world have we persuaded one another—and ourselves— that more meetings will somehow make our legacy more important? How have we convinced ourselves that saving five minutes will somehow save our soul? 

With the new script, rather than measure meetings, you can gauge presence: your ability to be fully in a moment, experience, or decision. One meeting in which everyone is fully present is worth more than a thousand meetings in which people are distracted. 

Ultimately, presence is about attention and response. These things are different, yet closely related: you respond to what you’re paying attention to. When you’re running fast, you’re unable to pay full attention. When you’re scattered, you pay attention to the wrong things, which often botches your response. 

The crux of the solution to our obsession with speed is simple: slowing down improves your chances of getting the issue and your response right. But that’s not all: you discover that time is what you perceive it to be. When you slow down, you actually have more time. When you have more time, you can be fully present.

So how does one learn to optimize for presence? Fortunately, there are many ways to begin. Some may seem mundane and others quirky. Try whichever ones pique your interest, without overthinking! I find that the more bizarre a new practice seems, the more off-kilter the current habits usually are. 

Stillness practice: Start with thirty seconds, then one minute, two minutes, up to five minutes (or longer) of utter stillness. This is not meditation; it is even simpler. It’s sitting, stilling your mind, and seeing where it wanders. Don’t judge; just notice. Is your mind able to unwind, or does it speed up? 

Silence practice: Silence—whether the silence of nature or the silence at the end of a breath cycle (kumbhaka)— helps quiet the mind. Silence can be found almost anywhere: you may have to search a bit, but it is there. Find five minutes to bathe in silence daily. Pay attention to the emptiness. Notice what hangs in the space between you and sound. What is it calling you towards? 

Patience practice: Cultivating patience is one of the most difficult yet most powerful ways to run slower. Pick something that you know will take time—say, waiting for an appointment—and deliberately don’t fill that waiting time with social media apps, calls, word games, or whatever else. Just be . . . and wait. Do you feel tested, or freed? 

Not-to-do (or to-don’t) list: To-do lists help us run faster and stay on the hamster wheel. A not-to-do list does the opposite. Draft both versions and see which one feels more fluxy. (I find that a combination of both can work well, so long as what’s on my to-do list actually matters.) 

Micro-sabbaticals: Brainstorm a list of opportunities to pause, whether for a moment or for a month. The simple act of drawing up this list can help relieve tension. It creates a sense of space rather than rushing and serves as a reminder of the many shapes of slowing down. 

Nature bathing: Nature is a microcosm of constant change and an unparalleled tutor for running slower. Find the nearest spot of wilderness—a forest, lake, or open field—and absorb the environment through all five senses. This isn’t hiking, birding, or camping; this is simply being in nature. The Japanese call this shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing.”(1 )

Technology Shabbat: Once a week, disconnect from the use of all technology with screens: smartphones, computers, tablets, and television.(2) If that feels like too much, start with a few hours and build up to a day. Use the time for quiet personal reflection, perhaps with an old-school pen and paper. 

Running slower shifts your focus of attention from outside to inside, with a goal to really listen to what’s going on internally. 

PROTECT THE ASSET 

The first time I heard this phrase was in China, listening to a panel of international entrepreneurs who had experienced massive health scares talk about coping when health thwarts your best-laid plans. The punchline was: no matter what your mindset, your body still keeps the score.(3) We can’t simply keep treating conditions like exhaustion, anxiety, and burnout by exercising and eating better. We must address the underlying sources of these conditions and meaningfully, consistently slow down. 

“Protecting the asset” acknowledges that when your mind is wound up, your body is wound up too, and neither functions well. Grooving a healthier mindset also requires addressing the somatic aspects of one’s relationship with speed. And there is no way for anyone to heal at speed. Quite the contrary: running ever faster ultimately kills. So we must slow down. 

The first step in protecting the asset is assessing how your body is holding onto, and embodying, speed. I think of this as a micro health check-in with myself. How am I feeling? Which parts of my body are racing? Which are speaking up, and what are they saying? 

Your most powerful somatic tool is your breath. It’s like a Swiss army knife, because it does so much. It is also the bridge between your inner and outer worlds, between body and mind. As you navigate constant change, a committed breathing practice—even a few minutes a day—becomes essential. 

There are a range of simple, yet powerful personal exercises and habits that can help you run slower and protect the asset: eating slower to thoroughly notice and relish each bite, walking slower to pay attention to the details on your path, slowing down the pace of travel by choosing options like walking instead of driving, and dancing rather than walking to your destination.  

Running slower helps you think slower and delay judgment, both of which empower you to manage your time—rather than time managing you—and bring your best self to life. 

On average, bad things happen fast and good things happen slow.

Text by Stewart Brand