Ponder

SLOW IS BEAUTIFUL 

Gandhi discovered There is more to life than increasing its speed. And I think this is just beautiful. And slow is beautiful. Some things cannot and should not be sped up. They take time, they need slowness.

Have you heard about the slow movement? I know (and confirmed it through my reads) that it actually started in the city of Bra, Italy with the Slow Food movement, which supports the idea that eating should be something enjoyable, something cooked and consumed at a relaxed pace. When I was working in telesales, I remember calling clients and leads in Italy, and their lunch time was of 2 hours. Watching Michael Moore’s movie Where to Invade Next, I understood why. They go home to eat with families at lunch, that’s why their lunch time is 2 hours long. How amazing would that be to happen everywhere?

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But there’s no time for that! Our corporate obsessed minds are too busy to waste 2 hours only on lunch! I mean, lunches nowadays have become like skimmed milk – a taste of lunch, to keep you skinny, yet unhealthy, hungry all the time and moody, living with the illusion that you ate well and healthy. We do not have time for our minds to chill. We keep them too busy all the time, and we demand so much of ourselves. Yet, we offer ourselves so little. Because there is no time for that either.

Slow movement is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. On the contrary, the movement is made up of people like you and me, people who want to live better in a fast-paced, modern world. The slow philosophy can be summed up in a single word: balance. Be fast when it makes sense to be fast (like a marathon) and be slow when slowness is called for (like having your lunch peacefully). Seek to live at what musicians call the tempo giusto – the right speed.

The paradox is that slow does not mean slow. Performing a task in a slow manner sometimes brings faster results. It is also possible to do things quickly while maintaining a slow mindset.

I realized that Pond written by Claire Louise Bennett is a tribute to the slow movement. Because reading it, it puts you into that slow frame of mind, when you ponder your thoughts, your sensations, your perceptions, your observations, your actions and your words. Reading Pond is like sunbathing on an island you visit off peak season. You get to see the beauty of the lonely landscape, you get to appreciate it and then you wonder how you could have ever visited that in full crowded season. It’s the same with understanding the slow movement.

You must surrender to it to experiment and you will not wish to go back. I praise the slow and I praise Pond, because with each day that passes, I turn more and more to re-reading sentences in this exceptional book. It might be the fact that it feels as if I give my mind the time to enjoy each word and each logic of the train of thoughts expressed through Claire Louise Bennett’s creative writing skills. In this glorious fast-paced world, my mind has no time to grasp all that it wishes to grasp, because I am forced to hurry up and not stop to ponder or balance the world I see in my brain, I am forced to move on instead of taking it all in, I am forced to let go of things I do not wish to let go. I am told quantity is desirable, ALONG with quality. I question how can you attain 2 opposites. How can you desperately climb a mountain and enjoy the ocean simultaneously? It’s impossible. Yet, corporations and society defies all physics and forces us to convert ourselves into some kind of robots with superpowers, losing our humanity, since that’s not a resource that can make money. Multitasking does. Being paid for 2, 3 or even more jobs in a single low paid one. This is the fast world we live in. We cease to see it because it is not nice to discover you are living a delusion in which you think you are a human with a multitude of by default skills and competencies that you were brought up to take pride in.

We are being convinced it is ok and even desirable to wish to achieve robotic features. We are only convincing our minds about our souls who do not matter anymore.

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Because our souls take joy in the slowness of it all. I believe we will soon move towards the slow world just as we switched to the fast paced one, since there is more to life than increasing its speed. As Claire Louise Bennett puts it in her book: “Beginning very ordinarily, it ought to be said, and then, via a series of protracted yet imperceptible increments, the sky imported the trenchant beauty and dubious brilliance of a new and unnamed world.”

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The art of living consciously

I have listened to an audio book created by Nathaniel Branden, named “The Art of Living Consciously” and I would love to share with you some of its inspirational and motivational insights.

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First of all, in order to live more consciously we need to become aware of the contradictions that happen between our values and our behaviors. The author inspires us to choose sight over blindness, as we become better when we correct our mistakes than when we pretend they did not happen. As one of my favorite authors points it out:

“Facts do not cease to exist just because we choose to ignore them.” Aldous Huxley

Living consciously in an authentic self esteem requires eagerness to discover one’s errors and requires candor about admitting it.

As Maslow pinpoints it:

“There are no perfect human beings.”

If he said that, then we should not focus on trying to achieve perfection. We need to highlight the greatness and uniqueness that can be found within ourselves. We have all been blessed with gifts to share with this world. We simply need to discover those gifts inside our soul and choose to be open about it.

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I have discovered there are 2 traits we hold within ourselves. That is the optimalist who embraces the reality exactly as it is, including its not so good parts (the optimalist knows and he is fine with the fact that reality is not perfect AT ALL) and there is also the perfectionist that denies completely the reality and chases an impossible idea of mistake free perfectionism. These 2 aspects coexist within ourselves and we shift from one to another, depending on the situations we encounter and live in.

The challenge is to move from the situational perfectionism to the overall attitude of optimalism. As Carl Rogers invites us to think about it:

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”

Another highlight would be to focus more on doing what works and less on what it does not work. One of the ideas of living consciously is to pay attention to what works and be captured by the principle in such way that you are able to multiply it and expand it to other situations and you are then able to do more stuff that works.

What do you do that really works for you? 

What is it that you do and it makes your life flow? 

What do you do that does not work for you? It is another important question to think about.

So the most important questions in this book are:

  1. What’s the number one thing that I can start doing consistently that would have the most positive impact on my life ?
  2. What is the number one thing that I can stop doing and that would have the most positive impact on my life ?

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Happiness is the experience of climbing the peek. So enjoy your road. That is why it is important to chose a road you like, a road you feel you would work hard on to reach a certain destination. But because the journey is long, you must enjoy yourselves during it and you must enjoy the road. Choose wisely, as you may not have time to go back the road and choose another path.

There is a very specific lesson I heard about in this book – that is – Be nice to yourself. When you are chasing perfectionism in everything that you, you tend to be ruthless on yourself, to punish yourself or postpone a certain kindness you wanted to treat yourself with. That is why it is important to give up perfectionism and focus on loving who you are now (as everything that happened to you so far, defines you) and be nice to yourself.

There are many books and many articles about surrendering your ego, about dissolving it as it hurts us.

I do not agree with it. (Click me!)

Freud said that the mind is divided into 3 parts: the ego (the conscious rational self), the superego (the conscious sometimes too rigid, committed to the rules of society part of the self) and the id (the desire for pleasure)

The ego is the driver that balances the lusty impulses of the id with the overbearing conditioning of the superego. In this metaphor (the horse ridden by a human with his father behind) the ego is the man, the id is the horse and the superego is the father, therefore a healthy ego is an absolute requirement to being a healthy fully functioning human being. Why ? Because if the man does not pay attention to the horses impulses to run and to his fathers overwhelming signs of how to ride the horse, how to make it obey without enslaving the horse, the man would not be able to ride it. We need to balance our impulses and our rigid thinking about our impulses. For this we have to strengthen the ego, not to dissolve it. 

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To strengthen our egos, we should be more kind to ourselves. We should say thank you to ourselves more often (Kindly listen to this song here to love yourself more and be grateful for who you are now), we should be more engaged in our commitment to truly appreciate what we can do. As I would put it, through Maslow’s pyramid needs, in order to self realize yourself, you need shelter, food, water, a job, and then, you will be safe enough and clear enough to consider how to fulfill your life and help others do the same. You cannot ride a horse if you have a wounded leg or if you need food to have energy to ride it. As a comparison, you cannot teach someone to swim if you do not know how to.

That is why it is important to be good to yourself. If not you, who then ? 

The last important lesson of this book is to understand that your life, your time on this Earth is important.

The realization of what is noble within you is the ultimate goal you can achieve. That is self-realization.

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There is nothing you can do that is more important than being fulfilled. You become a sign, you become a signal, transparent to transcendence. In this way, you will find, live and become a realization of your own personal myth.

Start now and answer the two questions – and follow the above guidelines to become more aware of living consciously. You will enjoy this article as well to enhance the information you just read.