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Book review: In Praise of Slow, by Carl Honore

Sit back, put your hands behind your head, take some deep breaths, and relax.

I’d like to take this opportunity, in a leisurely fashion, to tell you about a lovely book I’ve just read: In Praise of Slow, by Carl Honore.

He’s a family man, and the idea for the book – and the talks – came to him when he came across a ‘one-minute bedtime story’ for harried parents. His first thought was that it was a good idea. His second thought was that something was going seriously wrong.

The book takes a meandering look at the various slow movements – Slow Food, Slow Sex, Slow Cities, Slow Work. He reminisces about being young and simply lying on a bench, completely in the moment, watching the world go by. Compare that with our experience today, in a queue, feeling completely uncomfortable about standing there doing nothing, and our obsession with getting things done.

“In the race to keep up everything suffers, and anything that slows us down is our enemy.” Isn’t that just the truth? But why are we so dead set against being slowed down, when slowing down is actually both enjoyable and good for us?

This book inspired me to look again at how I live and work. In my working life, every second is accounted for. Even a chat with a friend is done with one eye on the clock. If you’re not careful, work can become a constant stream of deadlines which creep into your life, even when you’re supposedly relaxing.

There’s nothing wrong with having deadines, but the important thing is knowing when to take a step back and realise sometimes there is absolutely no need to rush. This then gives you a stronger connection to life and living and the chance to focus on the important things.

Internet and email have made things worse and worse – we can see the effects of this when the technology goes wrong and we get so frustrated. As soon as something goes wrong, if we allow it, it can ruin our day. But sometimes this can be a positive thing, freeing us up to do something more in-depth or creative.

Those big, creative ideas come when you’ve made space and time in your life to relax and clear your mind. I hope you’ll be inspired to take a break and get into a different kind of space today, where there is more clarity and the ideas are better. I’ll see you there!