Life Health

PROULX: Learn to live in the slow lane

Shaun Proulx says we should all learn to slow down. GETTY

Shaun Proulx says we should all learn to slow down. GETTY

SHAUN PROULX/ 24 HOURS

Last week, cancelled flights thwarted a weekend away in New York with my boyfriend. We stayed home. Almost no one knew we were still in Toronto. The slow, delicious unfolding of three days with no plans, obligations or commitments was shockingly delightful.

It was refreshing not to be busy ... to just ... be. It was glorious to take off the badge of honour that being busy has become.

Our society glorifies busyness. Being "exhausted" and "having no time" are seen as signs of success and worthiness. And so our work lives bleed into our private time. We strive to do it all - to get 'er done - and yet, we have no idea what the word monotask means.

We arrive late, harried and we complain about how little sleep we get. We stare into our phones instead of into the eyes of the person we're in conversation with. We give away the only evening in a week we have to ourselves - with zero hesitation - the moment we're asked. Our hearts leap when we discover we've got Wi-Fi so we can check in on emails, work, social media, and react to it all - rather than sit quietly offline. Parents stay busy managing the after-school lives of their even busier children, while others see their weekends fly by with social plans so aplenty they're now booking into September.

And when we do vacay, we don't actually take a break on holiday - we just work harder and longer before and after so we can justify taking time off. Even walking the dog becomes time to make to-do lists and calls, rather than enjoying the stroll. Then we compare our busy with the busy of those around us. As if competing for the title of "busiest ever" is our most important accomplishment. Alas, it usually takes becoming ill (or cancelled flights) for us to slow down and be. If you like the idea of doing less so to create a richer life, here are five other steps to take: 1 Redefine what success means to you When you die, no one will talk about how much money you made, how many hours you worked or how packed your calendar was. They'll only remember how you made them feel.

2 "Work harder" is no longer a modern concept Most times, doing so only leads to burnout, from which you then need to ... work harder?... to recover from. Ask yourself how much hard work is enough and start calling a day before dark.

3 More 'me' time Meditation, spa visits, art galleries, hikes, writing that book, reading that book, a sommelier class - whatever it takes to put yourself first for once so you feel joy, relaxed, and well, begin to implement it into your life. And if anyone says you're selfish, inform them you are self-FULL.

4 Digital detox Challenge your loved ones to turn their phones off when you are together. And you, too. Be 100% engaged with whomever you are with.

5 Be a kid Start a snowball fight, get your hands dirty with a DIY project, turn on some music and dance, break a rule, crank call your mother. Whatever makes you ugly snort from laughing so hard, do.

Meanwhile, if anybody asks, I'm in New York again this weekend.