In this episode we discuss how to beat FOMO - the Fear of Missing Out. How do you overcome the emotional barriers and fears of missing out and saying no to things? How do you get over the awful feeling of turning down opportunities? We share simple actionable strategies for you to say yes to yourself and for you to say yes to what’s really important and actually matters in your life. We share a great strategy you can use to make a huge difference in your life in two minutes or less and we dig into the important concept that in a world drunk on speed, slowness is a superpower - all that much more with our guest Carl Honoré.
Carl Honoré is a bestselling author, broadcaster and the creator of the Slow Movement. His TED talk on the benefits of slowing down has been viewed 2.6 million times. Carl has spoken all over the world to audiences ranging from business leaders and entrepreneurs to teachers, academics and medical practitioners. He is the author of In Praise of Slow, Under Pressure, The Slow Fix, and most recently Bolder. His books have been translated into 35 languages and been on the bestseller’s list of as many countries.
The world is speeding up and speeding up - how do we deal with the constantly accelerating pace of change and the rush for speed?
We need to reconnect with our inner tortoise more urgently than ever before
Sometimes faster is better, but sometimes there are times to slow down, too
“Forget frantic acceleration, mastering the clock of business means choosing when to be fast, and when to be slow."
Slowness has an important role to play in today’s world
Do you suffer from FOMO? Are you like a hamster on a wheel trying to do, learn, experience and achieve as much as possible as quickly as possible?
By becoming a hamster on a wheel you end up missing EVERYTHING and getting NOTHING and skimming the surface of life.
“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” - Warren Buffet
"You can have anything you want but you can’t have everything” - Ray Dalio
How do you get over the emotional barriers and fears of missing out and saying no to things?
Take one thing off your to-do list each day and put that item on your “not to do” list
How do you get over the awful, strangulating panic of saying no to other people and saying no to opportunities?
By saying NO, you say YES to something much more important - your really important priorities and goals
By not saying no, you’re really saying no to the things that matter most to you - you’re saying no to yourself
You have to cultivate a long term perspective.
The things that eat up SO MUCH of your time are often things that are not important in the long run, and yet they crowd out what actually us.
Ask yourself - will this matter on my deathbed?
How do you start saying YES to yourself?
The most creative minds, the people who’ve gotten the most done throughout history are the people who understand the power of MOMENTS OF QUIET.
You will be more engaged, more switched on, more effective when you are in fast mode, when you take the time to have moments of quiet.
People who slow down are better able to deal with speed and a fast paced world than people who try to keep pace.
In a world drunk on speed, slowness is a superpower.
Human beings aren’t meant to be stuck constantly in roadrunner mode.
Sometimes you can get things done more quickly when you slow down.
A small injection of slowness can make a huge difference in your day, your week, or your year.
How 2 Minutes doing this one simple thing can make a HUGE difference in your creative thinking when dealing with a big problem.
When you slow down, you get more done.
Multi tasking is nonsense, the human mind cannot multitask.
A “fast” multi-tasker will take twice as long and make twice as many mistakes as a slow “mono-tasker"
"Slow is smooth, smooth is fast."
When you move too fast everything becomes a blur and nothing remains with you. It harms your memory. There’s an intimate bond between memory and slowness.
There is no such thing as a quick fix. Slow fixes actually work.
“There’s nothing worse than a quick fix."
When a quick fix blows up later on, sometimes we’re forced to spend the time and money to get it right the second time. Invest that time and money now on a real solution.
What does it mean to be aging in a world that is obsessed with youth?
We are in the “golden age of aging” - there’s never been a better time in human history to be aging
What are some of the benefits of getting older?
At 20 we worry about what other people think of us, at 40 we stop worrying about what other people think of us, at 60 we realize that they were never thinking of us at all.
How do you deal with facing your own mortality as you get older?
Homework: Do less. Look at your to do list and start cutting things out of it. Drop one thing a day and let more oxygen into your schedule.
Homework: Create time where you aren’t reachable and can unplug from gadgets. Turn your smartphone into a tool instead of a weapon of mass distraction.
Homework: Integrate some kind of slow practice into your day. Meditate, cook, go for a walk. Anything that can inoculate you against the virus of hurry.
Thank you so much for listening!
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This week's episode of The Science of Success is presented by Dr. Aziz Gazipura's Confidence University!
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Want To Dig In More?! - Here’s The Show Notes, Links, & Research
TED Speaker Profile
The Australian Financial Review - “Author Carl Honoré: stop whingeing about ageing, start winning at getting older” by Jill Margo
Noted - “Carl Honoré: 'Mortality gives ageing a bad name'” by Lynn Freeman
Bolder Book Site
Kinfolk - “An Interview with Carl Honoré” by Georgia Frances King
The Time UK - “Review: Bolder: Making the Most of Our Longer Lives by Carl Honoré — skipping towards the knacker’s yard” by John Sutherland
Sloww - “All the Ingredients from “The Slow Fix” by Carl Honore (Book Summary)” by Kyle Kowalski
Sloyu - “Interview Carl Honoré, ambassador for the Slow Movement” by Joost Scharrenberg
The Guardian - “Recession? The perfect time to slow down” by Carl Honore
[Podcast] Technology for Mindfulness - Ep. 14 - Carl Honore, “Slow Movement” Global Spokesman
[Podcast] Speaking Business Podcast - Carl Honoré - Go Slow
[Podcast] Keep Your Daydream - Ep #66 The Slow Movement with TED speaker Carl Honore
[Podcast] Every Woman - THE DELICIOUS PARADOX OF ‘SLOW’ IN THE WORKPLACE WITH CARL HONORÉ
[Podcast] Productivityist - Bolder with Carl Honoré
Carl’s YouTube Channel
Book Trailer: BOLDER: MAKING THE MOST OF OUR LONGER LIVES
Most viewed: Pace of Life: Britain versus Denmark
2nd most viewed: Carl Honoré talks hyperparenting on Oregon Breakfast TV
TED-Ed: Praising slowness - Carl Honore
The RSA - The Slow Revolution
Autism’s Individual - Review of in Praise of Slow, by Carl Honore
Speaker’s Spotlight - Reel clip Thinking slow and smart | Carl Honoré
Bolder: RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK by Carl Honoré
In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert M Pirsig
Science of Success Meditation Episodes
[00:00:04.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success. Introducing your host, Matt Bodnar.
[0:00:11.8] MB: Welcome to the Science of Success; the number one evidence-based growth podcast on the internet with more than three million downloads and listeners in over a hundred countries.
In this episode, we discuss how to beat FOMO, the fear of missing out. How do you overcome the emotional barriers and fears of missing out and saying no to things? How do you get over the awful feeling of turning down people and opportunities? We share, simple actionable strategies for you to say yes to yourself and for you to say yes to what's really important and what actually matters in your life. We share a great strategy that you can use to make a huge difference in your life in two minutes or less and we dig into the important concept that in a world drunk on speed, slowness can be a superpower. All that and much more with our guest, Carl Honore.
I’m going to tell you why you’ve been missing out on some incredibly cool stuff if you haven’t signed up for our e-mail list yet. All you have to do to sign up is to go to successpodcast.com and sign up right on the home page.
On top of tons subscriber-only content, exclusive access and live Q&As with previous guests, monthly giveaways and much more, I also created an epic free video course just for you. It's called How to Create Time for What Matters Most Even When You're Really Busy. E-mail subscribers have been raving about this guide.
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Sign up for my e-mail list today by going to successpodcast.com and signing up right on the home page, or if you're on the go, if you're on your phone right now, it's even easier. Just text the word “smarter”, that's S-M-A-R-T-E-R to the number 44-222. I can't wait to show you all the exciting things you'll get when you sign up and join the e-mail list.
In our previous episode, we discussed cutting-edge brain hacks that sound they're straight out of science fiction. Is it possible to use technology to rapidly change the structure of your brain? How does your brain actually learn? What is neuroplasticity and why is it so important? What are the key things that you can do in your life to improve your brain health, memory and your performance? We discussed all of this along with a truly innovative technology that may be the key to unlocking super performance and massively accelerating your learning with our previous guest, Dr. Daniel Chao.
Now for our interview with Carl.
[0:03:22.0] MB: Today, we have another exciting guest on the show, Carl Honore. Carl is a best-selling author, broadcaster and the creator of the Slow Movement his TED talk on the benefits of slowing down has been viewed more than two and a half million times. He’s spoken all over the world to audiences ranging from business leaders and entrepreneurs, to teachers, academics and medical practitioners. He's the author of In Praise of Slow, Under Pressure, The Slow Fix, and most recently, Bolder. His books have been translated in over 35 languages and he's been on the bestseller list of many different countries. Carl, welcome to the Science of Success.
[0:03:57.3] CH: Thanks very much, Matt. Good to be with you.
[0:03:58.9] MB: Well, we're really excited to have you on the show today. We're big fans of your work and your message, so I can't wait to dig in and share some of these ideas with the audience.
[0:04:07.1] CH: Looking forward to it.
[0:04:08.6] MB: To begin, I'd love to start just with the idea of slowness. The funny thing is your original TED talk in the book came out almost 15 years, like it was 15 years ago at this point, 2004/2005 area. Yet, the world if anything since then has at least from my perspective, probably sped up even more. People are so obsessed with speed. If you thought they were obsessed with speed in 2005, it's probably another level today. How do you think about the obsession that our society has with speeding up and trying to condense everything and do so much so quickly?
[0:04:42.0] CH: Well, I do think that over the last 15 years in many ways, society has accelerated. Our experience of time has shrunk in a way that feeling of every moment of the day being a dash to the finish line that we never ever, ever seemed to reach and I think is even more acute now than it was when my first book came out.
I'm an optimist and I've been the center of this slow culture quake now for a decade and a half. I see a whole other side to the equation. There's another counter-current of people of all stripes raising the flag of slowness and saying, “Okay, things are getting faster.” That actually means we need to reconnect with our inner tortoise, if you like, more urgently than ever before.
I look back now to when my first book came out, all those years ago, and I mean, I'm just amazed by how far this slow idea has spread across the globe. It’s really infiltrated pretty much every field of human endeavor. There are now movements for you name it; from slow travel, slow fashion, through slow sex, slow technology, slow architectures slow education, slow food of course was there at the outset.
It seems to me that we've got the two tracks going here; one is the acceleration of everything and at the same time, this counter-current for slowing things down. Where that will go? I don't have a crystal ball. I don't know what point we’ll reach a stage when we actually stop trying to accelerate everything obsessively and start embracing the idea that sometimes slower is better. Because of course, this whole slow philosophy is not some wild extremist, fundamentalist reaction. You know what? I love speed, right? I'm not acting fast. Sometimes faster is better. We all know that. This slow creed is about doing things at the right speed, so understanding that sure, there are times to be fast, but there are also times to slow things down and that there are lots of different rhythms and paces and speeds and velocities and tempos to play within between. I think to me, slow is a mindset. It's about doing quality over quantity. It's about doing one thing at a time, which is so wildly against the zeitgeist at the moment.
It's ultimately about doing things not as fast as possible, but as well as possible. It's essence at its core, that's a very simple idea, a revolutionary one. Once you take that idea of trying to arrive at each moment, striving to live that moment, or do that task as well as possible instead of as fast as possible, then everything changes and everything gets a whole lot better, which is why I feel much less like a voice in the wilderness today than I did 15 years ago, because more and more people in every walk of life are waking up to the folly of doing everything in fast-forward and increasingly looking for ways to slow down.
That's from Silicon Valley and Wall Street, some of the fastest places on earth, to some of the slowest; yoga retreats and everyone in between I think is waking up to the need to find another gear, right? A slower gear.
[0:07:36.5] MB: Well, I think that's a great point, this idea that sometimes faster is better, but also sometimes it's really important to slow down as well.
[0:07:43.9] CH: Exactly. I stress, this is something that applies to absolutely everything. I'll give you an example, even in the workplace. I mean, we think of the workplace as being – and I think we're possibly rightly, the hardest nut to crack when it comes to selling the idea that slower is sometimes better, it's woven into our business vernacular. We talk about you snooze, you lose, the early bird catches the worm, lunch is for wimps, all these phrases that come bombarding at us from every angle, that reinforce the idea that faster is the only way forward. There's only one gear at work and that gear is turbo. If you slow down, you're roadkill.
Increasingly, people are waking up and realizing that actually, you need to slow down at work. There was a big survey done by The Economist magazine recently, where they investigated the pace of the modern workplace. The economists, they crunch the numbers, they go through the data they get down into the trenches and they really look at what's happening out there. The Economist came to a very clear conclusion; the final two lines in fact of that survey from The Economist magazine were forget frantic acceleration, mastering the clock of business means choosing when to be fast and when to be slow, right? There it is in a nutshell, the slow philosophy in action in the workplace. That's the Economist magazine, right?
It’s not Buddhist Monthly and it's not Acupuncture Weekly, right? It's the in-house bible of the go-getters, the most ambitious, entrepreneurial, successful and maybe even type-A people on the planet. They are coming to the same conclusion that I came to years go, and more and more people are arriving at, which is this slowness, has a role to play in the 21st century. You need different gears. You can't just have one gear.
[0:09:24.4] MB: You said something a minute ago as well that made me think of this, of slowing down and doing things. I'm probably going to paraphrase you, but doing things right or doing things well, I think is what you said, as opposed to just doing them as quickly as possible. That made me think of, I don't know if you've ever read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but it really makes me think of that idea of quality from that book, which is a really important and powerful theme.
[0:09:45.1] CH: Yeah. I read that book many moons ago. It does echo through this slow revolution. It's very much people use different language to describe often the same thing. It's about being present, or in the moment, or something as simple as doing one thing at a time, instead of multitasking your way through stuff. Ultimately, it is about re-establishing quality before quantity. It's tricky for us, because we live in a world that has become a smorgasbord, an enormous, infinite buffet of things to do, eat, consume, experience. The natural human instinct is to want to do it all, right? To have it all, right? To just wolf your way right through that buffet.
That makes it difficult for us to enjoy. We all have that experience of being at a buffet, eating too fast, eating too much, not really enjoying it, coming out feeling a little bit stomach achy. I think that's a metaphor a little bit for the way we live much of our lives. We just gorge. We're always trying to cram more and more into less and less time.
That backfires because it means that we're racing through our lives, instead of living them. We're putting quantity before quality. I think increasingly, that's why people are saying, “Whoa, I'm not actually living this. I'm just racing and rushing through it.” I think because the taboo against slowness is so deep and so pervasive and so powerful and so toxic, it can make it difficult for us to slow down. We can feel that awful gorging sensation, but then we carry on doing it.
We keep on going fast. We keep on squeezing more and more into our planners, because we're appalled by the very idea of slow. It's a dirty word. Slow is a four-letter word in our culture. It's pejorative. It's a byword for lazy, stupid, unproductive, boring, all the things nobody wants to be. I think that taboo means that even when we yearn to slow down, even when we can feel in our bones it would be good for us to put on the brakes just once in a while, we don't do it, because we feel ashamed, or guilty, or afraid, or just we've lost a habit, inertia.
[0:11:55.2] MB: Such a great perspective and a way to think about it. I love the analogy of a buffet and an endlessly stuffing yourself, because life is filled with infinite options, infinite opportunities, so many things that are interesting and exciting. I mean, I feel this pole every single day. There's so much I want to do, so much I want to read, so much I want to experience and it's hard to cut back and make those choices and make those decisions.
[0:12:19.0] CH: Yeah. I mean, we've turned that fact that it's hard into an acronym. We talk about FOMO, right? This awful itching, fear of missing out right. I think that's very much a – I mean, it really sums up a lot of where we are now. We're just constantly running, like hamsters on a wheel, trying not to miss out on the next thing. Of course, the tart and terrible irony is that by becoming a hamster on the wheel and trying to squeeze more and more into every minute, we are actually missing out. We're trying to do way too many things, we end up doing them poorly, not enjoying them, burning ourselves out and skimming the surface of life, rather than digging deep and getting down into the core and the heart of the matter.
People often say to me, “Well, I can feel that I would love to slow down, but I can't slow down, right? If I slow down, life will pass me by.” The opposite is true. Life is actually what's happening right here, right now. If you don't slow down, you will pass it by. It's in a way, this whole slow philosophy is about flipping that round and bringing a different filter to the modern world and saying, well, the modern world is a wonderful thing. I'm not some Luddite who wants to throw away iPhones and have people living on communes.
I love so much about the modern world. I think there's – it can actually be immensely enriching and fun and productive and so on, but only if we bring the right spirit to the table, right? To me, that spirit is this slow idea. You say, okay, the world is this infinite buffet, but I cannot do it all. I'm going to focus on the two or three things that light me up, that put real fire in my belly that have proper meaning for me. Then I'm going to give my time and my full time and attention to those things.
I mean, this idea of missing out, even in the workplace people are trying chronically to do too much and it's backfiring on them, on their quality of life, on their health and their relationships, but it's also making them less effective, right? I mean, there's a wonderful quote, I think which is also a reflection of this slow rethink that's going on from Warren Buffett, the legendary investor. He once said, the difference between successful people and very successful people is very successful people say no to almost everything, right?
In my book, In Praise of Slow, could easily have been called in praise of no, right? Because we've got to bring back the art of saying no, of drawing lines in the sand and saying up to here and no further. That the things that we do do, we get the most out of, right?
[0:14:47.0] MB: That's a great quote from Buffett and reminds me of another really good quote from another hedge fund billionaire, Ray Dalio, which is you can have anything you want in life, but you can't have everything. That makes me think of this idea of saying no. How do we start to overcome the emotional barrier, the fear, the resistance of saying no to things?
[0:15:09.3] CH: It's not easy. I'm Pollyanna utopian. These things take a long time to get over, right? I think that we are marinated in this culture of speed and we're completely infested with the idea that there's only one answer to these questions, which is yes, and you can never say no. It's a process, right?
Whenever you're overcoming any addiction, and I don't use that word lightly. I do think we're addicted to speed, to distraction, to stimulation, to doing more and more all the time, it's a process, right? It's baby steps. You've got to take steps. Then maybe you’ll have two steps forward, you might have one step back. I always recommend that people run little trial-and-error projects, right? Rather than saying, “Tomorrow, I'm going to morph into the Dalai Lama, or I'm going to live that Warren Buffett quote, or the Dalio quote in every moment of my life for the rest of my days on the earth.” I mean, that's just not going to happen. You've got to nudge yourself there gently and know that sometimes you're going to fall off the wagon and then you're going to get back on again.
Maybe start off with a plan next week to take one thing off your to-do list every day. Just one thing. You'd be surprised how easy it is to do that. Often, our to-do list looks like it needs more hours to get more stuff in, but actually often, we're just stuffing it with filler, right? Stop, pause, think what's really important to you and let one thing go a day. Put that on a not to-do list. At the end of the week, look back and see well, what did that feel like? Did that work? Did the sky fall in because I said no once a day?
Then often, it's helpful as well to have that not to-do list in your back pocket. Look at it a month later, because often in the moment when we say no to something, we do have that awful strangulating panic that you think, “Oh, no. I can't say no. I'll lose this relationship. This job will go up in smoke. I'll fail. I’ll fall behind. The end of the world is nigh if I say no.” When in fact, it's just the panic of the moment. If you look at the not to-do list, the thing you did say no to today four weeks from now and think back, you'll think, “Well, why did I worry so much about it? I'd forgotten about that thing. Anyway, it wasn't that important.” Sometimes giving yourself that bigger perspective time-wise, looking back on the moment later can help you reset, reboot yourself, relearn that art of using time more wisely, so that you're not constantly falling into that trap of saying yes, yes, yes, becoming a yes man, or a yes woman.
Nobody likes or admires a yes man, or a yes woman. Yet in a way, we're all – we've all become yes man and yes women, right? Because we're just constantly saying, “Yes. More, more. More more and then more.”
[0:17:37.7] MB: Bringing back something you said a few minutes ago, which is so important to underscore all of this, if you don't say no to some things, you end up slowly diluting and diluting and diluting and ruining, impairing your experience of everything ultimately. Only by saying no to what really matters, almost really important, can we start to carve out the space and the experience for the really rich, meaningful things that are beyond as you put it just the surface of life.
[0:18:04.6] CH: Exactly. In fact, what we're talking about there is reframing. In a way, you're not saying no, or you are saying no, but in saying no, what you really do is saying yes to something else. You're saying no to something that four weeks from now, you probably won't even remember anyway, to something in the now that is immensely important to you, that you may remember four, or five years, decades from now.
I think that may be another way to unpack this problem with no that we have is to say well, maybe this isn't a no, or to have an addendum. You say no and a gentle, polite way to the person, but then explain why you're saying no. “I'm not going to attend this work event, or I'm not going to go out on this social outing. Why? Not because I'm suddenly a rude and angry hermit, but because I'm saying yes to reading bedtime stories to my children, or I'm saying yes to going to read something that will make me a better employee next week.”
I think if we balance out that equation by not stopping with the no, but going to the next stage and saying, “I'm saying no, but I'm also actually at the same time saying yes. I'm saying yes to good things.” Of course again, I think it's so important to think long term. I mean, nobody lies in their deathbed it looks back and thinks, “I wish I'd spent more time on Facebook, or I wish I spent more time in the office.” Yet, all of those things that are vacuuming up so many hours in our day, so many days in our lives, so much of our time, right? Are things are not that important in the long run.
Then a big part of slowing down, I think is pushing pause and saying, “Okay, if I take a deep breath, maybe four or five deep breaths and I'm going to start thinking perhaps for the first time in years about what's really important to me. What am I going to remember and cherish on my deathbed when I look back?” Try to give those things your full time and attention. The other stuff that you know will not be on your radar, certainly will not be part of your deathbed conversation at the end, you can try to phase those things out, however much as possible. Obviously, some things we do now are not that important later on, and not every moment can be charged with deep resonant meaning. Of course, that would be exhausting and probably ultimately, a little bit boring too. You need to have some moments that aren't that important.
Let's try and get the needle more towards the middle, where we have more time, more presence, more energy, right? More love for the things that are really important to us, than the stuff that we won't remember and that's not actually that important.
[0:20:29.5] MB: In some sense, by saying no, or rather by not saying no, what you're really saying no to is yourself and the things that matter to you. We end up putting ourselves off, putting our really important goals off by saying yes to other people when the most important and most powerful thing we can do is say no to them, so we can say yes to ourselves.
[0:20:50.3] CH: Exactly. Often what happens is that we carry on saying no to ourselves and yes to everyone else, until we burn out. We hit a wall, right? Maybe we have some health collapse, or a relationship goes up, or some crisis hits us. Usually after that burnout moment, when you hit rock bottom, we come back to our world in our lives, that's when we start saying yes to ourselves, right?
That's a terrible way to learn that lesson. Much better to learn that lesson before you crash and burn and hit the brick wall and start gently step-by-step, reconfiguring, rejigging so that you're saying more yes to yourself. Or not necessary yourself, because that can sound a little selfish and soul-obsessing; yes to what's important and more no to the stuff that's filler.
Let's be honest, so much of this stuff, if you just pull out your calendar or whatever and look back over the last couple of months, I mean, how much of that stuff really was that important? I mean, very little I think for most of us. Yet, we all have this sense that we're constantly racing the clock. How can we slow down? We actually need more time, right, to squeeze more stuff in. Generally speaking, not, if we’re honest with ourselves.
[0:21:57.3] MB: Such great perspective. I want to come back to something you touched on earlier, this study from The Economist. This is a related topic, but I think a distinct subset of this which I'm a huge proponent of is this idea that often, and Warren Buffett is another great example of somebody who does this, but often taking the time to slow down, to think, to read, to have what I like to call contemplative routines in your life, where you just have space to learn and think and journal, those are some of the most powerful and most effective things you can do from a business perspective.
[0:22:30.8] CH: Yeah, absolutely. People have always known, there’s the most creative minds, the people who've got stuff done throughout human history have always understood the importance of moments of quiet, stillness, reflection, whether they're journaling or going for a walk. I mean, it's just – human beings are not built to be stuck always in roadrunner mode. We know there's the tortoise and the hare; we have a bit of both. You need that tortoise mode, you need the slow mode moments in order to come back to the faster moments, more engaged, switched on, sharper, better able to cope. I mean, the science is showing us that very, very clearly.
I mean, one metaphor that I like best is all the work that's been done on meditation now that they've shown that we know that meditation reduces feelings of stress and sharpens concentration and can boost well-being. It turns out that it also begins to rewire the brain in the sense that it creates more density in the cerebral cortex, gyrification in other words goes up. It turns out that when you have more folds in your cerebral cortex, thanks to meditation, you can actually process information faster, right?
People who slow down with meditation are better able to cope with the fast-moving world, everything's spinning around at a 100 miles an hour around you, than those who never slow down at all, right? Which I think is a very stark way of underlining this basic message of all the work I've been doing for the last 15 years, which is that in order to thrive in a fast world, you have to slow down sometimes, right? Or put it another way, in a world obsessed, drunk on speed, slowness is a superpower.
[0:24:02.9] MB: That's such a powerful way to put it. I couldn't agree more. I mean, I think it's absolutely one of my own superpowers, one of the most important lessons I've ever learned and implemented and I practice every single day in my life is carving out the space and the time to be contemplative and to slow down and to think.
It's funny, because so many people are stuck in a state of permanent reactivity, as you called it, roadrunner mode essentially. Yet, if you even just get 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes a day, or even once a week, what I found is that period starts to create leverage and expand itself. If you have 20 minutes where you stop and think, “Well, what am I doing and why am I doing it and what's really important?” Then you start to change your behavior and then you start to get more and more time that you can actually dedicate towards those things.
[0:24:52.1] CH: Yeah. I mean, this is what you find about – I think this is one of the delicious side effects of slowing down. You can start small and then it begins to percolate and filter into the rest of your life and it becomes almost a mindset. Though you have those slow moments where you're in a quiet place, probably you're looking inside, you're reflecting, you're mulling, you're letting ideas play around the back, but then that intercom that you cultivate allows you to navigate and negotiate all the fast stuff when you come back to it much more serenely, right?
I think of it as the delicious paradox of slow. That by slowing down, sometimes not only do we get better results, but sometimes you get them faster. I mean, you can actually do things more quickly if you've got the slow. It's that gear shifting that goes on it. Another thing that's important to underline here is that I think when people hear about slowing down and the benefits it can bring you in a fast world, they think, “Oh, no. Goodness me. That means I've got to go off to a Tibetan monastery and meditate for nine hours and stuff.” They think it's going to have to be massive amounts of slowness. In fact, often, it's just a small injection of slowness can make a huge difference in your day, your week, your year.
There's one example of a study that I wrote about in my book, The Slow Fix, found that when people in the workplace are confronted by a complex problem, if they take two minutes to think about it, two minutes to rotate it, look at it from different sides, hold it up to the light, think about it, something shifts in the brain. The brain moves beyond. Almost like it short circuits some of those biases that are built in the confirmation bias, all those ones that people will have read about in psychology magazines. Those biases that are built into the brain that pushes towards solutions we've seen before, low-hanging fruit. You move past that state with two minutes of just thinking to finding bigger more complex, better solutions to a problem.
Again, I come back to this point that that's two minutes, right? It's not two days, two hours, it's just two minutes, right? A 120 seconds could make a big, big difference. That's a little hack that anyone can apply pretty much in any job. You can find and carve out two minutes to think over a big problem before you hit send, or before you react. This is part of the problem though. The culture is all about reaction, rather than reflection. We can bring back reflection, because we have those muscles. They may have atrophy, because we've become accustomed to using them, but they're still there. All of us can with a bit of practice and a bit of discipline, can bring them back and get those muscles firing again, in the workplace, but elsewhere as well. It's not just about boosting productivity.
[0:27:31.8] MB: Well, it's funny because the productivity example is essentially a corollary of the same paradox that we discussed earlier, which is this idea that if you end up trying to do everything, you end up essentially missing everything. Similarly, if you're constantly in a state of reactivity, you actually end up achieving less. When you slow down, you get more done.
[0:27:52.4] CH: Yeah. Again, that's what I call the delicious paradox of slow. We all have that experience in the workplace don't we? Every office has got that person who's a whirling dervish of activity, rushing around breathless, always on the move, multitasking, seeming to – and yet very often, that's the person who gets the least done, right? When you really want something done, it's often that quiet, on the surface slow person that people turn to who will get the stuff done, right, and get it done well. I think many of us will have that experience.
I mean, and let's talk about multitasking, right? I mean, where you pick up job applications now and often, you'll just see that word sprinkled all across them. We're looking for a multitasker, multitasking a must, all this stuff. It's on a pedestal up there. It’s almost talismanic quality. You need to have to thrive in the modern workplace. When in fact, it's nonsense, right? The human brain cannot multitask.
I know there might be some women out there thinking, “Who's this guy mansplaining?” No. Human brains cannot think meaningfully about two things at the same time when we're multitasking at work or wherever, what we're doing is toggling. We're juggling back and forth between tasks. Task one might get, I don't know, five seconds of your attention, then you're back over there to task two and that gets 10 – then you’re over task three and you're back to –
Guess what? All of that cognitive gear grinding is just as wasteful as it sounds. If you take two people, the fast multitasker versus, let's call that other person the slow mono-tasker who does one thing at a time wherever possible and focuses. On average, the fast multitasker will take up to twice as long and a make up to twice as many mistakes as the slow person. There again, there's the science telling us that slower is better, right? That slower is often the way to go.
There's an old military adage which gets at the heart of this, I think. It says, slow is smooth and smooth is fast, right? I think that nails it a little bit in the workplace. A lot of us I think will understand that, will know that intuitively that's the case.
[0:29:51.1] MB: That's so funny. I've literally written that quote down. That's one of my favorite quotes and I was going to bring that up and share it, but it's really funny that you brought it up as well, because it's such a great quote and really encapsulates the essence of this entire idea.
[0:30:05.4] CH: It does. I love the language of too, smooth, because there's something about slow and I'm talking about slow with a capital S. When you're moving back between different speeds, you're doing things at the right tempo, what musicians call the tempo giusto, the correct rhythm and the correct tempo of the moment. Even as I'm talking to you now, my hands are moving through the air, it's like a dance, right?
In a sense, that's really what this slow revolution is about. It's about getting the right tempo, so moving up and down the scale. Sometimes you're fast, sometimes a little slower, your present, whatever speed you're at, you're there. It's a dance. When you find yourself moving, dance between fast and slow and across the different tempos and speeds, that's when the music and the magic really happen, whether it's the workplace, relationships, food, whatever it is. If you're in that zone – I’ve used the word Zen. I mean, you could – there's so many different words for it. My word is slow for it.
If you're getting in that slow place where you're present, you're there, you're at the right speed, you forget the clock, it feels swimming. It's dancing. That's why I love that quote that talk about slow being smooth. It is smooth. There’s a smoothness to it.
[0:31:13.8] MB: I've always thought of it from the analogy and I've heard that it's from the sniper corps, that when you're looking down the scope of a rifle and you have this magnification, if you move really slowly you can line up with your target exactly. If you're jerking from place to place, you're going to be constantly missing and you're never going to get there and it actually takes more time to try and jerk around than if you just slowly set yourself.
[0:31:36.4] CH: Yeah, I've heard that too. In fact, that makes me think of another way of unpicking this whole question of pace and what it does to us if we get the wrong speed going is that the scope, you're in focus or you're out of focus, it's sharp or it's blurry. One of the things that we sacrifice on the altar of speedoholism, doing everything faster is memory, right? When everything is moving too fast, when you're moving through your life too fast, nothing sticks. Everything becomes a blur, everything is out of focus and nothing remains with you.
That's one of the reasons why I think when we're in roadrunner mode and we're living way too fast for our own selves, we don't remember stuff. You get to the end of 2000 and whatever, 18, and your head hits the pillow and you look back and think, “Whoa. Can't remember anything. I can't remember what I had for dinner last night.” Nothing sticks.
One of the things that I noticed when I slowed down and began doing fewer things, but doing those things really well and being present and enjoying them was that I'm again remembering thanks more. Milan Kundera in fact has a – he talks about the intimate bond between memory and slowness. I think there's a lot to be said for that that – I mean, memory is such an important part of the human experience and building up our sense of identity and it brings so much pleasure memory, to be able to look back and relive moments, your own highlight reel. If you're moving through it so fast that you haven't got a highlight reel, and that's another downside let's say to this whole fast-forward culture that we're apparently stuck in.
[0:33:10.0] MB: Hey, I'm here real quick with confidence expert Dr. Aziz Gazipura to share a lightning round insight with you. Dr. Aziz, how can people say no more often and stop people-pleasing?
[0:33:23.8] AG: This is not only important to figure out how to do, but to start practicing immediately. Because most people don't realize, their anxiety, their stress, their overwhelm is often a result of not saying no.
Here are some quick tips on how to start doing that. First of all, imagine right now in your life where would you benefit from saying no, where do you feel overloaded, pressured, overwhelmed. Even if intellectually, you're telling yourself you should, tune into your heart, tune into your body, where do you feel, “I don't want to.” Start paying attention to that. Start honoring that.
The next tip is to imagine saying no and then notice how you feel, because you're probably going to feel all kinds of good stuff, right? Guilt, fear, what are they going to think? I don't want to let this person down. What you want to do is before you go say no to them, you want to work through that. You want to address that. You want to get out on paper. Can I say this? Why can't I say this? What's stopping me from doing this? Do a little prep work, so you can really just practice it.
Then the third and most important step, of course is going to be to go say no. Start saying no liberally. Start saying no regularly. In fact, after listening to this, find an opportunity today to say no. Because the more you do it like anything else, like any sub-skill of confidence, the more you do it, the easier it will become and the freer you'll become in your life.
[0:34:40.0] MB: Do you want the confidence to say no and boldly ask for what you deserve? Sign up for Dr. Aziz's Confidence University by visiting successpodcast.com/confidence. That's successpodcast.com/confidence and start saying no today.
[0:35:01.3] MB: Well, I've want to get into more around memory and how do we – then talk about your new project and how that deals with aging and identity and all these things. There's one other thing before we tap into that that I wanted to talk about, which is just something that's again, a corollary but a distinct bucket of this same topic, which I love the title of your previous book, The Slow Fix, because we're in a world today where so many people are looking for the quick fix. They're looking for I call it get-rich-quick schemes. They're always trying to find it and yet, the reality is that's usually the worst possible path that you can take.
[0:35:36.5] CH: Exactly. I mean, there is no one step to a flat belly. Nobody ever cured a broken relationship with a box of chocolates, or solved Middle Eastern peace process with an airstrike, right? These duct tape solutions, they just – I mean, invariably what we end up doing is treating the symptoms of a problem in a short-term way, rather than getting down into the core and the root of the problem. As you say, there's nothing worse than a quick fix in a sense, because it just delays and lets the problem fester and get worse than it was, because it gives a false sense of security, or it gives us a sense that we have solved the problem when truly, we haven't. We've just papered over the symptoms a little while before it all grows up in our face again.
My argument in The Slow Fix book is that we need to flip that round. The moment we say to ourselves, well we're all so rushed. We say, well, we haven't got time for a slow fix. We only have time for a quick fix. The truth is that we always have time, don't we? Later on when the quick fix of today blows up in our faces, we always find the time and the money to put it right later on, to pick up the pieces.
What I'm saying with this idea of the slow fix is why don't we just flip that equation around and instead of waiting till it all goes horribly wrong later on, why don't we invest the time and the money now to start getting to a real solution in here now, rather than booting it downfield and trying to deal with it later when invariably, it takes much more time and much more money in the medium and longer term. Yeah, so with that book I'm looking at how we apply this idea across everything from business, to relationships, to medicine. Yeah.
[0:37:14.9] MB: It's such an important idea, this idea that energy is essentially wasted on the search and the implementation of a quick fix, when in reality, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and it's so much easier to spend that time on the frontend actually doing it right, doing it well. Having a focus on quality as we talked about earlier, as opposed to just rushing from quick fix to quick fix.
[0:37:38.1] CH: I mean, that's so much the case. I mean, it's heartbreaking really sometimes to see the waste that we endure, because of this quick fix culture. You see it in politics all the time, with politicians firing off this initiative, or this new scheme, or this. Then when eventually six months later, or a year later, we taught out what it all cost us, it just makes you want to weep. If somebody just said, “Hang on. Let's just stop. Take some time to think hard, to join up the dots, to talk to people, to bring people.” Let's get a real solution that actually might work, rather than a Band-Aid. Because a Band-Aid, if you need deep surgery, a Band-Aid is not the solution, right? It's just going to cost you a whole lot more time and money later on, and a lot more pain as well.
[0:38:26.9] MB: Let's dig into – I want to talk a little bit about your new project, Bolder. How did you come to wanting to write and think about this idea and what is it?
[0:38:37.0] CH: Well, my books always seem to start – I’ve realized now, with some personal epiphany moment where I realized that I just lost my bearings a bit and something is not right in my own head, in my own life. For me, the spark for writing Bolder was I was at a hockey tournament. I'm a big hockey player and I was 48-years-old at the time. I was lead scorer at the tournament. I was playing really well and I scored a goal that you don't score very often off a face-off and led my team in the semi-finals.
I was walking on air, until I discovered just after the quarterfinals that I was the oldest player at this tournament of 240 players. For some reason, that knowledge just – I don't know, it's like getting cross-checked in the face. I don't know. It just knocked me off balance and I began to hear all kinds of questions of again thinking, “Well, should I be here? Are people laughing at me? Am I too old to play the sport I love and still play well and have played my whole life? Maybe I should take up BINGO.”
It was just suddenly, I don't know, the number, the age, number itself suddenly took on a terrible power. I wanted to understand why and whether it deserved that power. I sat with this idea of what does it mean to be aging in a world that's in thrall to youth, this cult of youth, younger is better, we're always being told and getting older sucks. That seems to be the whole narrative that we’re brought up with. I just wanted to unpack that a bit and see if it was true. I found out this a lot to me – I mean, what I discovered through a couple years of research and writing is that of course, we all know that some things – we do lose something as we grow older, but many, many things stay the same. Actually, other things get better.
It was that mixed picture that I wanted to take to the world and that's what Bolder is about. It's about saying, “You know what? There are many, many things to look forward to as you grow older, whether you're in your 20s, right? Or your 30s.” I mean, we have all – we change with every decade, but it need not be a downhill spiral from wherever, 30 or 35, or wherever people are drawing the line nowadays. It's much more complex. There's a whole good new story to talk about aging, especially now and when it seems to me we're entering a golden age of aging. It's never been a better time in human history to grow older, to be over 40 or 50 or 60 or 70 or 80 or even over a 100 nowadays.
I guess, let me reframe it in a sense. My first three books took on the cult of speed. I was arguing with them that faster is not always better. With Bolder, what I'm doing is taking on the cult of youth and I'm arguing that younger is not always better.
[0:41:05.9] MB: Tell me about a couple of the positive benefits of getting older.
[0:41:10.6] CH: Sure. Well, one thing that totally blew me away and I hadn't even – it wasn't even on my radar at all is that people actually get happier as they get older. I think this the story that the culture tells us is that old people are unhappy, cranky old woman, grumpy old man, all those tropes we have in the culture. In fact across most cultures, there is what is called the U-shaped happiness curve, that we start off happy in childhood and it goes down into our 30s and 40s and bottoms out somewhere in our 40s and maybe 50, but then goes up again.
In fact, across most cultures across all age groups, certain audience groups, income groups, culture, ethnic backgrounds, the age cohort reports the highest levels of life satisfaction, happiness are the over 55 and over 60s, which seems to me to go completely against everything that I as a card-carrying ageist, I got to admit it, I had a really bad view of growing older.
There's a whole other thing going on, which is that people find a ease with themselves. People find that they make peace with themselves and more comfortable in our own skin as we grow older. I think that feeds into the happiness thing. We worry less about what other people think about us. There's a freedom. There's a lightness that comes as we get older, I think, a confidence. I mean, there's a wonderful quote from Ann Landers, the legendary Agony Ann who said once that at 20, we worry about what other people think of us. At 40, we stop worrying about what other people think of us. At 60, we realize they were never thinking about us at all, right?
I think that gets that something that happens as you move through 40s, 50s and further on into the second half of life. There is a lightness. You're not tiptoeing around other people's expectations. You can take life by the scruff of the neck and define what life is going to be for you. That's why so many people walk away from jobs they've hated, relationships that haven’t worked for them and reinvent themselves I think later on, because there's that feeling of confidence and just not worrying about what other people think, and just getting on with making the most of what are now our longer lives.
Another thing that gets better as we get older is I mean, believe it or not, productivity. I mean, this is another thing. All this awful language we use, we talk about finished at 40 and all these people struggling to get job interviews after the age of sometimes 35 at some sectors, but certainly after 40. When in fact, actually people get a lot better at their jobs as they get older. Then that the science, the research is all there to show this that productivity, especially in jobs that rely on any social skills, which is most jobs nowadays, people tend to get better. The productivity goes up, creativity holds strong and can get stronger as we grow older.
We become less obsessed with ourselves. There's a altruism that often kicks in a later life. There's just so many things that are sunny-side up in later life and whether that's over 35, 40, or 50 or even older. There's something to look much to look forward to, which in a culture that's always telling us that you're done and you're over the hill, all these dreadful expressions, you're the wrong side of 40. It's just all there. It's in our vernacular, but it's actually untrue a lot of it.
[0:44:15.0] MB: Very interesting and I love the positive outlook on that. How do you think about aging and how it relates to mortality?
[0:44:23.7] CH: Well, I think one reason we find aging and always have done a tricky venture, right? It scares us in some ways is that the end point of aging is death, right? Mortality. It's a reminder, every creaky joint, every gray hair is a reminder that the grim reaper is coming for us, right? That we're going to check out, that time is finite. I guess the question is what do you do with that, right? Do you feel downtrodden and depressed that you only have so much time here? Or because the opposite happened? Do you think well, I've got a finite amount of time. I'm going to make the most of the time I have now.
That was one thing I found really interesting in the research of the book is that two things; one is that as people get older, they tend to become less afraid of death, which seems counterintuitive. You think, well the closer it is, the more scary – but actually the opposite seems to be true. Again, across all cultures, people become less afraid of dying as they get closer to the end. This is especially the case as you get to the very final lap usually for people. That's one thing for if you've got listeners who are in their 20s thinking, “Well actually, that's one thing.” The burden of it becomes less as you grow older.
The other thing I want to put on the table here is that in our culture, we've pushed death away. We see it on Netflix crime series and stuff, but it's not in our daily lives much. People often die in hospitals now. We don't see dead bodies very much. It's walled off and pushed away from us. There's a benefit to thinking about dying, to be aware of mortality, which is why every great religion, or the Buddhism, or Hindu, they've all got death meditations. The whole idea of thinking about mortality, the point being not to make you morbid and depressed about the fact that you only have so many years on this earth, but actually to make you cherish the time that you do have here.
I think that one of the benefits of being around older people, being around death, thinking about our own aging is that we then confront the whole idea of mortality more. If we use that wisely, it can help us make the more – make the most of the time we have now, whether we're in our 20s, or 30s, 40s, whatever. If you're aware that you've only got so much time, you think, “Well, I'm going to make the most of this here and now.”
I feel that it's part of this, I don't want to say rebranding because that sounds cheesy, but it's bringing back a celebration of aging and embracing of it, embracing of it's the rough and the smooth. Part of that has to be embracing mortality and making mortality part of our calculus, when we think about our lives, looking at the long-term and so on.
[0:46:54.7] MB: Great insight. Obviously, everyone's getting older. As someone who's now getting older and older and it's great to have a different perspective on thinking about dealing with that.
[0:47:05.0] CH: Yeah. I mean, I have to say that I've got a very clear before and after for this book Bolder. I was somebody who was either denying my own aging, or appalled and terrified and ashamed of it, or by it. Now that I've gone through a couple of years of thinking about aging, crunching the numbers, doing the research, traveling around the world, just immersing myself in the whole question, I've come out the other side with a completely different feeling and worldview.
I am actually completely at ease now. I say that hand on heart. I'm completely at ease with the idea of growing older. I'm looking forward to what's coming next, right? Because I know that what's coming next is going to be pretty amazing. If I go in with an open heart and an open mind and I regard aging not as a process of closing doors, but of opening them, then I know that all kinds of incredibly good stuff is waiting for me. I'm looking forward to discovering what it is.
[0:47:59.0] MB: For listeners who want to concretely implement some of the things and ideas that we've talked about today, what would be one action item, or starting point, or a piece of homework that you would give them to begin?
[0:48:11.4] CH: Sure. I give a couple of suggestions. This is maybe more on the slow side of our conversation. I touched on this a little earlier with the to-do list and the not to-do list, but I think it's so important to do less, right? Less is more. Look at your to-do list and just start cutting. It might be two things, might be one thing, it could be two things that whatever it is, just start changing that conversation you have with yourself, moving away from yes to no and yes to yourself and no to doing. Just try and find ways to – drop one thing a day, let's say, or one thing a week, or something and just try and let more oxygen into your schedule. That'll be a first suggestion.
A second has to do with technology. Love the gadgets, as I said before. They all have a red button on them. That means off. You start switching off the gadgets. Wall off time when you're not reachable. Turn off your notifications. Just anything that means that you're turning your smartphone into a tool again, rather than a weapon of mass destruction, right? Find the way that it works best for you and just be off as much as you can in the circumstances of your life at the moment.
A third suggestion is to integrate some slow ritual into your day. Just embed some slow practice, so that's going to vary from person to person. It could be knitting, might be meditation, reading poetry, cooking, going for a walk, just anything that inoculates you, vaccinates you against the virus of hurry and acts as a break in what might otherwise be a fast day where you're at the mercy of other people's impatience and speed, and just build it in. You'll find that not only does it recharge your body and mind in that moment, but it will start to spread out into the rest of your day.
[0:49:49.9] MB: Where can listeners find more about you, your work and your books online?
[0:49:54.3] CH: That's the easiest question you've asked me so far. Just my website. Everything is there. It's carlhonore.com. There's video, audio. I've got an online course. There's Q&As and lots of information about my books. There's links to all kinds of groups that are working in slow and so and so. Everything is there. That's a good starting point, a clearinghouse for all of my ideas.
Also, I have a contact page where you can write to me. I get back to everybody. I love being in touch with people. I learn as much as I teach, so I'm always happy to answer questions and be in touch with people. Don't hesitate to fire off an e-mail through my contact page, if you want to be in touch directly.
[0:50:35.5] MB: Well, Carl. Thank you so much for coming on the show, for sharing all this wisdom; some really great insights me excellent practical takeaways for the listeners.
[0:50:43.7] CH: Thanks. Been a pleasure chatting with you.
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