In my work with couples and individuals, I’ve seen how slowing down will make you happier and more productive. And, I know we all want to be happy and we all want to be productive…right?

Many of us erroneously believe that the way to be happy and productive is to go as fast as you can throughout your waking hours. Research, as well as my own experience, shows that this concept is far from the truth.

I had a conversation just yesterday with a client and he asked me, “How do I become happy?”

This is a person who works very hard and is very accomplished in his career. He is very wound up and feels pressure much of the time always trying to measure up to his own standards.

I explained to him that it is actually impossible to feel happy when you live a life with your body in a contracted state and always trying to prove yourself. What he didn’t expect was that during the session I actually taught him the importance of slowing down.

We spent some of the session having him practice noticing his feelings, his breathing and the sensations he was feeling in his body.

He is a person who spends very little time noticing what’s going on in his body. His focus is always external. The importance of slowing down long enough to experience what he was feeling could not be overemphasized.

As it turned out, he started to get tearful as he expressed to me that he’s been on the verge of crying ever since he was asked by me to slow down and notice his body and what was going on in his inner world.

As the tears came down his face, he realized that he’s been trying so hard to be happy that he could never be happy. He realized that there was a sense of calm and happiness after some of those tears and feelings were released. This is just one small example of what slowing down does for us.

This is a person who as he continues to practice slowing down, will have more energy to be even more productive in his career and reach even higher levels of success.

Happiness is a state of mind or being, whereas pleasure is a momentary experience that feels good.

There is nothing wrong with pleasure and I personally like to experience pleasure as much as possible. However, happiness is more about your overall way of experiencing yourself and the environment you live in.

Happiness is about a sense of well-being that goes deeper than experiences of pleasure.

I am convinced that there is no way to experience real happiness without slowing down. Likewise, I don’t see any way a couple can experience relationship happiness without learning to slow down together.

Slowing down is an intentional, willful act where you let go of the agenda that all your mind’s thoughts are throwing at you.

Slowing down helps you arrive in the present moment as you experience your own inner feelings and desires at that moment. It is a moment where you can experience one or multiple sensory experiences.

For example, running down the street to get to your destination will for sure get you there but stopping to smell the roses along the way can create happiness. I understand that sometimes in life we need to go quickly but that is very different than rushing.

And despite that statement I just made that we need to sometimes go quickly, if we are always going quickly, then we are missing opportunities to experience the present moment which definitely cuts down on our happiness.

So how does slowing down lead to you being more productive?

I think many of us are so focused on action that we overlook and underestimate the influence of our moment by moment energy level on outcomes of action. As a professor, I tell my students all the time that they should have two goals when writing papers. The first goal is to write the best paper that they can and the second goal which is just as important as the first is to enjoy writing it.

The students that take my suggestion and apply it find that they are more relaxed as they write the paper and they get more focused and interested in what they are researching and expressing on paper (or more accurately on their computer screen). Their focus and passion comes right from the screen to me and they typically will get a higher grade.

Those that stay stressed and don’t slow down and resist enjoying the process often times write papers that are missing a certain passion, which can ultimately lead to a lower grade.

Of course, it makes sense for me to give you a relationship example here as well since I am a relationship therapist.

Here is a familiar relationship scenario:

Partner A is angry at Partner B. Partner B wants the other person to just get over it quickly so they can enjoy their day.

This ultimately extends and escalates the argument.

However, if Partner B can slow down and make room for the expression of Partner A’s anger and listens, that emotion is processed far more quickly. Then they are free to be productive or do whatever they had planned for that day.

In other words, the more you slow down with your partner who has emotions, the less time and energy it will take to deal with that emotion which leads to more productivity as a couple.

If a couple wants to produce a fun day or if the couple wants to have an enjoyable time with the kids, they are free to do so because they slow down long enough to take care of that emotional business.

I have many more examples that I could tell you that would be in the areas of health, career or creativity as well but I think you get my point.

Give permission to yourself to slow down daily (hopefully multiple times a day) even for small periods of time. It gives you the opportunity to connect with yourself and to discover what it is that you feel and want which in and of itself will lead to more happiness.

Take the time to enjoy your moment to moment experiences whether you are by yourself or with your partner or with friends or family. Next time you find yourself feeling stressed or unhappy, remember that slowing down will make you happier and more productive

You will be glad you practiced this process of slowing down, a practice that is not encouraged by most mainstream society but it is very necessary for your happiness and productivity.

Author's Bio: 

Mr. Creager is educated and trained as a Marriage and Sex Therapist and spends much of his time helping partners in long-term relationships learn how to create passionate, alive and nourishing interactions. He provides unique and powerful insights that lead to powerful breakthroughs which result in his clients getting closer to realizing their full potential.

He founded his practice in 1982 in Tustin CA, and has since helped thousands of individuals and couples learn how to bring the best out of others to achieve their goals. The biggest joy in his career is witnessing clients increase their capacity to receive more from life as well as others.

He has developed the gift of helping couples and individuals move past their resistance to have the relationships and love they crave. His specialties include helping couples heal from infidelity, helping couples rekindle passion and helping individuals break free from their earlier toxic relationships and dysfunctional families. He does this in a variety ways including specialized programs that are powerful and effective as well as seminars, workshops, speaking and informational products.

Todd’s practice in Huntington Beach, CA has been helping couples and individuals all around Orange County including Long Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Corona del Mar and Seal Beach – for over 30 years!