Slow Down, Nothing is Urgent.
The problem with instant gratification, the 24 hour news cycle and next-day shipping.
I’ve written so many of these articles at this point that I can probably label them as my minimalism motivated rants — MMR’s for short. The minimalist movement is sometimes viewed as something that is strictly limited to the amount of physical things someone has in their life, but it is actually a much broader movement that expands to the digital and mental spaces.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, life has slowed down. People have stripped their routines down to the bare minimum, and companies have stripped down to the core functionalities they need to function on a day-to-day basis. In a strange way, this pandemic has shown us what we actually need, rather than what we participate in because we can. All of this slowing down has helped me in my minimalism journey, and allowed me to do things with more intention and focus in on quality over quantity. Moreover, it has taught me that almost nothing is urgent, unless it pertains to my physical health.
Urgency is something that has been embedded in our society, especially in the last couple of decades with the creation of the internet, next-day shipping, and social media. Whether it is an email from a fast-fashion company urging you to buy from their 20% off sale happening NOW, or Amazon prime offering next-day shipping, there seems to be a constant pressure to have things immediately.
On one hand, it is nice to have things immediately. Opening up that package that arrived on your doorstep that you purchased less than 24 hours ago gives you that small hit of dopamine that leaves you smiling for the next couple of hours. For many years, I believed that this urgency and instant gratification were necessary so that I could fit as many things into my life as I possibly could. This, I thought, would make me happy.
In actuality, I’ve learned that the things that I work at daily are the things that provide me the most satisfaction, leaving me happier and more productive in the long-term. For example, when I started writing Medium articles over a year ago, I didn’t really know how to structure my pieces, and they weren’t very deep or thought out. After writing consistently for this past year, I’ve learned so much about writing, and have also found my voice. That process was slow, not urgent, but extremely successful in my own personal growth, and in return, I am happier.
For many months, I’ve struggled with what I want to do with these thoughts. In a world where instant gratification is the norm, it is hard to seek out delayed gratification. Here are some things that I’ve done that have helped me slow down my consumption and live a more intentional life.
- Giving up Amazon — I’ve resorted to almost any other retailer, and if I can find a small Etsy shop that sells the item I want, I would much rather support them. Sure, it’ll take me two weeks to get that item, but am I really in a rush for it? And yeah, if I need it today or tomorrow, I’ll just go to a store and pick it up.
- Reading Slow Media — The 24 hour news cycle is a little terrifying. The red banners and live updates create a sense of urgency, fear and anxiety in our lives. I’ve been trying to read more magazines and books because all of the information is contained, curated and has a sense of calmness and maturity that I don’t seem to get from the “trending on Twitter” section.
- Cleaning out my Inbox — I started doing this years ago, and it has been really incredible. I unsubscribed from every single newsletter that was trying to sell me something. I stopped getting email notifications on my phone that told me about the “latest flash sale at Forever 21”.
- Prioritizing my Notifications — As someone who wants to stay on the grid, but not have the constant anxiety of a notification, I cleaned up notifications on my phone. I enjoy texting, and have noticed that it is important for me to receive email notifications. These are the two notifications I have for my phone, and the rest of the apps are silent. This provides a sense of calm every time I pickup my phone, but allows me to stay connected to the people I care about.
- Interacting with Nature — The more time I spend outside, the more I learn to notice and appreciate the natural environment around me. As humans, we tend to center the world around our species, but we are lucky to live among so many other living things. There is a sense of calmness and comfort I get when I observe the natural environment around me, and it is a constant reminder that it is OK to slow down.
As someone who never had a lot of patience, these small changes have helped me gain stamina in all parts of my life. The changes have allowed me to prioritize my goals in a way that is meaningful for me and my long term happiness.
This pandemic doesn’t seem to have an end date, and I feel like I need all the motivation I can get to continue being excited about day to day things. Slowing down and being intentional has helped me gain that stamina and has kept me motivated throughout these strange, unprecedented times.