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Slow. It’s a concept dear to my heart and the core idea behind the blogs I started several years ago. So when I found an entire series of slow vignettes in Best Life magazine, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Hugh O’Neill has looked at how slow can be applied to everything, from investing to parenting to sex. Here’s how he describes this series of meditations on slow:

“Aha!” I muttered into the 2 a.m. silence. While reading Bob Dylan’s memoirs, I’d stumbled on something interesting. “I did everything fast,” wrote the troubadour of his early struggles to marshal his skills. “I needed to slow my mind down if I was going to be a composer with anything to say.” Earlier that day, I’d been in my car, tearing it up and singing along to a tune on the radio, when I noticed that I was always a shade too fast. The singer held each note a nanosecond longer than I did and waited just an extra half-instant before sliding into the next phrase. That evening, I’d also noted Letterman’s patience as he ambled through a scripted joke. His easy pace, his confidence, his willingness to meander toward the punch line seemed central to the mirth. All these years, I had been searching for the same thing every man desires: fast answers to all of my dilemmas. And therein lay the problem. Slower, apparently, is the secret to success.

The slow road I’ve traveled for the past few years has been less about savoring and more about succeeding. In search of more money, more muscle, more laughs, maybe even more satisfaction, I found that professionals across many disciplines had found that immense benefits accrue to those who ease off the accelerator. As I’ve slowed everything down—from slicing carrots, to storytelling, to golfing, to shaving—I’ve felt my serenity and, more important, my competence, growing. I’ve started to feel my new pace polishing up my life. Now, whenever I’m having a tough time with something, whether it’s drilling a pilot hole or getting a point across in a meeting, I just do it a touch more slowly. Invariably, improvement ensues. Not long ago, my wife, while naked, asked me to do “that slow thing you did last time,” and she seemed to enjoy it…several times.

This is how I left the hurried go-go-go path to which we’ve been habituated in search of the most highly evolved man I could possibly be…at any speed.

All of O’Neill’s segments are thoughtful, but it was this one on brainpower that I found particularly salient:

We’re encouraged to read fast. Those kids who zipped through the SAT got four years at palaces such as Princeton and Duke. But the best way to focus more effectively is to slow down. If you have some reading to do, make time for two passes. “The first read is to absorb the general themes,” says Barry Gordon, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and cognitive science at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the author of Intelligent Memory. “Once you have those organizers in your head, you’ll be able to store more details from the second pass.”

Think of making memories as a weaving process, suggests Dr. Gordon. “The more threads of cross-connections, the more context you can create for a memory, so the more durable it will be,” he says. Slowing down can also boost creativity. Dr. Gordon cites a famous film of Jackson Pollock at work, specifically moments when the artist pauses, seemingly to assess what he has done and to allow himself the time to “see” differently.

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