Life is Too Fast
by Mark A. Bakal, Psy.D. x314

Over the past ten to twenty years, the pace of life has changed drastically in our culture. In the 1970's, the traditional family (defined as parents still married and only one parent in the workforce outside the home) made up approximately 75% of the population. A combination of dual career and single parent families has reduced that number to 7%. Yes, 7% of families today are "traditional". Additionally, we are working longer hours and have seen a great increase in intensity and urgency. Technology has allowed us to be available 24 hours per day.

If you look at some of these changes our culture has gone through as a whole, it can be fairly overwhelming. We work more hours, at a more urgent pace, with potentially supportive families and friends geographically dispersed and therefore not as accessible. We are busier than ever before with less emotional resources. The average person seems to go from work, to scheduled activities for themselves or their children, with very little room for quality time with friends, spouse, oneself, or one's children.

Why would a psychologist raise these depressing points? Because, I do not believe these factors will change in the next several years. This pace we move at as a culture is taking a toll on marriages, families, and the overall well-being of each of us. The increased pace and role flexibility does not have to be a negative force. Since we are the first generation to experience this, we are just learning how to navigate our hectic environment. Most likely, our children's generation will be much more effective at knowing how to balance their schedules.

Therefore, it is up to each of us to look at ways we can simplify our lives - we can't wait for our culture to catch up.

As you move into your spring schedule, look for small ways you and your family can simplify your lives. A few examples may be:

  • Schedule one hour a week to explore with yourself or a loved one ways to stay focused on what is important
  • Meditate for 15 minutes per day - this will help slow down your pace
  • Exercise 3 times per week for 30 minutes
  • Say "no" to over-scheduling yourself and your children
  • Set limits on electronics (TV, computers, blackberry's, etc.)
  • Decide what busy-work you can delegate
  • Make time for laughter and silliness
  • Have a room (or rooms) in your home dedicated to reading or quiet time
  • Set goals for your life and make sure your daily activities are related in some way to those goals
  • Remember that relationships need time to be strong

(For more details, please refer to Elaine St. James. She is the author of several books on simplifying one's life.)