This summer I’ve been on a quest to lead a more balanced life, have more fun, and more time with my husband, family and friends.

I remember a converation about 5 years ago with my best friend, who runs an accounting business. One day she was complaining that one of her team members wasn’t very engaged. The employee seemed more interested in her family time and taking vacations then in working lots of overtime. We commiserated, then I asked, “What if she’s right, and we’re wrong?” We laughed. We revisited that conversation a few months ago, now that we are older and maybe a little wiser. We both agreed that a more balanced life led to greater happiness and better health; with less stress and more time to relax, rest and exercise.

Years ago Rick and I were married on July 4th. Yes, we like fireworks, but part of our logic was that as two romantic workaholics, we’d always have the day off.

Want to be happier? Slow down! I recently read an article called, The Secret to Being Happier Is Slowing Down by Stephanie Buck, and recommend you read it too. We wear our busyness as a badge of pride. Years ago, I reported to a VP who actually had a sign on her desk that read, “I’m too busy to tell you how busy I am.”  Think she made time for her team or family? Rarely. The article talks about how we keep ourselves so busy with work and social media, to the extent that a 2014 study showed that participants reported an aversion to being alone with their thoughts for just six to 15 minutes. In one group, 64% of men and 15% of women chose to administer electric shocks to themselves rather than sit with their thoughts. Does that frighten you? It terrifies me. What does this say about us as Americans?

Please stop! Relax! I am working on building a meditation practice as a way to slow down, be present and connect with myself and the environment. For just ten minutes a day, I work to sit quietly and focus on my breath. Breathe in, breath out. Repeat. When my mind wanders, which it does frequently, I come back to the breath. Try it. Find the best time of day for you. Transition times are great, waking up, before work, or the end of the work day, maybe before bed to unwind. See if you can make the time to slow down and be happier. As Leonardo DaVinci said, “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work, your judgment will be surer.”  Imagine that, happiness and productivity! I’d love to hear your strategies to slow down.

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