Finding Time to Slow Down

 "All the unhappiness of men arises from one simple fact: they cannot sit quietly in their chamber."

This famous quote by 17th century French philosopher Blaise Pascal epitomises one of our most basic yet often unsatisfied needs; the need to slow down. We, as a community, live very frantic lives. All of us, teachers, parents and boys, are accustomed to hard and continuous work which is a testament to the values and attitudes at Scotch. However, we often forget that taking some time to slow down and relax is just as, if not more important.

I think we often forget why we need to slow down and relax as the rewards of hard work are usually very fulfilling. However, slowing down is great for both our mental and physical health. Decreasing stress, getting more sleep and allowing time to reflect can be the difference between a healthy and unhealthy life.

In his book titled The Art of Stillness: Adventures of Going Nowhere, Pico Iyer notes "the more time I spend away from my work the better that work will be". This statement to some may seem a bit oxymoronic however it demonstrates the importance of taking time to relax and reflect, because as we would all know fifteen minutes of good work is better than four hours of bad work. This is a good lesson for our boys as well.  They are often given the impression that doing lots of work always leads to great results when in reality it is the quality of the work, not the quantity that makes the biggest difference.

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One metaphor that really resonates with me was again from The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer. He imagines life as a giant canvas that is noisy and crowded and changing every microsecond, and we are standing two inches away from it, running left and right, up and down, trying to keep track of constant changes. It is not until we step back and look at the canvas as a whole that we understand what our lives really mean and realise what is really important.

So, on the eve of the school holidays we should all take time to slow down and reflect on the term, not just the parents and teachers but the boys as well. Relax, reflect, de-stress and remember the things that are truly important in life, family and friends.

The Art of Stillness: Adventures of Going Nowhere

Why we need to slow down our lives by Pico Iyer 

Dr Alec O'Connell FACE, FAIM, FNAAUC

As Scotch College's 7th Headmaster, I focus on preparing boys for life through focusing on values and cultural alignment.

I am a passionate educator focussed on student and community engagement. My goal as a Headmaster is to graduate future thought leaders who are prepared for life after school.


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