In Slowing Down, Buffer founder Leo Widrich describes how practicing deliberate slowness in times of high stress yields feelings of happiness and gratitude. We especially love the simple technique of Slow Walking he learned from Paulo Coelho’s book The Pilgrimage, called The Speed Exercise:

It is very simple. You pick a route to walk and you walk at half the speed that you normally do. You do this for 20 minutes.

Doing this exercise was very difficult for me at first. In such a busy place like Hong Kong, where everyone is rushing through the streets, you get a lot of impulses to just speed up again. But after the first five minutes I was ok and in a good rhythm.

And after those five minutes, things changed a lot. I started to look around. I started to see things I have never seen before—small side streets where people where finishing their day’s of work, piling boxes on top of each other, loading them on a dirty truck. A woman greeting a man with a great smile, waiting for him to cross the street at a red light. It was a different smile again. That kind of smile when meeting someone you really like is just seconds away. Then I saw two people, both seemed to have just started their night shift as security guards, chatting and laughing away as if they were at a party.

Everything seemed different during those 20 minutes. I could feel my head getting a lot heavier and then all of a sudden lighter. As if every step made me lose a few pounds.

I felt extremely happy.

We figure there are lots of ways of slow walking, from Sil Austin’s funky Slow Walk, above, to this amazingly fluid chi gong practitioner…


We recommend reading how Widrich cultivates more habits for feeling happy

Because: The only way to be happy, is to teach yourself how.

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2 replies on “Slow Walk to Happiness and Gratitude (Leo Widrich)

  1. I used to live in NYC so am in the habit of walking fast but was admonished during my recent travels in Italy to walk slower… My friend in Paris recently told me about taking part in Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker’s participatory performance piece, “My Walking is My Dancing” with much the same reaction as you described:

  2. Debra, thank you so much for the link. That is really wonderful.
    Me, I also had a lesson in slow-walking in NYC, where I live, and am used to barreling around as I use walking as an exercise. But my knee got messed up recently and I HAD to walk way slow. It took little adjusting to get with it, and then it was, remarkably great and relaxing, yielding completely different views.

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