But I am NOT complaining.
Most people give me a quizzical, if not skeptical, look when I say how much I am enjoying this slow spring, but I am sincere in my appreciation. As the cold nights and cool days hold back the green tide, they also allow me time to integrate my days. When my head is full with the latest news, or my heart troubled by a conflict, I step outside into a landscape that is springing slowly and I am calmed. Literally, my nervous system regulates within a few minutes of walking and the combination of cool air, bird song and water squishing beneath my rubber boots, balances my jangled thoughts or emotions. Hence, I decide this year’s slow spring is the perfect antidote to our fast-paced world.
Being one to do so, I muse further. What if, I wonder, we could intentionally cultivate the ability to slow down that which tends to burst quickly? I realize, with a smile, this is exactly what Daniel Kahneman proposes in his New York Times bestseller, Thinking Fast and Slow. In this seminal work, Kahneman describes two systems of thought – one that is fast and intuitive and the other, slow and analytical. We need both systems in order to survive. But in modern society, many of us go into a default mode of using intuitive processes when we would benefit from a more methodical thinking style and the discernment it champions. In my observation, cults, conspiracy theories, and unhealthy power-dynamics are completely dependent on this common human error. When emotions are stirred, we tend to act before we think, arriving at faulty, unreasonable decisions. In the chapter, Taming Intuitive Predictions, Kahneman describes how to correct intuitive predictions by engaging the slower system of thought and recognizing that ‘thinking fast’ often leads to overconfidence, inaccurate conclusions and sometimes dire consequences.
In my years in an everyday cult, I often sprang to conclusions that were not in my best interest. For example, responding to an emotional appeal to participate in a committee that ends up consuming inordinate amounts of time, compromising my quality of life with my family. Without question, those of us who are recovering from abusive power-over circumstances will benefit from taming a tendency to think impulsively. Considering the highly charged dynamics of politics in America today, I sense we all could benefit from a little ‘springing slowly’: noticing the places where we quickly jump to confident understanding or a decision to do something that would best be served by a slower, more thoughtful response. In fact, perhaps we could each make a commitment to do this and share our experiences. I’m sure we have a lot we could learn from each other.