Why We Slow Down


Is it because we cannot perform a task like we did when we were younger?

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I have found the study of the aging process to be interesting; somewhat annoying, but interesting nevertheless. Last year I wrote a column titled, “Slowing Down,”  where I made the observation we slow down, not necessarily because of our physical prowess, but because we become more sensitive to our limitations and smarter in terms of their use.

I would like to amend my premise slightly, as we can blame a certain degree of physicality for slowing us down. Consider this; when we’re young, we’re faster, stronger, and more coordinated. However, as we get older we find we cannot perform tasks as rapidly as we could before, e.g., we cannot multitask as we did in our youth. For example, I prize myself on the speed by which I use a computer, but I recognize I’m slowing down a bit by becoming more cautious in my execution as I despise making a mistake and having to re-do something. Whereas we used to have a good reaction time, now we occasionally drop things. And this irritates us to no end.

Inevitably, this irritation causes us to rethink what we are doing and, instead of making ourselves angry, we decide to slow down a bit. Whereas we could handle the pressure more easily in our youth, now we tend to become grumpy and cantankerous when we cannot.

Recently, I found myself slowing down just for this purpose. Instead of becoming obsessed with a task I was working on, I decided to step back, take a breath, and slowed down. In other words, we slow down in order to maintain our sanity.

Maybe this is why older people tend to drive in the right lane when they are on the Interstate highway. It’s irritating when they refuse to get out of the left lane. This is a matter of not admitting you’re growing older.

Recognizing this, maybe I was right with my original premise that we do get smarter as we get older. Maybe there is truth in the old Dutch proverb, “We get too soon old and too late smart.”

Keep the Faith!