Episode #12 | Carl Honoré: Slower – Human Beings vs. Human Doings
June 18, 2019
"The culture is telling us to go faster and faster, cram more and more into less and less time. One of the main benefits of slowing down is we start to get to know ourselves better; we find and forge the right path for us through life."
- Carl Honoré
How do you commit to slowing down in a world that demands we move fast? In this episode, we have a timely conversation with Carl Honoré, the acclaimed father of the global "Slow Movement." In May 2019, the World Health Organization recognized burnout as an official medical diagnosis. As Carl says, "When we get stuck in fast forward … it's harming us on every single level." Tune in to hear Carl's prescription for inoculating ourselves against what he calls "the global virus of hurry."
About Carl Honoré
Carl Honoré is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and TED speaker based in London. As the global voice of the “Slow Movement,” he travels the world to teach people how to thrive in a fast world by slowing down. Carl was featured in a series for BBC Radio 4 called “The Slow Coach” in which he helped frazzled, over-scheduled Britons slow down. His show “Frantic Family Rescue” did the same for families in Australia. Carl is the host of The Slow Revolution podcast and his TED talk on the benefits of slowing down has been viewed 2.8 million times. Before spearheading the “Slow Movement,” Carl spent a decade working as a journalist. He covered Europe and South America for The Economist, Observer, Miami Herald, Houston Chronicle, TIME, National Post, and other publications.
Carl is often referred to as the “Global Guru” of the slow movement. His 2005 TED talk, “In Praise of Slowness” has been viewed nearly 3 million times. He’s the author of four best-selling books which have been translated into 35 languages. A prolific writer, researcher, and speaker, Carl’s core message is that the best way to thrive in a fast world is to slow down.
Carl’s work is fascinating to me at a cultural level, but also very much on a personal level. In one of his writings, he asked, “Is every moment of your day a race against the clock? Are you tired, stressed, and distracted? Do you feel like you’re rushing through life instead of living it?” And up until now, when it comes to whether I identify with the states of racing, tired, stressed, distracted, and rushing, my answers have been a resounding yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.
It was clear to me from our first email interaction that Carl walks the walk. These aren’t just words to him—he truly lives his life this way. Reading his emails, I felt calmer and slower. And then when we spoke live to tape his interview, his tone, his cadence, his reflection exuded the same vibe. Like many, I was always stuck in the mindset that any degree of slowness was a sign of weakness, lack of ambition, or moral decay. That’s when I realized how deeply brainwashed I had become by the cult of hurry. Thankfully, Carl shares a beautiful set of ideas, insights, and inspirations in this episode to help those listeners who may be struggling with a warp-speed lifestyle embrace the power of slow.
Manisha’s Top Takeaways
- Carl was surprised by how many people thanked him for the “permission” to slow down.
If you rewind 15 years, we were at the height of our obsession with speed. Slow was a metaphorical four-letter word, a scarlet letter upon your character. Those who took Carl’s advice felt a sense of relief that someone got what their bodies had been feeling for quite some time. [7:30]
- The corporate world has made halting progress toward adopting “slowness.”
In 2005, when Carl gave his TED talk, people thought mindfulness was a waste of time. Today, mindfulness is all the rage. There is a growing awareness that to thrive in a fast workplace, you need injections of calm, tranquility, and serenity. [10:20]
- Elite athletes are great role models for understanding the power of slow.
Top athletes know when to go fast and when to go slow. They train hard and then they rest deeply. Even when things are moving rapidly on the court, pitch, or field, they can access that place of momentary stillness necessary to execute the shot or make the optimal move. [13:45]
Other Major Topics
- Carl’s life-changing wake-up call [4:00]
- Carl’s favorite two words and why. [24:15]
- How the 8/8/8 rule can change your life. [26:10]
Resources Cited in the Episode
- Carl Honoré’s website and books
- “In Praise of Slowness,” Carl on the TED stage
- Japan’s “salaryman” and the visuals
- More on the concept of Inemuri: “Napping in Public? In Japan, That’s a Sign of Diligence,” The New York Times; Wikipedia
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