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Festina Lente! (Make Haste Slowly!)

Updated on July 12, 2011
Don't run like a stick figure without a soul.  Hurrying slowly is the way to do it.
Don't run like a stick figure without a soul. Hurrying slowly is the way to do it.

Photo Credit: esbjorn2 on Flickr

Ever get the feeling that your whole life is an extended rush hour?

Ah, the joys of rush hour.  Inching along in traffic, commuters honking like crazy.  City streets so bustling with activity that you cannot walk; you must passively wait to be "pushed along" by the crowd.  It takes forever to get from point A to point B.  Don't you just love it?!

Well, modern life sometimes seems like that.  We're so busy rushing to do things--to get to work, to get to school, to get the kids off to school, to get this project done, to plan that event, to run errands--that we end up accomplishing two things:

  • Missing out on life's simple pleasures
  • Making mistakes; doing things not as well as you could

Such things can be avoided if we learn the fine art of hurrying slowly.

Life can zoom by so fast that it sometimes looks like a blur.
Life can zoom by so fast that it sometimes looks like a blur.

Photo Credit: E.HOBA on Flickr

Time for a Latin lesson!

The Latin phrase "festina lente" is an imperative literally meaning "make haste slowly." If you haven't guessed by now. (That was a short lesson...)

It's a simple statement that's actually full of wisdom. It means you should strike a balance between urgency and thoroughness, between swiftness and thoughtfulness, between getting things done on time and getting things done right.

If you hurry slowly to get to work on time, you're more likely to be calm, polished, and not forget the essential things like your keys, phone, etc.--and you just might get there on time! If you're a student and you hurry slowly to study and get your homework done, you can really get into the subject matter, focus, understand things. Before you know it, you're done and you can relax. Time really flies by when you slow down and appreciate the task at hand. Not only that, you're more likely to come out of it with peace one piece.

Slow down, Speedy! Here's how...

1. Learn to enjoy the process in everything you do.

When you really appreciate being alive, you understand that every breath you breathe is a privilege. The health and strength you have to do simple things are even more riches that serve us well every day.

So in something as mundane as going to the supermarket, enjoy the thought that you're picking out fresh food to prepare delicious meals for yourself, family and friends. When you walk the dog, enjoy the attention you're getting from people from having such a cute dog. (That is, if the dog is cute. If Fido is a 60-pound bulldog with a permanent snarl...well, appreciate the fact that he likes you at least. Sometimes.)

It applies to more stressful situations too. When you're under pressure to write an essay or term paper, appreciate the academic challenge set before you, know you can do it, and dive into what you find most interesting about the subject at hand. When you're late for something, appreciate the fact that you're human, imperfect yet striving to make yourself better. Even though your boss/professor/dentist/date might not appreciate your tardiness (especially if, God forbid, those are all the same person), know that they're human too, and that your sincere apology will likely elicit an empathetic pardon.

The point is, be creative with it. There are ways to appreciate every situation, whether pressure-filled or not.

2. Seek to be an individual of diginity and character.  Do nothing without giving it your personal best.

You might say, even things like washing the dishes, spring cleaning, taking the kids to school, visiting elderly relatives?  The answer is yes.  The idea here is that, if you get used to giving your all in every situation--that is, really investing yourself emotionally and striving to do the best job you could ever do--you'll naturally have that mindset under pressure and time constraints.

You won't find a proud carpenter who builds a shabby table; you wouldn't find a dignified schoolteacher who glosses over a history lesson; you'll never encounter a principled surgeon who's satisfied to leave his patient with open surgical wounds.  Those are examples of pressure-filled jobs in which people nonetheless have to do their jobs thoroughly and with as much excellence as possible.  Surely, we can take that same attitude of "grace under fire" in our everyday lives.  It will serve us well when a demanding or time-sensitive situation does arise.

A simple truth.
A simple truth.

Photo Credit: jronaldlee on Flickr

3. Reduce nervousness and anxiety in your life.

Sometimes anxiety is the root cause of rushing like a madman. It's one of those universal human experiences, a thing that connects us all: we all feel it from time to time. It's a natural response to pressure and external stressors.

If you handle it right, you can actually use the rush of adrenaline to fuel your success. For example, if you're studying for an exam or have a project to complete by a certain deadline, you naturally feel anxious, but you can harness that nervous energy to decide you'll think logically, outline what you need to do, and push yourself to complete the work. If you're nervous before a speech, an audition, a recital or a concert, you can teach yourself to embrace the flutters in your stomach and let them propel you into the performance.

For some of us though, it permeates other aspects of our lives, even when we're not under dire pressure. Sometimes it arises from worrying about various things endlessly. Sometimes it comes from the silly notion that we're inadequate or unacceptable in some way. We can trim away some of this extraneous anxiety from our lives in the following ways:

  • Carve out of your schedule a few quiet, peaceful hours (or as much time as possible) each day to sit back and relax. Schedule a "no worries" time for yourself.
  • Take a deep breath every now and then. Learn some meditative exercises.
  • Get more physical exercise.
  • Eat a healthy, nature-based diet.
  • Get a good night's sleep.
  • Get a breath of fresh air by going for a nice walk or jog.
  • Separate yourself from people who are always complaining/criticizing/self-pitying, refusing to have a positive outlook.
  • Every day, do little creative things (e.g., taking photographs, writing in your journal, practicing a musical instrument) that are "easy" for you to do and come naturally to you, thus building up your self-confidence in baby steps.

Sometimes these things don't completely work, and you might consider talking to a trusted friend or a professional. And that's OK, too. It's worth it to reduce anxiety and learn how to "hurry slowly."

4. Learn the art of improvisation.

"Winging it" is a skill that really comes in handy sometimes. It's really a matter of thinking outside the box when it comes to sticky situations in life. If you develop this skill, pressurized situations will become a piece of cake for you. Well, sort of.

I'm not saying you have to have a brilliantly creative, spontaneous character or mind either. Some basic examples of how I loosely define "improvisation" are multitasking, delegating responsibilities to friends and family, asking for help for things you don't know about or can't do by yourself. The key is to function well in the moment and make use of all available resources, no matter what's thrown at you.

Sherlock Holmes: a detective famous for his inquisitive, improvisational mind.

Jason Bourne is another fictional character that's pretty good at improvisation...but he will use that against you if you get in his way...

The benefits of hurrying slowly are obvious. You'd be much less stressed-out if you learn to calmly carry out your tasks, regardless of time constraints. Instead of speeding ahead like a Roadrunner fueled by coffee, Coca-Cola and coke (yeah, those last two are different things), watching life go by in a dizzying blur, relax and enjoy the moment. There is such a thing as doing things well and doing them in a timely fashion.

And so I say to all of you my friends, embrace the key to efficient living: Festinate Lente!

That's the plural version, by the way.

Click is a great comedy, a humorous yet unexpectedly poignant film about the consequences of hurrying through life. A philosophical exploration of the meaning and nature of time. Highly recommended!

Do you "hurry slowly?"

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Dear Bennie,

      I went back to reread your great article looking for a line : when you feel stuck or guilt the best thing is to : ACT! I need to do this and wondered, if I have your article mixed up with some other article?

      Thank you for your reply!


    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Greetings Benny,

      Thank you for the wonderful article!

      I just realized that I have been lost in my life by hurrying too much, and not planning ahead so that one can enjoy ones work etc.

      The phrase "Control With Abandon" comes to mind too when I read your words.

      This will be sent and shared with my friends as we all need to slow down and enjoy the focus of our momentary lives.



    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Not only do you point out how to 'Make Haste Slowly' but you've added some wisdom that we should all heed, "appreciate being alive" and "investing yourself emotionally" could be creedos for life! This was a great hub that made for a great read. Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 

      7 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      My pleasure - and thanks for the return favor.

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Neil Sperling, I never thanked you--but I am doing so now! Appreciate the link my friend.

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Thanks RTalloni! They certainly are useful.

    • RTalloni profile image


      7 years ago from the short journey

      Interesting info you share here. Practical thinking and practical skills are good things!

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 

      7 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      Cool - fits something I wrote - Full Speed Ahead, One Inch At A Time.... I'm off to link this hub to mine. Thanks

      Done - you are now linked on my hubs bottom....

      Great HUb!

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Wayne: Thanks for sharing that story. Some people really have "hurrying slowly" down to a science, and it's awe-inspiring to see them work. They're often unfazed by things that would frustrate us. And there's nothing like someone who takes real pride in his or her work--it's such a rare quality that it's truly impressive to come across it.

      equealla: It's scary how much I relate to you, my friend! I have also gone on a hiatus from HubPages, due to similar "busyness"--but like you, I feel like it's definitely time to make a comeback and rediscover why I love this site so much. I'm glad my hub was a good read for you!

      Tankadin: You're welcome!

      agvulpes: Thanks so much for the Twitter endorsement! We have to remember not to let the pace of life over take us, but rather to set our own pace, and take a deep breath and "go with the flow" as much as possible.

    • agvulpes profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      I keep telling my son 'You must hurry more slowly'

      This Hub is a very good read and love your take on the 'rush-rush' life we tend to lead. I will put into practice your public speaking tips.

      Thank you for this very useful Hub and I will Twitter it now!

    • Tankadin profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for this advice, very good.

    • equealla profile image


      7 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      You are talking about delegating some of the things to do, to weigh down the stress.

      Well, the reason I haven't been extremely inter-active with my beloved HubPages friends, was :"Overstressed people had delegated a lot of their stress onto my shoulders" I knew I was in for a rough ride, and decided not to partake in the 60 day challenge, and not to do too much writing, providing space for the new responsibilities. It helped...

      I am closing the end of all the duties now, and wow, am I stressed at the moment. So, will you honestly believe me, when I say, I love you for posting this specific article. It was timely and like the best medicine I ever received.

      Now I will go take a lavender bath, drink B vits, take a long drive into the country, tomorrow morn, with my dogs, and meditate :FESTINA LENTE, FESTINA LENTE!

      Thanks for being a right friend, at the right time, on the right spot!

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Recently, I had a tile contractor in my home to complete some tile work on the floors and shower of the master bath. I was continually impressed by his knowledge, his thoroughness, and how organized he was within his workspace...everything was kept clean in order. His was a learned art handed down from his father and his father before him. He took tremendous pride in not only doing a good job but doing it correctly at every step. We need a lot more of that inspiration today and more resolve not to have to do everything twice. Thanks for a well-written and thorough article! WB

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Thanks Minnetonka Twin! If we'd only slow down when appropriate, we'd get so much more out of life.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      7 years ago from Minnesota

      You did a nice job of helping to remind people that to slow down is a good thing. In this society we need to re-examine how we rush our lives away.

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Great tips raychard! I definitely have to keep those in mind.

    • raychard profile image


      7 years ago from Galway Bay, Ireland

      As an actor at one stage of my life I learned this simple trick before Public Speaking. As you walk to the podium have a little smile on your face and let out your breath slowly.

      Remember there are about 200 muscles in your face. Smiling relaxes them. Letting out your breath slowly puts you in control. By the time you get to the podium you will be smiling and ready to take a deep breath....

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Ms Dee: Thanks a lot! Glad you found my suggestions useful...I was hoping they would be!

      breakfastpop: That's the way to do it, my friend :)

      crazybeanrider: Your compliments make me feel warm and fuzzy once again. Yes, we would all benefit from slowing down and appreciating moments in time. You're right: it's kind of scary to see the "instant gratification" zeitgeist take a hold of the Internet/technology era...

      Jai: Aptly put my friend..."Hell on earth" indeed. The more we start seeing each day for the gift it is, the more we'll experience contentment and a sense that "life is good."

      raychard: Just looked up that poem. I love it! And it is in keeping with the principle of "hurrying slowly," appreciating life in moments. Thanks for sharing!

      SilentReed: Wow...I'm far from being a monk, but I feel honestly humbled to know my writing has suggested that! Not only were the Zen masters on to something, they tapped into simple concepts that made for a more peaceful, more harmonious life--a thing within the reach of every man, woman and child if they're simply willing to appreciate the miracle of life.

    • SilentReed profile image


      7 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you for sharing your art of Zen. Reading your hub made me wonder if you ever were in a monastery. In practical matters, the zen masters were also good at "wingng it". :)

    • raychard profile image


      7 years ago from Galway Bay, Ireland

      Yeah. As The Poet Wrote...

      "What is life

      If full of care,

      We have not time

      To stand and stare..."



    • Jai Warren profile image

      Jai Warren 

      7 years ago from Dallas, Deep Ellum, Texas

      People have to realize that every day is a gift. The more time we spend appreciating our talents and accomplishments, the more fulfilling our lives are. Rushing around mindlessly DOING THINGS, isn't living. It's hell on earth. Do things that are essential and meaningful, with patience and purpose. Great Hub and great advice Benny! Ciao.

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 

      7 years ago from Washington MI

      I so enjoyed this hub. In this world of instant everything we need to be reminded that we are forgetting to LIVE. When the freshmen in college are saying e-mail is to slow, it makes me wonder what they are missing. You are an excellent writer :)

    • breakfastpop profile image


      7 years ago

      Great advice that I read very, very slowly!

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Voted up and useful! I like the variety of suggestions you offer for our consideration. Thanks!

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Thanks hubpageswriter for the praise! I totally agree with you. Slowing ourselves down is really necessary to preserve our sanity and enjoyment of life. Not only are we happier when we do that; our work improves as well.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi Benny, great strong hub here. I do find that sometimes life is just too fast-paced and everything needs to be done in a hurry, rushing us and so hence and so forth. It would be very great to be able to slow down, just a little, and enjoy the surroundings. Work sometimes can pull one down, so to be able to draw the lines between relaxation, appreciating life's beautiful moments and having to work to survive will be very hard. But we must strive for if not, our sanity is at stake due to all these rushes. Superb hub.:)

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Vern: Haha, the "all rolled up into one" scenario just came to me after I realized I used slashes! I'm rereading and thinking, wait a minute, that sounds like all one person--that would be a real horror story! And with the "fashionably late" thing you're starting to sound like one of my old professors...Interesting story about the phrase "with excellence." It's really an awesome principle to have ingrained within you, especially when under pressure. Thanks for the read and kind comments.

      Mentalist acer: Certain deadline racing, passion of moments is a fluid pain...I had worked with abandon, my work a steady machine, abandoning me. :)

    • vrbmft profile image

      Vernon Bradley 

      7 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Forgot one more comment about hurrying slowly. I heard the phrase "with excellence" used a lot during a leadership training program some years back, and I have always remembered it, and it often pops up for me. I want to accomplish this task whatever it is, with excellence and that does not necessarily mean perfectly, but simply with excellence. And even if I am in a rush, I can still use excellence as the standard.

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      With a deadline on my shoulders and working with hazardous chemicals...steady but sure pace was the norm;)

    • vrbmft profile image

      Vernon Bradley 

      7 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      I enjoy your style and your humor. I "love" the possibility of my dentist, my boss, my date, etc etc all being the same person!! Talk about an anxious, exciting, and complicated boundaryless life. But it's great imagining it!!

      I discovered a few years back that I get quite the adrenalin rush leaving my house late and arriving no more than five minutes late to the class I teach!! Late all the same. It is a three hour class, so what is a few minutes and folks are coming from long distances so it is not uncommon that the participants or students are also late!! I finally decided with a little prompting from a new dean, that I would be healthier without all that adrenalin. I mean speeding down the freeway two days a week, without getting a ticket and only being a few minutes late is pretty exciting!!

      All of your tips are GOOD STUFF. Breathing is usually the first thing to go under stress.

      You're quite the Latin scholar!



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