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STEP BACK FROM THE RAT RACE

Q: My life seems to move a million miles a second and there never seems to be enough time. Are there any small changes I can make to make my life seem like it's slowing down?

A: Indeed there are. When you say, "My life seems to move," it implies that there is a part of you that is watching your life moving so fast. That part of you is called "the observer." When you "step back" and observe yourself, it's as though you temporarily remove yourself from the chaos. Instead of being in the rat race, you're watching it. It's a small shift in perception that will seem like you've made an enormous change.

The best way to do this is to become consciously still. First thing in the morning is great, if you can manage, but anytime of the day will do. All that's required is a few minutes -- maybe five to 10 -- where you can sit still, listen to your breath and observe what's going on -- in your mind and all around you. This is a type of active meditation, if you will, that is likely to get you in the habit of slowing down. The quality of your life will improve as a result.

Cut down on the chores

Q: With three kids and five of us in the house, I feel like we're always doing laundry and, of course, other household chores. This may seem trivial, but it takes tons of time and it seems wasteful and expensive. Any advice?

A: I don't think it's trivial at all, although I do think it's easy to make a dent in the problem. With only four of us living in one home, we felt very much the same way!

One simple idea is to have everyone use their towels at least twice before you wash them, keeping track of whose towel is whose and hanging them up to dry instead of immediately tossing them into the dirty clothes hamper. We started adding up the numbers and it was a little scary. It was hard for me to believe at first, but we were using somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-50 towels a week. That's a lot of wash and a lot of waste!

By simply using the towels twice, we cut that number in half. We're saving lots of time because there's less to wash, fold and put away. But more than that, we're saving money, energy, and water. It's a simple suggestion, but if you're not already doing so, give it a try. It's a small change that makes a big difference! And, of course, this is only one symbolic and creative suggestion out of hundreds you may be able to think of on your own!

Richard Carlson is the author of "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff." E-mail comments or questions to EasierThanYouThinkdontsweat.com.

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