Is it more difficult to squeeze out a secret from a clinical psychologist? For argument sake, we’re going to say it is. So it was fun to hear Stephanie Brown, PhD, who grew up and lives in Menlo Park — and who has spent almost all of her professional career here — admit that, at heart, she’s a New Yorker. “I felt that way before I ever went there,” she says. “But that doesn’t mean I’m not a loyal Menlo Park person!”
We were not visiting with Stephanie to talk about civic boosterism, though. Rather we were at the Addictions Institute, which she heads, to learn about the new book she’s written, one that she hopes will stand Silicon Valley types on their head — or at the very least, cause some people to stop and think. Called Speed: Facing Our Addiction to Fast and Faster — and Overcoming Our Fear of Slowing Down, it’s plea is for people to slow down and shed the addictive behavior of busy-ness.
“Everybody is always in a rush,” she says. “Everybody is always behind. There’s this belief that people should do it all and never stop. People are behaving in out of control ways, fueled by the belief that they are entitled.
“You see all of this rushing around and all of the excitement. But you also see people starting to burn out.”
Stephanie, who is both an M-A and Hillview School grad, stresses that her suggested prescription for change is nothing radical. “But we are at a tipping point,” she says, “and that’s when people can start talking.
“They are seeing that they’re dropping balls. They’re saying multi-tasking doesn’t work for them anymore. They’re beginning to move away from being driven by impulse.
“People have come to believe that they have to act immediately. But that’s not the case.
“To slow down, people need only to take very small steps, first by creating awareness and asking, ‘What are we sacrificing for progress? How are we fooling ourselves?’ It can then become trendy to slow down and focus.”
Photo by Irene Searles