You’re busy. You have a life. But slow is for you, despite how it sounds on the surface. Sometime it is easier to find understanding in something when we can see what that thing is not.
Slow living is NOT:
- Doing everything slowly.
It’s about doing things at the proper pace; the pace that feels good to you and reaps the most benefits. Carl Honoré explains in his book, In Praise of Slow, that the ideas behind the slow movement are not anti-speed, but rather doing things at the correct speed. And that can be different for different people and varying tasks. Honoré says, “Slow means being present, living each moment fully, putting quality before quantity in everything from work and sex to food and parenting.”
The point, in my own words, is to not rush through life’s many moments, but to become aware of them, thankful for them, and experience them fully. There is a time and a place for quickness, but efficiency doesn’t always mean high-speed, and productivity needn’t always end in burn-out.
- An excuse to ditch your responsibilities.
You’re an adult (or at least kind of, right?), so do your adult things — just do them with more intention. Discovering with purpose what priorities you truly care most about can help you navigate to a place of more joy, despite the daunting responsibilities we all carry.
You need to pay your bills. But you don’t need to take your kid to soccer practice, dance class, music lessons, and football. Slow down; take control of your time and choices by saying no. Discover what your family’s needs truly are, and go from there. I give you permission to start at the bare minimum — it won’t make you an inefficient employee or bad parent, it will open your eyes to the excess.
- Meant to be a chore.
Embracing a slow living lifestyle doesn’t mean adding more to our already ever-growing to do lists; it’s about simply noticing the things we are already doing. It’s a tool to help you find joy in the aspects of your life. Implementing slow activities (like early morning yoga or tea time) are designed to help you tackle your list, not be a daunting task that you feel pressured to check off. Taking a break to check in with ourselves is crucial, and if we can’t make time for the things we enjoy without stressing about it… well that’s hardly a life worth loving. Experiment with practices that help you feel engaged, set you up for calmer mornings, and make you a happier being.
- Laziness or boringness.
There is some real work that goes into the purpose of slow living, but it is so worth it. This work is joyful, and the benefits can be epiphany-like. And it’ll be completely individualized based on your own values, families, and responsibilities. It’s not about doing nothing; it’s about doing less to make room for more. As I mentioned above, slow living certainly shouldn’t feel like a chore, but it is the opposite of lazy. Boredom comes from a lack of engagement, and slow living is all about engaging; discovering how to best move through the world is a task that requires intention, attention, and constant reevaluating.
- Going back to “olden times.”
I’m not saying we all need to live like our great grandparents — I love the internet. Slow living to you may not look like building a log cabin from scratch, but it may look like making a meal from scratch. It may not look like sewing your own clothes, but it may look like putting in some online research to buy your clothes from ethically responsible companies. It may not look like grandma’s handwritten postcards, but it may look like taking a few minutes to FaceTime a friend and reconnect. Technology is amazing and can enrich our lives in many ways, but it can also lead us to missing out. Find a balance between what’s practical for you and what connects you to your tasks — use technology as a tool, not a crutch.
I hope these key points have helped you gain a bit more of an understanding and appreciation for slow living. To wrap things up, here’s a list of a few more things that slow living definitely is not:
1. watching cat videos until 2am (I’ve learned this many times over).
2. all white walls and mason jars (Pinterest comparison is soul-crushing).
3. pretending to like yoga (it’s okay, just try something else).
4. wearing only bathrobes (but I wish it was).
5. never texting back (you’ll stay connected if the relationship is important).
6. wandering off into the wilderness barefoot (it sounds cool until the mosquitoes get you).
7. forgetting to water your houseplants (love everything you bring into your home).
8. having houseplants (or just go for the fake ones to simplify your routine).
9. only reading self-help books (you’re missing out on some seriously great stories).
10. forcing your children to wear linen overalls (your kids don’t even have to match — I promise it’s okay).