Almost there! If you haven’t already checked out the first two posts in this slow living series, you can do so below:
- Slow Living 101: What is Slow Living?
- Slow Living 201: A Deep Dive into Slow Living & The Slow Movement
How to Start a Slow Living Lifestyle
Busyness and more are the defaults today. That means that it’s ironically perceived as more difficult to live slowly and with less. But, more and more people are learning firsthand that more does not equal better. And, busy does not equal important. Busyness will not be a status symbol forever.
The first two posts in this series are meant to create awareness and share knowledge of slow living. This post is intended to help you put it all into action and practice. If you’ve ended up here, you’ve probably started asking “why” to a lot of things in your life. And, you want to start doing something about it.
Instead of only enjoying parts of your day, wouldn’t you rather enjoy all of it? Instead of a busy life, wouldn’t you rather have a full life? After all, like Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
Don’t skim the surface of your life:
- “A fast approach tends to be a superficial one, but when you slow down you begin to engage more deeply with whatever it is you’re doing. You’re also forced to confront what’s happening inside you – which is one of the reasons why I think we find it so hard to slow down. Speed becomes a form of denial. It’s a way of running away from those more deeper, tangled problems. Instead of focusing on questions like who am I, and what is my role here, it all becomes a superficial to-do list.” — Carl Honoré
5 Myths about Slow Living
This is definitely one of the biggest misperceptions. Slow living is not about living your life in slow motion. It’s about doing everything at the right speed and pacing instead of rushing. Slow living isn’t about losing time by going slowly; it’s about gaining time by doing the things that are most important to you.
I actually asked this question on Reddit to get some additional perspective. The theme was that you can live simply but not slowly, and you can live slowly but not simply. I’ve found that simple living is more focused on things (materialism, consumption, etc) and slow living is more focused on time (energy, balance, etc). Some of us choose to take the best of both worlds and live slowly and simply—think of it like a Venn diagram where there’s some overlap in the middle.
Believe it or not, I really debated about what images to use in this post series. One of the big myths of slow living is that it’s simply an unachievable aesthetic of cozy, neutral tone home decor and clothing posted on Instagram with desaturated photo filters and tagged #slowliving. This myth is so important to bust that I’m going to dedicate an entire future post about it just like I did for the minimalist aesthetic vs the minimalist lifestyle. Long story short, slow living isn’t the staged, “perfect” images you see on Instagram and Pinterest.
I read an article where the author said she was giving up slow living because she was “losing my identity.” While slow living eliminates the nonessentials from your life, the intent is to free up time so you can be more.
Slow living isn’t about traveling back in time. It’s about using technology as a tool instead of technology using you.
- “I certainly don’t blame the technology. Gadgets are neutral – they’re tools, and it’s down to how we use them. Many people think the slow movement is Luddite, but I think it’s about using technology to find the right tempo. I have an iPhone, I have wireless on my laptop, I use Twitter and Facebook – but I use all of that stuff with what I consider to be a slow spirit. I don’t feel like I’m harassed by these gadgets, or a slave to them.” — Carl Honoré
10 Ways to Get Started with Slow Living
Start by reading the busyness post series: Busyness 101, Busyness 201, and Busyness 301. You’ll realize that busyness is mostly a feeling. So, like many things in life, you have a choice. Most of the slow living tips below come after this awareness. If you remember the definitions from the first post in this series, one said “slow living is a lifestyle choice.”
- “Busy is a choice.” — Debbie Millman / Ann Voskamp
Have you really given thought to your life purpose? Have you identified the life roles that are a priority in your life? Start by figuring out what’s important.
- “Busyness is, at its core, about misplaced priorities.” — Joshua Becker, author of Becoming Minimalist
Here are several ways to get started with finding and creating your purpose:
- Spiritual Approach: Your Purpose on “A New Earth” (Eckhart Tolle Book Summary #2)
- Religious Approach: Eternal Purpose: “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren (Book Summary)
- Japanese Approach: Ikigai: The Japanese Purpose or “Reason for Being”
- Simple Approach: Life Purpose: “The Crossroads of Should and Must” by Elle Luna (Book Summary)
- Inspirational Short Story: Edit Your Purpose: The Story of the Cracked Pot
Once you start saying “no,” you can say “yes” to the things that matter most to you. You will begin to eliminate “I’m so busy!” and “I’m too busy!” from your vocabulary. Check out the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown and learn why the “secret” to gaining time is a very big waste paper basket.
- “Anytime you fail to say ‘no’ to a nonessential, you are really saying yes by default.” — Greg McKeown
Ease into it. Start with downshifting. Or, if you’re already into minimalism, use minimalism as momentum into slow living. And remember, you can’t do all the life hacks (even the best ones). A better approach is to phase them into your life one by one.
- “It’s something most of us deal with every day, often without realizing it’s there: a feeling of time scarcity. We know it well: the feeling of having too much to do and not enough time to do it all. This is true not only of work — where we have too many projects, meetings, emails, admin tasks, calls, requests, messages — but also of our personal lives. We want to exercise, eat well, meditate, learn something cool, travel, go out with friends, spend time in solitude, go for hikes, read a million books, take care of finances and errands, keep up with podcasts and news and interesting online content and our loved ones on social networks and fascinating people on social media, while finding space for contemplation and quiet. Whew.” — Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits
Break free from the unconscious default setting of your mind and start awakening to the present moment. As my dad says, “Do what you’re doing while you’re doing it.” This means when you brush your teeth, just brush your teeth. When you wash your hands, feel the water flow over them. When you eat, be mindful at mealtime and focus on the meal and people with you. This practice can even bring joy to chores like doing dishes and vacuuming the house. I actually view these “chores” as therapeutic now.
- “I frequently worry that being productive is the surest way to lull ourselves into a trance of passivity and busyness the greatest distraction from living, as we coast through our lives day after day, showing up for our obligations but being absent from our selves, mistaking the doing for the being.” — Maria Popova, author of Brain Pickings
This is one of my favorite takeaways from the books Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner and Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. We often try to fill our free time with more things to do. If you free up time in your life, don’t rush to fill it. Leave your free time as free time. It will feel like you are actually gaining time in the day even though there are still only 24 hours. And, there’s real science behind taking breaks.
- “In a slow life time will become circular, rather than linear. As opposed to a simple unit of measurement, the concept of time will expand for you as anxiety turns to joy.” — ThisSlowLife.com¹
Apply digital minimalism or a digital declutter experiment to digitally detox your life. I heard a great quote that said many of our challenges as a society today are human and not technological. Remember, our basic needs never change.
- “The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today. It could however be useful to remind everyone that our basic needs never change.” — Guttorm Fløistad
This one is easy to say and tough to execute (especially for me). It took an existential crisis before I figured this one out. Here are some tips specifically to unbusy the daily work grind.
- “Who hasn’t wanted to step off the ever-accelerating treadmill of work, and gain some balance in life? Most of us, at one time or another, have wanted to move from the fast track of life to a more satisfying, healthier, less work-focused lifestyle.” — SlowMovement.com²
Some of the most creative people in history used time blocking and went on multi-hour afternoon walks. There’s a reason you have aha moments in the shower and on walks. Get on the “forest bathing” bandwagon.
- “An EPA study found that Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors…We are, after all, animals, and it’s hard to forget that, even if some try real hard, surrounding themselves with walls, metal, glass, and screens. Those people tend to pay a price, often with their health and quality of life.” —NPR.org³
Maybe it’s Gandhi or the slow living leaders of today. Consider starting with a slow living challenge or the slow living resources at the end of this post. Over time, you’ll start to realize the power of slow and you’ll want (and even need) less and less.
- “A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet.” — Annie Dillard
That wraps up this post series on slow living! I hope you found something helpful that you are able to apply to your own life moving forward. If you did, please let me know your experience in the comments. If you’ve already been experimenting with slow living, I’d love to hear what tips you’ve personally found beneficial. Remember that slow living is the journey of a lifetime. And, you can choose the life of the fisherman at any point.
If you haven’t read the first two posts in the series, you can check them out here:
- Slow Living 101: What is Slow Living?
- Slow Living 201: A Deep Dive into Slow Living & The Slow Movement
Slow Living Resources
- Slow Living Life Hacks
- Slow Living Challenges
- Slow Living Online Forums & Communities
- Slow Living Quotes
- Slow Living Book Summaries
- Slow Living Videos
Slow LIVING POST CATEGORIES
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Your post is very interesting to read. It’s very informative and helpful.
Usually, I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up.
Thanks so much, selena!
Reading this, I thought, “I’ve found my tribe.” In a world where there’s constant pressure to do everything, I’ve always just wanted to be. Happy to hear there are others on a path toward just being where I can find support and friendship.
Welcome, Sharon! I thought the same exact thing when I discovered slow and simple living. Finally found my tribe 🙂
How do people make a living when they live slow?
Great question, Stephen. A common misconception is that intentional/simple/slow living means renouncing everything: material things, your job, etc.
The truth is that intentional living is simply a lifestyle choice. You don’t have to necessarily change your job, but you will notice that these types of people have created a purpose for their lives. Sometimes that purpose doesn’t align with your current job (this was my own personal experience).
If you want to get started finding and creating your own purpose, I recommend checking out this post: Ikigai: The Japanese Purpose or “Reason for Being”
Appreciate it, janu!
hi, I’m new to this concept. and I can say this is where I belong, I have suffered from a burnt down for 2 years due to my constant running and trying to do it all. which coast me my mental and physical health. any way that’s not way I’m writing this comment.
the thing is, even though I’m so down with slow living and minimalism. I just can’t figure HOW TO DO THE WORK without ending up in a major burnt out? it’s more like ( slow living vs productivity ) especially that l really enjoy and LOVE the things I do, but I either work myself out or I try to take it slow and I end up feeling unsatisfied and there’s no time to finish it all, either way I’m not happy with how things are.
Great point, Fatimah! I know the feeling. It seems I’m wired with a certain work ethic. However, slow living is not anti-productivity. One of the biggest benefits I’ve found is working at my natural pace. Another is applying the concept of “essentialism” (the disciplined pursuit of less but better). So, I’m working on what I believe are the most important projects, and I’m making progress on them at my own natural pace. I’ve found that this leads to a place of contentment and balance (a “middle way” between ambition and unsatisfied).
Just found your blog today, via this post. I love your writing style, and this post was exceptionally helpful. Glad you found your life’s purpose and are willing to share with the rest of us.
Thanks so much, Tammy. Welcome to Sloww!
I liked the article, it is very helpful for me. I wish there would be some practical examples in Tip#6. I mean I don’t know how to creat space and margin in my life.
Glad to hear it’s helpful, Sahar! In regards to creating space and margin, some practical tips include: leaving unscheduled time in your calendar, taking frequent breaks throughout the day, practicing meditation, slowing down your pace, and practicing essentialism by simply doing less (but better).
So for a while now, i have not been alligned with my coperate fast paced job, and i broke down with stress/angst 5 weeks ago. I just keep thinking why i am spending all these work hours on things i dont care about. Then the words slow living got into my brain about a week ago, and it felt like home. Today i found your website, and i cant wait to read it all, in my own pace. I truly feel a calling to living life more in balance and i dont think i can go back to my coperate job – it would feel like cheating on myself, if that makes sense.
Thanks for some great reads:-)
Sounds very familiar, Liselotte! In regards to feeling like “cheating on myself,” I know what you mean. I think I experienced cognitive dissonance during/after my existential crisis.
Slow lifestyle is happy life. I must say. This is true. Thank you for the post.
You got it, Andrea.
Hey Kyle. I just saw your website today. I have read your 3 posts and like them. But will slow living work for people who want to earn passive income and do their best in lives and at work?
Hey Vin – Absolutely! Slow living is actually what allows for doing your best in life and at work. And, regarding passive income, that’s exactly what I’m building with Sloww. So, “yes” to all!
Hi Kyle. I am new to blogging and slow living. I currently have a corporate job and the pandemic has allowed me the space to really reflect on the life I am building and what is important to me. I grew up thinking being busy and working really really hard would lead to a fulfilled life, but that is just not the case. On my blogging journey, I would love to create a series of incorporating these 10 steps into my life. I just wanted to make sure this was okay with you first? I will of course link to your blog!
I am so excited to dive deeper into your content.
Thank you for all of the time you have put into this!
Of course, Madi! Just please give attribution to Sloww and link back here. All the best on your blogging journey!
My sister in law recently passed away and I have been feeling sad and empty . I was looking for answers to why and what’s life’s purpose and came upon your page. I love it! Thank you for Sloww!
I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, Kalia. You stumbled into the right place; lots of purpose/meaning content on this site!