Almost there! If you haven’t already checked out the first two posts in this 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
Busy 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.
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? After all, like Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” And, you can choose the life of the fisherman at any point.
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
1) Slow living is about doing everything as slowly as possible: 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.
2) Slow living is the same as simple living: 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. 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.
3) Slow living is a look/aesthetic: 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. Long story short, slow living isn’t the staged, “perfect” images you see on Instagram or Pinterest.
4) Slow living is about doing and being less: 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.
5) Slow living is anti-technology: 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
1) Recognize that busyness is a choice: Like many things in life, you have a choice. Most of the changes 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
Busyness is, at its core, about misplaced priorities. — Joshua Becker
3) Say “no” to everything else: 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 Essentialism by Greg McKeown and why the “secret” to gaining time is a very big waste paper basket.
Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy…What, I wonder, do these busy folks get done? — Søren Kierkegaard
4) Start slow and small: 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. Take some inspiration from what Cait Flanders did in her year of slow living experiments.
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
5) Try to be present (even in the mundane): 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, focus on the meal and the 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
6) Create space and margin in your life: This is one of my favorite takeaways from the books Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner and Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequest. 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. (Source)
7) Start a slow information diet: 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
8) Put your life before work: This one is easy to say and tough to execute (especially for me). It took an existential crisis before I figured this one out.
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. (Source)
9) Get outside: 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. (Source)
10) Find inspiration in the slow living community: Whether it’s Gandhi or the slow living leaders of today. Or, consider starting with a slow living challenge. Over time, you’ll start to realize the power of slow and you’ll want (or 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
One More Slow Living Book for You
Make sure you also check out the book lists in the 101 and 201 posts. This final book is a new one being released on July 10, 2018!
Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary
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.
Slow Living Resources
Also published on Medium.