Slow living is a lifestyle emphasizing slower approaches to aspects of everyday life. – Parkins, Wendy; Craig, Geoffrey (2006). Slow living.
Whenever I mention slow living people look a little strung out at me. In a world of fast-paced action and never ending interactions slow living sounds positively lazy. But I think because of the constant demands we have in our lives we need to at least take this idea on board. It’s not about being lazy. It’s not even about going back to “the good old times”. It’s about understanding why our lives are so hectic, and many times exhausting.
Think about it…
Why in the 21st Century when we have every technical object to hand to save us time, 101 ways to communicate and opportunities not only to work less hours, but work differently do we find ourselves so stressed out?
What is slow living?
I think we know the answer to the above question. Maybe it’s time we should start looking for the alternatives. Rather than being faster, we should actually be slowing down because by doing so it allows us to focus out attention entirely. And since when was that a bad thing? I think we’ve just forgotten how to do it.
Slow living doesn’t mean walking and talking at a snail’s pace (unless you want to). Neither is it about being lazy or sleeping all day.
I discovered slow living, quite by chance when I was younger. I was going through a bad patch. Everything felt on top of me and I wasn’t coping very well. It was the summer holidays and I needed to keep focussed on Uni work but I couldn’t. As it happened one of my friends was looking for a summer job and had found a farm a few miles away that was hiring fruit pickers. It paid a mere 15p a punnet.
That was the best summer I ever had.
I discovered that picking raspberries was actually extremely soul building. I was able to get to and from the job under my own steam and I worked the hours I wanted to. Nothing was set in stone, the amount I wanted to earn was up to me. But it was so much more than that. I had time to get my thoughts together while enjoying the sunshine and the simplicity of the work. I came away from that summer feeling a lot better and more focused than I’d ever been. Unfortunately, 15p a punnet wasn’t going to see me through Uni but it did allow me to temporarily see life at a different speed, a vision I took away with me.
In the end, I think slow living is all about concentrating only on what really matters in your life and cutting the crap out of it. Important and crap will have different meanings for everyone.
- It’s about worker better, not faster.
- It means saying no to things and to people that don’t add value to your life, or bring you joy.
- It means appreciating what you have rather than always wanting more.
- It means stop competing. You’ll never win, life is too short. Spend it adding value not trying to get one up on someone else.
- It means getting your work done thoroughly but without fuss.
It also means spending more time enjoying simple yet fundamental things in life:
- Home cooked food
- A cup of tea/coffee
- Local parks
- Walks on the beach
- Growing your own food
- Helping others
- Just sitting still and spending time thinking (or meditating).
Of course, some people won’t enjoy doing any of those things and that’s okay. You have to find those things you do enjoy doing. Don’t mistake enjoyment for materialism like I have in the past. It’s an easy mistake to make until you realise that buying something gives you temporary enjoyment whereas slow living brings enjoyment to your life every day.
It takes thoughtful practice to get into slow living. I’m still learning.
I can still get tempted by shiny things and I can’t always avoid life’s hectic schedules. Social media is my biggest distraction that I still find hard to avoid. But in areas I can control my life is less about ensuring I’m up to date in fashion, food, travel and TV programmes and more about spending time outside, enjoying people’s company, practising mindfulness and seeing the world in different ways.
Where do you find slow living? The best bit about this is that it’s already here. You just have to tap into it. Below are 10 ideas.
10 ideas in Slow Living
- Rather than TV head for some books. Use reading as a pleasure. Take that TV time, make a nice cup of tea and just engross yourself in a book.
- Take a walk. Anywhere, anytime. Walking allows for spontaneity. It also gives you much needed to time to think and look at the world around you.
- Have a go at growing something – a flower, a vegetable, a tree. Don’t be afraid to try it. Make it yours.
- Take a moment and just listen to yourself. What are you saying? What is your body asking for? Is it tired? Or hungry? Or lonely? Embrace the feeling and tell yourself you’re going to fix it. This can be quite unnerving at first, but stick with it. The feelings are very real – don’t ignore them, embrace them.
- Say no to the next engagement/social event/meeting you feel you don’t need nor want to attend. And don’t feel guilty. Instead, tell yourself that time can be better spent with people or on work that can bring better outcomes.
- Then say no to another one…
- Purposely spend time with someone you love. Don’t just take them for granted, really pay attention to what they are saying.
- Think about where your money goes on the next item you purchase. Is it local? Will the profits go towards something sustainable? Don’t buy for convenience – buy to make a difference. If you don’t know if your money makes a difference ask the person or company you’re buying it from.
- Enjoy every mouthful at your next meal. Take time to appreciate the flavours and textures. Don’t just eat for the sake of it. Eat and enjoy it. Much time and energy has gone into the food that was grown and the time spent creating the meal.
- Create something. That novel you’ve always said you could write, that painting you always wanted to start. If the idea of creating something feels you with joy and excitement then make time for it. If you feel that way every time you think of it, then it means it’s important.
That was just a few ideas. There are many, many more out there. It may seem odd to slow down but maybe we just need to look at things from a different angle. Question what has become the status-quo, and begin to really live again.
Want to find out more?
Simple Living Resources that I’ve found useful to tap in and out of:
- Huffington Post
- Marks Daily Apple
- Slow it Down
- Zen Habits
- Slow Food Movement TEDx Video
- RSA – The Slow Revolution Video
Question of the week:
What is the easiest aspect of life that we can all slow down in?
Until next week Greenies. Have a great Green week 🙂