What is slow living, and how can you incorporate this philosophy into your life? Get some tricks and ideas and learn the amazing benefits of slow living.
In the middle of 2008, daunted by the prospect of yet another move, I persuaded my partner that we’d be better off selling everything and moving into a furnished apartment. She was skeptical only until I reminded her of my exceptionally poor packing skills.
We felt the benefits of our unencumbered lifestyle almost immediately. However, it was only once we sold our car a year later that we really noticed a significant improvement. Commuting on foot, by bicycle or with public transport, forced us to slow down.
Sure, life is easier when you have a car. But you’re also isolated from the world around you. There’s no opportunity to share the time of day with a stranger or greet the dog out for a walk with its human.
WHAT EXACTLY IS SLOW LIVING?
There’s more to slow living than not driving, though. It’s about taking your foot off the gas, metaphorically speaking, as well. We’re always rushing, always looking for a way to speed things up, when what we should be doing is figuring out how to slow them down.
Slow living is about finding joy in the moment. It’s ditching the mod cons that make life easier. It’s walking instead of driving. It’s baking from scratch instead of from a box. It’s writing a letter instead of an email. It’s about calling instead of sending a text message. It’s cooking dinner instead of dining out.
People who live in the world’s Blue Zones have slow living down to a fine art. For them, moving naturally, downshifting, spending time with loved ones and enjoying a sense of belonging, is a way of life.
GETTIN’ HYGGE WITH IT
The Danes have something similar. They call it hygge (pronounced hue-guh). They use the word to describe a feeling or moment as cosy, charming or special. What’s great about it is that there aren’t really any hygge rules.
You can experience hygge at home or when you’re out. You can enjoy it alone and in the company of others. It’s the feeling or moment that matters, not who you’re with, where you are or how extraordinary it was (or wasn’t).
Hygge is about celebrating the moments. Life requires that we check the tasks off our to-do list, but while this provides a sense of accomplishment, it rarely give us something to remember. We need the moments to make the memories.
HOW DO YOU SLOW DOWN WHEN LIVE IS BUSY?
With your spouse, your children and your high-powered job all vying for your attention, how on earth are you supposed to find the time to slow down? At first glance, it can seem like an impossible feat.
It boils down to priorities. You need to decide what’s most important and then figure out a way to do more of that and less of the other stuff. Nobody reaches the end of their life wishing they’d worked more.
By downsizing your life you reduce your monthly expenses, which in turn creates the possibility for working fewer hours or finding a less demanding job. Because life is about more than soaring up the corporate ladder.
You also need to have solid time boundaries in place to safeguard your energy. Learn to say no to the things that don’t serve you and yes to the ones that do. The people that matter to you (including you) will appreciate it.
In the wise words of Bernard M. Baruch, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
6 BENEFITS OF SLOW LIVING
There are so many benefits to just slowing down for a while. We humans are more stressed and overworked than we’ve ever been, and it’s not doing us any good. Life in the slow lane brings with it numerous benefits.
1. You’ll Be Healthier
By walking more, driving less and preparing your own food from scratch, you can’t help but improve your health. If our Blue Zones centenarians are anything to go by, you’ll live longer, too.
2. You’ll Get More Exercise
Leaving the car at home and walking or cycling to work, the store or even around the block means you’ll be getting more exercise than you did before. The fitter you get, the more you’ll want to move.
3. Your Relationships Will Improve
Slowing down gives you the opportunity to be fully present with the people around you. You’re able to properly engage with your partner and kids or simply enjoy a meaningful conversation with a close friend.
4. You’ll Be Less Stressed
Rushing from one thing to the next just makes you anxious, it doesn’t necessarily help you get more done. The more you slow down, the less stressed you become.
5. You’ll Have More Time
The more you slow down, the more you’ll want to slow down. You’ll come to realize that the things you thought were urgent actually aren’t. With that realization comes a bounty of leisure time.
6. You’ll Be Happier
You’ll find that you’re healthier, fitter, less stressed, your relationships have improved and you have more time. Of course you’ll be happier!
Remember, it’s not about coming to a completely standstill. Slow living is about pumping the brakes long enough to notice and appreciate the world around you.