In the era of constant hustle and the pursuit of productivity, I was drawn to a different path. One of less haste and a slower pace, one that I set myself. This is the path known as slow living. An alternative to the fast-paced, stress-filled life that our modern society so often promotes and produces in our lives. It’s an intentional shift in perspective, a choice to prioritize the quality of our moments over the quantity of our tasks.
I work hard each day but do it at my pace, on my terms, and for myself. My top priority is not earning more money and doing more work; it’s doing what I enjoy when I want to and fitting into the context of my complete life. I optimize my life for happiness, ease, and enjoyment, not hustling every minute and hour of the day. Working smart will take you farther than working hard; if you work smart and hard, you will be unstoppable. The key is to turn work into play by focusing on your passions and then doing the work on a schedule that optimizes your work energy. Everyone is different.
What is slow living?
Slow living isn’t just about slowing down. It’s about embracing a more intentional and meaningful approach to life. It focuses on quality over quantity, simplicity over complexity, and presence over distraction. By adopting these principles of slow living, we can alleviate our stress and anxiety, inviting peace, joy, and satisfaction into our daily life.
You can cultivate the following eight habits to create more enjoyment in your day-to-day experience. Let’s slow down and focus on what is most important.
1. Practice mindfulness in the present moment
Mindfulness encourages us to immerse ourselves entirely in our current activity. It could be as simple as savoring the taste of your morning coffee, paying attention to the sensation of warm sunlight on your skin, or noticing the rhythm of your breath as you sit quietly. The beauty of mindfulness lies in its simplicity – it requires nothing more than your presence and attention. Mindfulness slows down the pace of our lives and can bring peace as we focus on the present moment escaping the memories of the past and the perceived urgent tasks waiting for us in the future. Be cautious of getting trapped in a lifestyle that is so fast-paced it creates mindlessness.
2. Disconnect from technology for set periods
Unplugging can feel liberating in a world of constant notifications and digital noise. Try setting aside specific times when you step away from screens during the day. It could be during meals, before bedtime, or even a few hours in the afternoon. This daily period of digital detox allows you to connect more authentically with your family and your thoughts. Intermittent digital fasting can give you periods of peace without external noise from social media, emails, texts, and notifications. If you want to slow down, escape your phone.
3. Engage in relaxing activities
Pursue activities that bring you joy and relaxation. It might be losing yourself in the pages of a captivating book, tending to your garden, sitting by the pool, lake, or beach, immersing in the soothing melodies of classical music, or engaging in a fun, slow-paced game. These leisure moments are not just pastimes; they are essential to living a balanced and fulfilling life. Diversify your time and life to include enjoyable, peaceful, fun, and relaxing activities. Everyone is different, so choose your personal favorite.
4. Spend time in nature daily
A daily dose of nature can work wonders for your well-being. This could mean a brisk walk in your local park, time at the beach or lake, a mountain hike, or simply enjoying a beautiful sunrise or sunset from your backyard or balcony. Nature can ground us, reminding us of our connection to the world and life cycles. Watching wildlife like birds and noticing the clouds or rain can all be relaxing and slow down the pace of life at any time.
5. Practice gratitude
Embrace the power of gratitude. Take a few moments each day to reflect on what you appreciate. It could be as important as a loving family or as simple as a delicious meal. Cultivating gratitude can help you to see the abundance in your life, shifting your focus from what’s missing to what’s already there. Gratitude can slow down the mental grind for more when you stop to notice what you already have. Happiness can grow the day you realize you already have more than enough.
6. Maintain meaningful relationships
Prioritize relationships that bring joy, support, and understanding into your life. These might be with family members, friends, or a life partner. Relationships are at the heart of our human experience, and nourishing them is fundamental to our happiness and sense of belonging. The inverse of this is getting toxic people out of your life helps reduce suffering exponentially. Bad marriages, bad bosses, and toxic family members are not the path to an enjoyable life at your own pace.
7. Simplify your life
Consider decluttering your physical and mental space. Remove nonessential items, commitments, and thoughts that don’t serve your well-being. Creating a more minimalist lifestyle makes room for what truly matters – ease, clarity, and contentment. Focus on what is essential for your happiness and eliminate what is unnecessary or wanted. An enjoyable slow life is not busy with the upkeep and maintenance of many material things.
8. Practice self-care
Self-care isn’t an indulgence; it’s a necessity. Pay attention to your mental and emotional health, exercise regularly, nourish your body with wholesome foods, and prioritize restful sleep. Your well-being is the foundation for building a fulfilling and meaningful life. You must slow down enough to be able to take care of yourself. Fast pace lifestyles are dangerous for the bad habits they create, like eating fast food and junk food, a lack of exercise, and destructive paths for stress management like drinking and smoking. With a slow lifestyle, you are the top priority.
- Cultivate mindfulness to experience each moment fully.
- Schedule tech-free periods for authentic connection with yourself and others.
- Delve into relaxing activities to restore balance and contentment.
- Embrace the healing power of nature for grounding and connection.
- Develop a gratitude practice to shift your perspective towards abundance.
- Nurture relationships that bring joy and understanding.
- Simplify your surroundings and commitments to create space for what truly matters.
- Prioritize self-care as the cornerstone of well-being and fulfillment.
The principles of slow living offer a roadmap to a life of less stress and more fulfillment. By embracing mindfulness, we immerse ourselves in the depth of each moment. By disconnecting from the digital world at times, we forge authentic connections. Inviting relaxation through activities we love, spending time in nature, practicing gratitude, nurturing meaningful relationships, simplifying our life, and practicing self-care all contribute to this enriching philosophy. Each of these elements, when woven together, creates a system of slow living. This suggested strategy is a gentle reminder that life isn’t a race, but a journey to be savored, one beautiful, intentional moment at a time. I escaped the fast-paced life of corporate careers and big-city living long ago and have never had any regrets.