The pace of life has increased along with technological advancement. Information, news, and conversations spread more quickly than ever. People are expected to be online every day of the week, around-the-clock. People in “hustle culture” work till they are exhausted. But when things get faster, we find that we want to slow them down more and more, which is where slow living comes in.
According to Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slowness: How A Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed ($24, amazon.com), “I think of slow [life] as more of a mindset than anything else.” “Quality prevails above quantity. It involves acting mindfully and in the present. In the end, it’s more important to complete tasks thoroughly than quickly.”
CREDIT: GETTY / THOMAS BARWICK
It may sound simple, “but it’s actually a profoundly revolutionary [idea] in a roadrunner culture where every moment [in] a day is a race against the clock,” says Honoré. But what, exactly, is slow living? And how you can slow down and embrace a slower pace of life? Ahead, Honoré breaks down the lifestyle that just might improve your relationship with, well, just about everything and everyone.
What is slow living?
The best way to describe slow living is to describe what it isn’t—and that’s slowing down to a snail’s pace that doesn’t make sense in today’s fast-paced culture. “I think in our fast-forward culture, where the taboo against slowness runs so deep, we just assume that the only way to slow down is for everything to become incredibly slow motion, which would be absurd,” says Honoré. Slow living isn’t about shutting down—it’s about stepping back strategically. “Slow living [is] about doing things at the right speed,” says Honoré. “So, understanding that, sure, there are times to go fast and be busy—but there are other times when it pays to put the brakes on and slow down.”
What are the cornerstones of living a slower lifestyle?
Slow living is about creating opportunities to disconnect, (literally) slow down, and be more present. Taking the first step towards this entails redefining your relationship with your phone, tablet, or other gadgets and making more room in your life for screen-free time. “A cornerstone of slow living is forging a more balanced, healthier, happier, and more humane relationship with our technology,” says Honoré. “[It’s] knowing when to go on and use that incredible thrilling speed of technology—and then knowing when enough is enough and to stop scrolling through Instagram or stop surfing the net while watching Netflix or just simply stop being in front of a screen.”
Another key element of slow living is letting go of the fear of missing out—and instead of trying to do every single thing, honing in on the things that matter. “A cornerstone of being slow is saying no,” says Honoré. “It’s relearning the lost art of saying no, of prioritizing, of taking the time to pause, reflect, and look at your life and say, ‘What is really important?’ Then focus your time and attention on those things and let everything else go.”
Why is slow living worth your time?
So many of us have attempted to integrate principles of slow living into our day-to-day, and that’s because we’re quickly hitting our capacity for our fast-paced lifestyles, something that’s starting to take its toll, notes Honoré. “We are bumping up against the limits now of how much speed the human mind, body, and spirit can take, and I think we’re paying a price across our lives to this ‘go fast’ or ‘do everything at once’ [attitude],” says Honoré. “Everything, from our health and diet to our relationships, families, communities, and schools, [is suffering] and it’s also hurting our ability to think, link, innovate, create work, be productive, and be creative.”
The slow living movement resonates with so many because people are sick of fast-forwarding through their lives—and the consequences that go along with that lifestyle. “We’re racing through our lives instead of actually living them,” says Honoré. “Turning every moment of the day into a dash takes a toll, and it’s hurting us in so many ways.”
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