We all want to strive for a mindful and balanced life. If you are here, sparing this time to read my blog, I’m sure in some way or other you want a positive change in your lifestyle. Most of us are living our lives just trying to “get through the week”. The feeling of monotony, unhappiness and unfulfillment are ever lingering in today’s time, even after achieving the things that we work hard for. Despite all the advances in technology, medicine, psychology, architecture, design - all to provide us with comfort and convenience, we’re more stressed and restless today than humans have ever been in the history of time.
WHAT IS SLOW LIVING?
It’s a lifestyle that emphasises on slower, more meaningful, mindful approaches to everyday life. To me, slow living simply means finding the right pace to live your life - When you choose to escape the mindless scrolling and unproductive multitasking and focus on meaningful action. It is a rejection of the fast-paced modern notion of life that glamorises busyness.
Similar to “downshifting” and “voluntary simplicity” , slow living follows a “less is more” or you can say a “less but better” mantra. Slow living doesn’t mean to live life at a snail’s pace, but to live actively, with full awareness, in the present without any rush or hurry, no matter what state of mind you’re in.
I’m listing some of my favourite slow living quotations to give you a better idea of this philosophy.
“The central tenet of the slow philosophy is taking the time to do things properly, and thereby enjoy them more.” — Carl Honoré
“In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention.” — Pico Iyer
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.” — Eddie Cantor
“In the 1980s, simplicity was seen primarily as ‘downshifting,’ or pulling back from the rat race of consumer society. Several decades later, there is a growing recognition of simplicity as ‘upshifting’ — or moving beyond the rat race to the human race.” ― Duane Elgin
“When everything feels urgent and important, everything seems equal. We become active and busy, but this doesn’t actually move us any closer to success. Activity is often unrelated to productivity, and busyness rarely takes care of business.” — Gary Keller
“…One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity…It is merely simplicity; the ability to express the utmost with the minimum.” ― Bruce Lee
WHY DO WE NEED IT?
The world has set “fast” and “more” as defaults to the way we live our lives today. All the ads and commercials, high beauty and fitness standards, high living standards are constantly pushing us to “hustle” all the time so that we can achieve more and more as fast as possible.
In the name of convenience and comfort, we have sacrificed so much of the little precious pleasures of life. The system and the society is always pushing us to go faster and better as if what we are and what we have is never enough. We have become so used to always crave novelty, and so used to the disposable culture that it has started to become a part of our value system. We are highly uneducated about the values of a sustainable society and environment. Most of us don’t know anything about reusing, up-cycling, recycling and nobody seems to have the time to care about it. Apparently we’re too busy looking out for black Friday sales and constantly browsing for discount coupons so that we continue hoarding more and more stuff at our homes and make our lives more cluttered.
It’s important to understand that none of this stuff you’re accumulating is going to make you feel happy or fulfilled in the longer run. The feeling of unfulfillment is a bi-product of hyper-consumerism. We have adopted a culture which is made to keep us unsatisfied in order to buy more.
Slow living is a step, or at least a desire to work against the chaos and mindless consumption. Slowing down enough to move through the day with purpose and calmness, making more personal connections and, paradoxically, allowing you to feel you have more time than when you’re rushing around with your never ending to-do lists and crushing deadlines.
SIMPLE WAYS TO START A SLOW LIFE
If this is a busy time in your life, it may be tempting to think that you can’t do much about trying it out -- but there are always ways to go a bit slower, no matter how much is on your plate. You can always start small!
And let's be honest here, slow living is for everyone, not just those who live in the countryside, raise chickens and grow their own vegetables. Most of us don't live like that. Most of us live in busy towns or cities. In fact that's where it’s needed the most.
As you read through these simple and practical suggestions I’m listing, make a mental note of one or two you’d like to try today.
Change your inner dialogue : no matter what you’re going through in life, you get to choose what you’re saying to yourself on a daily basis. Make sure what you’re telling yourself is worth listening to. Start creating beautiful, positive thoughts today.
Single-tasking: glorifying multitasking is not a good idea at all. Research indicates that multi-tasking increases stress and lowers productivity. While single-tasking is becoming a lost art, try to rejuvenate it in your daily activities. Do one thing at a time. Give it your all. Finish it and then start the next thing.
Disconnect: Limit your screen time, disconnect every once in a while. You can start this by noticing how many hours you spend in front of a screen a day. Try reducing an hour everyday in the first week. Keep a note of how many times you open any social media app a day. And what is that you’re really looking for there. Technology affects you way more than you think it can. Media rearranges your values. For a little while, disconnect all the devices, try to connect to your inner self as well as your immediate environment. Pay attention to the sky, the plants around you, watch them grow, talk to people, give your time to the things that matter, that’s how you’ll get the sense of a real connection, you’ll be able to see the larger picture.
Turning routine into a ritual : Try to find pleasure in doing the simplest of things, from taking a shower, to driving, cooking, eating, drafting an email or texting a friend. Just try to have intention and enjoyment in carrying out your routine activities. For me making and drinking my tea is the most blissful ritual of the day. I am amazed to see how a simple activity such as making a warm cup of tea can bring so much joy to me. You’ll be able to discover so many sources of bliss and joy as you turn your mundane activities into rituals by giving them intention and attention.
Breathe: whenever you lose focus, or you feel restless, rushed and distracted; take long, deep breaths. Feel the air fill your lungs and exhale out the thought of whatever is bothering you at that moment. Conscious breathing is the simplest and most effective exercise to calm a restless mind.
Slow down your consumption: You can start this by trying to know the products you buy. What they’re made of. How they’re made. This will tell you all about what you’re consuming and how good or bad it is for you as well as for the environment. Buy less but better things, save up for the things that you absolutely love and need. Be aware of how your lifestyle impacts the environment and the global community.
Less junk, more real food: Prefer home cooked/organic meals over fast food as much as possible. Instead of hitting the supermarket for your fruit and veg, head to the local market, farm shop or farmers market. You'll be able to buy fresher, often locally sourced and reduce a lot of packing too (always carry your own shopping bags). Begin to think of food as nourishment/medicine. While eating, think about the process that food might have followed before reaching your plate. How it was grown and packaged. People who must’ve been involved in the process. This may deter you from eating certain foods (like a packet of chips that sat in a vending machine for a year) or may encourage you to be grateful for the good nutritious foods you eat, and for the farmers who grew it, the people who delivered it etc.
Stop running after trends, invest in longevity: Be critical of your shopping habits, Go for slow fashion over fast fashion. Vintage shopping is always a great idea! Build a capsule wardrobe made of only the things you like. Don’t buy something just because everybody else has it or something that’s trending. Buy things that cater to your personality and individuality. The things that you truly love.
Declutter: Start with one corner at a time. One drawer, one cupboard and organise it. Decluttering should be done mindfully too. See whatever stuff can be reused/recycled or donated. Whatever stuff you own should have an assigned place in your house. Whatever doesn’t fit in should be considered clutter. Make goals - assign 15 minutes everyday to decluttering and organising things. Give away 1 item each week. Make this fun for yourself by taking a before and after picture!
Slow living can mean various things to different people. And there aren’t any strict guidelines to it. You have your own priorities to recognise and have your own ways of changing your life’s pace. Our time on this earth is limited. A slower approach to daily activities can help you savour every minute and maximise this life not in terms of years or days but in terms of joyful moments. You just need to start!