When I first came across the phrase “slow living”, immediately images of work-free days spent living in a countryside cottage, sipping freshly brewed tea by the window overlooking the garden patch sprang to my mind. This may be the case for some who are indeed living in a countryside lifestyle, however the reality for most of us is that slow living takes many different forms in many different lifestyles. For some this could mean slow start on weekends, breakfast in bed with loved ones, or waking up at dawn and going for a walk before the rest of the world is up. This simply points out to me that slow living means something personal to each of us and is expressed in our own personal ways.
My further research and reading into this phrase, brought about the following. The definition of Slow Living. According to Wikipedia: “Slow living is a lifestyle emphasizing slower approaches to aspects of everyday life.
Did you know that the history of slow living started with slow food movement? The concept of ‘slow’ lifestyles started with the slow food movement, which emphasizes more ‘traditional’ food production processes as a reaction to the emergence of fast food in Italy during the 1980s and 1990s. Slow food and slow living are frequently, but not always, proposed as solutions to what the green movement describes as problems in materialistic and industrial lifestyles.
When I read the history, I understood why photos of slow living are if not always, mostly associated with food especially on Instagram & Pinterest tagged with #slowliving and other food associated hashtags. It is no surprise as food is part of our everyday life and healthier food choices means a healthier and longer life. In other words, aging healthily slowly.
Besides food and lifestyle, what I like about the slow living movement is that it also expands to slow travel and slow fashion. So, what does it really mean? Slow travel according to The Art of Slow Travel, is a mindset that rejects traditional ideas of tourism and encourages you to soak in your environments and keep yourself open to new experiences. While slow fashion according to Study NY, is the movement of designing, creating, and buying garments for quality and longevity. It encourages slower production schedules, fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and (ideally) zero waste. In simple terms it prioritises quality over quantity of mass producing clothes. I believe that ethical clothing where clothing is made from ethically sources and sustainable sources is also born from this movement.
What It means to me
With all this information, what does slow living really mean to me though? The desire for me to slow down in my life came after realizing I have been living a hectic lifestyle, a life of chasing a corporate career while enduring the stress that came with it, a life where I often caught myself saying “time-flies” or “they (my children) are growing so quickly”. Pondering into what I’ve achieved and what future I want to have, I was determined that I want to live a meaningful life, a life full of joy and with less. Not a life that rushes by, not a life where I feel “time flies”.
There is no one word that describes the slow living concept because there is no one formula that teaches you how to live a slower, simpler life. Slow living is in fact entirely personal. It is simply a lifestyle in which one chooses to slow down, cultivating self-awareness, mindfulness, letting go of excess stuff while enjoying a happy and fulfilling life all within one’s personal values. This is what I believe in.
Just like the definition of slow fashion, slow living to me is paying attention to living and quality of life and embracing the little moments. Quality time with my loved ones, patience, understanding, gratitude and communication all plays a part. It’s like all the crew required to produce a feature film, you can’t just have the high profile director and actors to make it a masterpiece. Everyone is equally important and hence why every moment in our life are important whether it is good or bad, it helps us grow and be mature in living a fulfilling life.
Here’s a quote I love from Nathan Williams, the author of Kinfolk Home:
“ Slow living isn’t about determining how little we can live with – it’s about working out what we simply can’t live without.”Nathan Williams, author of Kinfolk Home
One of the key elements I focused on at the beginning of my journey is the word “busy”, I want to take the busyness out. I still find people like to glorify busyness, it is very easy for many of us to say the words “I am busy”, “always a busy time”, etc. The word busy is used so sparingly in daily conversations. I find that the root cause of this is perhaps we grew up sold to the fast paced lifestyle that became a normality over time. And one of the reasons why it became a normality is simply fear of missing out (FOMO), we all just want to feel we belong by packing our calendars with things to do and share it on social media or use that as a conversation starter.
We are surrounded by relentless information every day. We wake up at the sound of the alarm clock and rush to get ready for work, probably skip breakfast or have it while running to the bus stop or having it in the train instead while endlessly browsing our phone. We have weekends packed with activities that rush by, we think that we need this and that, we very easily fall into the everyday busyness. We forgot to have less. We forgot the simple days our parents had growing up. We forgot the simple days we had during our childhood. We feel the need to pack our calendars with tons of to-dos. We think more is the new normality.
I like to think that maybe we just forgot that slow is the superpower that everyone has inside of us. If we choose to use it wisely, we will reap tremendous benefits from it, like living a happy and fulfilling life with no regrets. So, I started with what matters to me most and what brings me joy. From there, very simply I ensure quality over quantity in my calendars.
The slow movement is without a doubt continuously growing and expanding to wider areas. There are many people across the globe, from every nook and country adopting a slower and simpler lifestyle. So far, I’ve came across intentional living, mindful living, simple living and sustainable living during my research. It is not something you can achieve overnight! Remember when Spiderman got his superpower, he practiced and had to learn for himself until he became a master of his newfound superpower.
I’ve just started this slow living lifestyle, and I’m already learning so much every day. I feel happier from inside, have a more positive outlook on life and have better resilience when dealing with challenges. I also believe that there is no end point to this slow living movement. It is all about the process, slow and steady and always a room for evolvement to suit your personal values. I bet you would agree with me. Finally, I would like to emphasize again that slow living is entirely personal to you and you decide how you express it.
What does slow living mean to you? Have you started feeling different once you slow down? Let me know in the comments below. Till then, happy slow living! 🙂
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