"Slow Living? I don't have time for it!"
If this is your initial reaction, chances are you would really benefit from more of it. Slow Living means structuring your life around meaning and fulfillment. Similar to "voluntary simplicity" and "downshifting," it emphasizes a less-is-more approach, focusing on the quality of your life.
You may already experience this to lesser or greater degrees in some areas of your life. Thanksgiving is probably one of the best examples of when many Americans experience living at a slower pace. On this day many of us share a home–cooked meal with family and friends, and give thanks for what we have. Obviously celebrating Thanksgiving everyday wouldn't be desirable or practical, but the more we can include the spirit of Thanksgiving in our lives, the richer the other 364 days of the year would be.
Other examples of Slow Living are Secular Sabbaths and staycations. Secular Sabbath is a growing movement whereby individuals and families elect to unplug from technology one day a week so that they have more time and attention for relaxing, reading, and playing away from screens and phones. Staycations were most recently born out of the need for low–cost vacations, and they are creative and fun ways to recreate while not leaving your home or your region. By necessity they draw upon our inventiveness and give us a chance to appreciate what we already have (and where we already are) anew.
In addition to these examples, there are specific Slow Living movements for many other areas of life including Slow Parenting, Slow Food, Slow Clothing, Slow Exercise, and, of course, Slow Sex.
Personal motivations for slowing down vary, but often stem from a sense that all of the more in our lives has not made them better. Overwhelm, stress, and a sense of disconnection are common symptoms of trying to deal with too much in a fast–paced, commodity–filled, and highly technological culture. Slow Living addresses the desire to lead a more balanced life and to pursue a more holistic sense of well being in the fullest sense of the word. In addition to the personal advantages, there are potential environmental benefits as well. When we slow down, we often use fewer resources and produce less waste, both of which have a lighter impact on the earth.
Living more slowly begins with becoming more aware of what is positively and negatively impacting the quality of our lives. You can start by taking a few minutes at the end of each day to review and savor your favorite parts of that day. Over time you will begin to notice patterns. You might find this helpful as you consider how you want to redesign your life to increase what's working and reduce or eliminate what's not. For some people this takes place incrementally over time, while others may eventually feel a need to make fundamental changes to their home, work, or relationships.
Not infrequently we run up against our own personal—not to mention family, community, and societal—barriers. Finding good support and information can help to make the transition easier. Connecting with a community of like–minded folks is often both a goal and a strategy, and so finding people who share your particular interests is especially rewarding.
For some slow life humor check out the International Institute of Not Doing Much. There you will learn how to do nothing successfully, why multitasking is a moral weakness (except for women who have superior brain function), and discover much, much more about living in the slow lane.
We have developed Create The Good Life as one source of support for Slow Living. On this website you will find essays in our Slow Living Blog, including Embracing Your Inner Slow Life Designer which discusses the application of Slow Design to living. In addition, we offer consulting services and workshops to help people and organizations become better slow life designers. Join us as we slow down and live well, do good and use less (considerably less!).