When I asked you on Instagram a while back, many of you were very interested in the slow living lifestyle. A few of you already knew a lot, but most of you said you knew a little but wanted to learn more. This is the first post in a series about slow living and what better to start with than an introduction to what slow living is?
Slow living is basically about questioning the busy lifestyle so many of us live. We work full time and fill the rest of the day with endless activities, both for ourselves and our kids, all while we are supposed to have dinners with friends, go shopping for the latest trends and manage all the household work. The slow lifestyle invites you to step off the fast-pace-always-busy merry-go-round and see life in a whole new way.
Living a slow life is about living with intention. It’s about questioning the modern rule of ”faster is always better”. It’s to take a step back and see the bigger picture – fast isn’t always good. Sometimes it is, but far from always. Living slow is about saying no to a stressful lifestyle where you run from one thing to another, work long hours, then squeeze in as many hobbies as you can, go on as many dinners as you can, and basically live your life on a tight schedule. It’s questioning a lifestyle where you don’t have time to read a bedtime story for your kids because you have to work, or where you go to bed with a spinning head thinking that you need to be even more productive the coming day.
So, how do you start living a slow life? I’d say that the first thing you should do is to sit down and think about what’s really important in your life. Kids, family, friends? Maybe you love gardening, painting, photographing, knitting, cooking? What do you really love to do? Forget about trends and what your friends do. What do you love?
Ask yourself how you live your life today. Do you work in the evenings? Leave the kids at kindergarten for long hours everyday? How much time do you spend in front of the TV or other screens each day? Take an honest look at this and ask yourself why you do these things. Do you work in the evenings because it’s a rule at the office, or because you think you have to? Most of us don’t really need to work in the evenings, we do it because everyone else seems to do it, or because we think we won’t get stuff done on time if we don’t. Or, simply we just want to know if we’ve gotten any interesting emails since we left the office. What would happen if you stopped working the minute you left the office? How much time would you free up in the evenings? And most of all, what would it do to your wellbeing?
The next thing to take a look at would be how you spend the rest of your time. How much do you use your phone and social media? Netflix? Shopping? Start to go grocery shopping once a week instead of four times a week. And do your kids really need to have 3 hobbies each? If you ask them, maybe they don’t even want to be that busy. Maybe they’d like to be home more instead of rushing from one activity to the next?
Next, take a look at how you spend your money. Do you really need to buy new clothes every month? Or go on expensive vacations every year? Or change curtains, furniture, wall paint, bedding and lamps every year? Probably not. How much money would you save if you stopped buying new things? Maybe so much you could even work less hours? Pick up the kids from kindergarten a little earlier so you can spend more time with your family.
You don’t have to stop with your hobbies and start knitting (if that is not something you’d like of course). You don’t need to follow a certain set of rules (gosh, that’s the opposite of slow living). And you should not compare yourself to someone else or try to copy their way of living slow. There is no one answer to the question how you live a slow life. You have to do the work yourself. Take a look at your own life and find out what to do differently. The basic thing is to live with less, to live with intention and to spend time on things that are truly meaningful.
Let me be clear, slow living is a lifestyle. Not a way to decorate your home. Not a way to dress. It has nothing to do with how things look, but about how things are. Just because you want to live a slow lifestyle, you don’t have to redecorate your entire home according to what Pinterest says is ”slow living interior”. In fact, doing that, is the opposite of slow. Slow living is about you. You can’t google your way to the right answer. You’ll have to take a step back and question the choices you make. Reprioritize. And probably change your behavior at one point or two. But I’m sure you’ll enjoy life a lot more when you stop rushing through it.
One last thing I want to make clear is that living slow is not at all the same as doing everything at the same pace as a snail. I too get frustrated when the person before me in the store takes forever to pack their things or pay for their stuff. With that being said I think it’s time to end this first post about slow living. I have planned a few more posts related to this topic, since so many of you seem interested in this lifestyle. For example, I am working on a post about digital habits and slow living.
If you want to read more about slow living I want to recommend a few books:
Chasing slow – Erin Loechner
Destination Simple – Brooke McAlary
Slow – Carl Honoré
The Year of Less – Cait Flanders
A year of living simply – Kate Humble
… and my cookbook, The Nordic Baker, where I also share a lot about living slow.