When I explain how our years here in Italy have taught us to slow down, enjoy life, and have even more time for all that we love, I find many who want to escape the stress and frazzled nerves (or the sometimes meaningless treadmill) of the fast lane. We want a meaningful life that counts for something and one that we can truly enjoy.
Yet we often get distracted and lose sight of our goals. We’re bombarded with sights, sounds, displays, and screens of every sort. And pulled in every direction by advertising, entertainment, and offers of success, wealth, and glamour. And it’s all so enticing that we can lose sight not only of our direction and plan, but of how much we already have.
Slow living has its roots in the slow food movement started in 1989 by Carlo Petrini right here in Italy to counteract the trend toward fast food with its inherent dangers. It’s a philosophy of slowing down to mindfully eat good food with good conversation, as opposed to eating junk food on the run.
Slow living expands this into a lifestyle.
A lifestyle related, in many ways, to the similar movements of simple, mindful, intentional, and whole living, as they share many characteristics and goals. But I think slow living has one extra trait that takes it over the top: it’s a sustainable lifestyle.
8 ways slow living can help you slow down, be still, and focus…
1. A slow life is sustainable.
Not environmentally sustainable, although it really should be that too. But realistically feasible, extremely livable, and easy to maintain long-term. Because it’s less hectic and stressful it becomes more enjoyable. And that makes it a lifestyle you want to maintain!
2. It means slowing down to live life as it was meant to be lived.
Savored in small bites. Slowly relished like a glass of fine wine. Or as we say in our part of the world, “La vita al passo della lumaca,” (Living at a snail’s pace). The slower pace God intended for us. Just as cars are not built to always speed, we are not made to sustain a hectic, frenetic lifestyle long-term. As the Psalmist says we also need to stop and “be still to know that the Lord is God,” (Psalm 46:10).
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret it patience.Ralph Walso Emerson
And this slower lifestyle can help improve other areas of our life as well: finances, time, health, relationships, and work. Making them less stressful and more enjoyable.
3. Improved work output.
By slowing down enough to concentrate on the task or activity at hand, we can get more done and do a better job in less time and with less stress. This is choosing unitasking over multitasking.
4. Time seems to increase.
Mostly because by slowing down and taking on less, it really does free up time. And because we get more done quickly, we have more time to do the things we really love.
5. Health benefits through eating real food and taking time to savor it.
And the slower pace helps reduce stress, improve digestion, and create more time for rest, relaxation, and keeping physically active.
6. Deepened relationships.
Through spending more time with friends, family, and those we care about. By eating meals together without devices and internet, taking time for real conversation and sharing, and doing things together, we start to really connect or re-connect with others.
7. Increased financial soundness through not trying to have it all.
Slowing down gives us time to realize not only how much we already have, but also the clarity to see that often we don’t need more. We just need time to appreciate what we’ve already got. And this can lead to less shopping and spending!
8. And finally, it can bring an increased sense of well-being.
It often enhances peace of mind by cutting out unnecessary or potenttially harmful distractions like clutter, social media addiction, and too many commitments or activities.
And by learning to live in the present moment and enjoy it fully, we often remember to care for and nourish our entire being. For as author C.S. Lewis said: “You are not a body. You are a soul; you have a body.”
In essence, slow living is about slowing down to truly enjoy life.
And about building a more meaningful and purposeful life at the same time. And who doesn’t want that? So if you’ve been asking, “Why would I want to slow my life?” perhaps the better question would be: “Why would I want a stressful hectic life and miss out on life’s truly important things?”