The Benefits of Slow Living — Why You Should Slow Down to Smell the Roses
Today, I explore the art of slow living. What does slow living look like? How does one start? And what are its benefits? I answer these questions and more with a story of my own.
I’m an advocate for slowing down, especially considering how fast-paced our lives can be. It’s almost like every moment of every day beckons us to constantly be on the go, to constantly show that we’re busy, and to constantly produce as a means to harness the attention of the masses.
Slow living counters that, at least somewhat. It encourages rest, fosters the present moment, and brings mindfulness into the once glossed-over facets of life.
Why explore this? Why live slower? Amid constant chaos, demands, and feelings of inadequacy as it relates to our production levels or status, living slowly can bring more aliveness into our lives. An aliveness that notices even the small things, that sees joy in the spacious moments.
Here is where rest is honored, where your true self can come to life. Here is where burnout is avoided, where what others think of you matters none. Here is where you get to explore boredom and turn it into an imaginary paradise. Here is where you heal, transcend, and discover your version of authentic expression and success.
It is in the small yet spacious moments that you can smell the roses, and notice just how alive you really are.
A short story
In 2020, I made a big decision.
I slowed my life down. At first, I didn’t know that that’s what I was doing.
I was living in the city. And with living the city life, I embraced the hustle and bustle mentality. I was working a 9 to 5, starting a business, and running a podcast on the side.
I always wanted to fill my time with something to do, someplace to go, a new place to eat, a new music venue, new people, new art shows, dates, and so on.
I constantly felt like it was important for me to fill my time for the sake of filling my time but also for the sake of establishing myself as someone to be known. In so many ways, that can be a valuable thing to do (establishing your brand). Yet, even machines need downtime for maintenance.
But, when I decided to walk away from city living, I didn’t realize at first that I needed a break from the constant “gotta be busy” mindset that made me feel like if I wasn’t constantly out there on the grind, then I wasn’t valuable.
Often, we can hem our self-worth, our self-value, and who we believe ourselves to be based on what we are actively doing. And we can view the opposite of someone taking their time as “they’re going too slow”, “they’re boring”, or “they aren’t offering enough for me.”
And that’s fair. We all grow up in different places and experience time how we experience it. But, from someone who has always grown up in bigger environments where it felt necessary to incessantly be active and entertained, I see now that aliveness doesn’t have to be defined that way.
I can, instead, relax in myself and be extremely curious within myself even when alone.
So, I decided to completely remove myself from city living.
I stayed in the countryside on an island. An island where I had the opportunity to learn the language and culture — to see life from a completely different perspective.
Of course, when I first got there, I was still buzzing. I also then suffered from a bit of impostor syndrome seeing how everybody in the place in which I had just left was still constantly on the move, meeting all these responsibilities.
Yet, I removed myself from all of that because I had the opportunity and the means to do it — to rest for 3.5 months.
In my choice to learn a new language and culture, I learned how important it is to slow down, to stop and smell the roses, to take a deep breath, and to get to know people for who they are and not who I want them to be. To take a moment and embrace myself even when I’m ashamed or sad; to be more mindful as I’m brushing my teeth or taking a stroll or sitting on the beach and just quietly watching others go by.
It was in these moments that my understanding of what it means to be mindful, to rest, to taste my food, and breathe deeply began to deepen. I finally began to embrace the rainforest, surrounded by the ocean on every side. I learned from people who learned to live life at their own pace and in their own way.
My life transformed.
Slow living has shown me how important it is to take time to think, to feel, and be — to embrace myself however I am, wherever I am.
I learned how important it is to take time to grieve, whether it be a person or a previous version of myself or something else, and just how important it is to live life lively.
Life is meant to be lived lively
We experience much suffering because we can begin to think otherwise of how our lives are meant to be lived or what it is that we’re supposed to be doing, trying to meet certain criteria or expectations that either we’ve set for ourselves or somebody else has.
Yet, moving slower allows you to learn what success means to you, to learn what living lively means to you, to learn who you are, what your authentic voice sounds like, what your authentic version of expression is, what feels best to you, and what brings YOU joy.
Consider: who are you really when you’re not constantly busy? What type of creativity and imagination may arise when you allow yourself to slow down and breathe?
Slow living introduced me to a version of myself that I didn’t know I needed to be introduced to. It opened me to a part of myself that began to learn to face fears instead of allowing them to lead or master my life. It was the beginning of a complete unfolding of a new version of myself that I had never truly given an ear to or allowed to be seen.
I was put into a place where I could finally invite my full self to the table for healing and integration or release.
If you’re not able to quit everything and take a break to learn what it means to live a bit slower, there is a way that you can begin to explore this here and now in your current life.
I invite you to do something different today; it can be anything:
- Brush your teeth with a different hand
- Try to write with another hand (or even with your toes)
- Chew slower when you eat, try to taste each flavor
- Breathe slower and deeper; Pay attention to where your breath is and send it down to your belly. Take 5 deep breaths. On the inhale, let your belly expand, and when you exhale, feel your belly contract. Notice how you feel.
- When you write, allow yourself to notice what it feels like to move the pen across the paper; when you type notice what the keyboard feels like under your fingertips
- When you walk notice what it’s like to distribute the weight from your heel to the ball of your foot and toes.
- On a train, notice what the sounds are like or the vibrations that eminent from it.
- Notice the colors around you, the sounds, the feelings, the vibrations even if it’s for a split second.
These are versions of slow living. And these versions can unveil to you everything you never knew you needed to know.
They prove that you can be present here and now, that you can take a deep breath even when hastened with uncertainty, stressed by a challenge, or bent out of shape. You realize that taking that moment to live slowly builds resilience and helps you bounce back even better than before.
These versions of slow living can foster your well-being.
They can alter your life and your perspective. And that can change your behaviors, thought patterns, habits as well as your openness and willingness to integrate this version of living more actively into your busy life.
Slow living brings more liveliness, more mindfulness, and more presence.
Yes, you can feel alive in fast living — you choose what’s best for you. But, if you’ve ever been curious about what it’s like to live a bit more slowly, I invite you to explore slower living and be open to what comes.
This small action can change your life for the best — for the betterment of you, your community, your family, and the collective of humanity.
It is now more than ever that we need every single one of us to be authentic to who we truly are.
For when you strip away all of your layers, what’s left? When you step away from all your identities and obligations, who are you?
You are meant to live life lively — so lively, so present, and so mindfully — to take in the joy and beauty that is all around you.
In these slower moments, you can see the truth in it all and the truth in yourself. So, I invite you now to slow down and take a deep breath where you are.
Embrace slow living.
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