The fast pace of modern life means that we often forget what really matters. Without slow living, it is easy to get to the stage where we do not see the wood for the trees. It is often the case that we do not stop to smell the flowers, but merely zoom from one preoccupation to the next. We often end up disconnected from the world around us, divorced from the planet and people on whom we all depend.
The problem with this is that it can leave us feeling that our actions do not matter. But the truth of is that our actions have consequences. What we do can have huge impact on the world around us. Living more slowly, more intentionally, more kindly and gratefully, can help us have a more positive impact, not only on those directly connected to us, but also on the planet as a whole.
Slow Living for Ourselves
Any journey towards a better way of life for ourselves and for others must begin with an internal change. Slow living is all about taking charge of our own actions, and ownership of our own decisions. It is about taking back control.
This process begins with deep reflection. It involves taking the time and space we need to think about the things we do and the decisions we make. Before we choose anything to eat or drink, before we buy anything at all, before we make our way from A to B, before we use any resources or throw anything away, we must slow down, take a step back, and consider the consequences of anything that we intend.
Small, thoughtful, slow actions can have a profound effect and move us in a slow living direction. For example:
- Get in touch with the seasons and eat locally grown, organic, seasonal produce – starting small and growing your own food where possible.
- Spend more time in the natural world. Learning to love it can help us appreciate it more and feel more connected to it.
- Follow the 5 'r's – refuse, reduce, reuse, repair and recycle.
- Choose slow travel solutions: walk, cycle, kayak, canoe or sail, for example, rather than taking faster but more damaging forms of transportation.
Before our actions ripple outwards to effect those around us, and the world in general, they can have a profound effect on ourselves. Consciously slowing down and taking time for reflection and analysis, observation and thought, can not only lead to a more sustainable and ethical way of life. It can also lead to a greater sense of calm. It can reduce our stress levels and leave us feeling more grounded, centered and in control.
Slow Living for Other People
Slow living – as in the ways mentioned above, will not only positively impact us ourselves. It can also have a huge positive impact on other people. Those we know and love will obviously benefit from our new slower and more conscientious way of thinking. As we become calmer, happier and less stressed, we tend to become better people in a host of different ways. By slowing down, we can make more time in our lives for those who matter most to us.
But those in the wider world will also benefit from our slower, more intentional living. By slowing down and becoming more thoughtful, we can withdraw our support for damaging systems. For example, we can avoid pesticides and other harmful substances that pose risks to farm workers and manufacturers. We can make sure that we avoid purchasing products that have infringed human rights around the world. Of course, we can also make sure that we reduce our carbon footprints, and thereby help to combat the existential threat of climate change – a threat that already endangers many people around the world.
Slow Living For the Planet
As human beings, we tend to have a human-centric view. But of course we are just one element in the interconnected systems that make up all life on this planet we call home. By slowing down, we can begin to see that everything is connected. We can recognise the profound impact that even the smallest of changes can have.
By slowing down, we can make sure that we truly appreciate our ecosystems and all the plants and animals we encounter. As humans, we have a huge capacity to change our environments, and this has often been in negative ways. Slow living is also about turning this around, and changing our environments not for the worse but for the better – improving biodiversity and enriching the world we live in.
Living With Gratitude
For ourselves, people and our planet, slow living can be huge step in the right direction. But as we slow down and take back control, it is also important to be grateful. Gratitude is something important to have, and important to express. Be sure to say thank you for the things that really matter, and to pay it forward in whatever way you can.