We hear the phrase slow living written about a lot. It seems to be 'the thing' to talk about at the moment. But what does slow living really mean?
There has been a strong move towards slow living over the past year. People talk about it as being a move away from the busyness of every day life. A move away from the hustle and bustle. Of slowing down and reconnecting with nature. Of owning chickens, baking your own bread and bottling your own jam. Of growing and harvesting your own vegetables. It’s become about moving to small cottages in the countryside and spending your weekends at farmers markets. It’s become about making your own chemical-free household and beauty products. And it's become about being vegan and whipping up delicious zucchini noodle dinners in your farmhouse-styled kitchen.
Or so Instagram and Pinterest would have us believe.
Which is the problem with the slow living movement as I see it. Once again we are associating slow living with a certain aesthetic. Just like we have minimalism. And if our lives don’t feel Pinterest or Instagram worthy, we think we are doing it wrong.
Personally I don’t believe slow living has anything to do with an aesthetic. It’s not about owning chickens, baking your own bread and bottling your own jam. It’s about living life in a slow and intentional way. Whether you live in a cottage in the countryside or an apartment in New York City.
Because the thing with owning chickens, baking your own bread and bottling your own jam is that it’s hard work. Growing and harvesting your own vegetables can be laborious. Making your own chemical-free household and beauty products takes time. And while some people dream of moving to the countryside where ‘surely it’s easier to live a slower life’, those of us that live in the countryside often dream of owning a small apartment in the city without acres of fencing to maintain, or having to worry if the sheep have enough feed. Because believe me when I say that living in the countryside does not equal slow living.
But you can live in the countryside and live a slow life. Just as you can live slowly in the city. Because it’s not about aesthetic, it’s about intentionally making choices.
To me slow living is about choosing what we say yes and no to on a daily basis. It’s about how we intentionally fill the 1440 minutes we are gifted each day. It’s about creating routines that decrease the decisions we have to make. And it’s about moving slower throughout life.
Because if we turn slow living into an aesthetic and a list of things we ‘should’ be doing, it implies not everyone will be able to achieve this way of life. But if we see it for what it should be, which is a mindset shift, then it’s achievable for everyone.
For some this might mean owning chickens, baking bread and bottling jam. But for others it could mean choosing to read a book on the train commute to work, rather than scrolling through social media. It could mean saying no to after work drinks on a Friday night, choosing instead to relax on the couch with a takeaway pizza while watching a movie. Or it could mean telling your kids they can only do one after school activity each term.
For some it might mean growing their own vegetables. For others it might mean buying vegetables from the local fruit and vegetable shop to support the owner. For some it might mean making their own beauty products, while for others it might mean shopping online for a product that is organic and not tested on animals to save them time. And while some people might choose to cook home-grown spiralised zucchini, others might choose to buy a healthy, pre-packaged meal from the supermarket after working late.
Because that’s the thing about slow living, minimalism, mindfulness … insert any other trend here … no-one gets to tell us how to do it. Instead we get to intentionally choose. Not based on what Pinterest feeds us, but on what feels right and works for us.
Living a life that feels slow is not an aesthetic. It does not need to be Instagram or Pinterest worthy. It is simply a way of life that feels good for each of us as individuals. Countryside or city. Chickens or not.