What is Slow Living and How Do You Live Slow?

Slow is a confusing concept to define, and it can mean something different to different people. There are many terms: mindful living, self-care, lagom, intentional living, minimalism, simple living- that all have similar meaning.

These are all words that have emerged in our vocabulary from our desperate need to declutter our lives and our minds and make space for the things that really matter.

What is Slow Living and how does one actually “live slow?” Here are three ways how.

I like to use the term slow living.

Like slow food, which was created to counteract the rise of fast food, or slow fashion, which is the movement of opposite of fast fashion and designing and buying garments for quality and longevity, slow living presents an alternative to the consumer society.

It’s about paying attention to how we spend our time and our money, and taking a step back from commercialism and the message that more is better.

Despite the name, slow living doesn't mean doing things slowly. Simplifying doesn’t make you lazy. It doesn’t mean that life is easy, or that you don’t have to work hard. It’s about choosing to focus on what’s important to you and defining your own success. It’s the actual living of life, slowing down to enjoy the moment, instead of doing (or buying) things because you think you’re supposed to.

So what does slow living actually look like?

Despite the curated feeds of #slowliving, it’s not all Kinfolk and white space and perfectly curated closets and morning lattes and freshly made bread (well, a good life to me should always include bread).

Your version of a slow life and a slow home could be different than mine. Take a moment to think about what makes you happy, and then use your time to achieve happiness.

Slow living is about removing all the noise from your life that doesn’t serve you or your ideal life vision. That noise could be the material or mental things that we accumulate over the years- carrying them with us because of habit, a fear of letting go, or uncertainty of how our life would be without them.

How do you start living slow?

This is, in my opinion, the 3 main principles of slow living:

1: Be Conscious of our Consumption

We live in a consumerist society, and while we do buy things that we actually need, we also buy things because of what they mean for our image, our social status, our self-esteem, etc. It’s very external, we value items because of what other people may think of us if we have them.  

In slow living, there is a shift in our thinking, and subsequently, our shopping habits. We buy things based on how well it fulfills our needs and if it brings you joy, not the message that it will send to other people.


2: We Shift the Consumption Cycle

The Story of Stuff teaches us that a consumerist society works around a consumption cycle consisting of buying, using, discarding, buying again etc. When we shift to a slower life, we also shift this consumption cycle.

Instead of buying something simply because it’s new, or because it’s on sale, we only buy what we truly need. As a result, we tend to buy less things. And we put more thought into those purchases.

Not all items have to be practical, but you should be picky about what items are allowed to surround you. A beautiful or sentimental item has more reason to be in your home than cheap, meaningless crap. We need consider how items are made and what we will do with them when we are finished.

Slow living also reminds us to take better care of our belongings, and repairing them when possible instead of just throwing away. This makes the life span of our objects usually longer, slowing the consumption cycle even more.


3: Your Life Priorities are Non-Material Things

In a consumerist society, material items have a high priority. You spend a lot of time working so you have money to spend on those material items. In this cycle, you get a bigger house to hold your stuff, maybe even rent storage units, and most likely going into debt. And, you spend a lot of energy and time cleaning, sorting, and maintaining your clutter.

In slow living, time, energy and money spent on objects is much lower. When you have fewer items, you don’t need storage units or a bigger house, so you can spend less money and energy on stuff.

This means your time, energy and money can go towards things that really matter to you. Maybe that’s learning something new, traveling more, focusing on your health, spending more time with your family. Objects can help you reach your goals, however, they are the goal themselves.

What’s one aspect of your life that you can slow down on?