What does slow living mean to you?
Maybe it’s taking time to savour a good meal, enjoy a leisurely walk in nature, or spend quality time with loved ones.
One thing is for sure. Slow living is about creating more meaningful and intentional moments in our lives.
This post will explore what slow living is, examples of individuals who embody this perspective and practical insights into how to practice slow living.
What is slow living?
Slow living is about slowing down the pace of life and taking the time to savour the moment instead of rushing through it. When we slow down, we open up the opportunity for more connection, depth, joy, and peace. This can manifest in different ways depending on the person.
For some, it means meandering around the house without feeling the time pressures of life.
It might also mean taking up hobbies like gardening or drawing or simply spending more quality time with family and friends.
Whatever form it takes, slow living is about creating a sustainable and enjoyable lifestyle.
Minimalism and simplicity are often connected with slow living, as they both emphasise living with less and focus on what is truly important. But while they’re closely related to slow living, they’re not the same thing.
Minimalism is about getting rid of excess stuff and decluttering your life, while simplicity makes things easier and less complicated.
However, both minimalism and simplicity can help you live a slower, more intentional life, so it’s beneficial to understand the relationship.
What does slow living look like?
Below are 3 examples of people who have mastered the art of slow living.
As the author of 3 best-selling books on slow living, and the co-host of the popular podcast The Slow Home, Brooke encourages us to find pleasure and value in a simpler life. She shares the practical tips and rituals that have helped her declutter, de-own, and live mindfully.
Brooke has always been drawn to living a slower, simpler life. This desire was only strengthened when she met her husband Ben and started a family of her own.
Together, they decided to leave their fast-paced city lives behind and move to a small village in the Southern Highlands, Australia, where they could focus on enjoying the simple pleasures in life.
Brooke’s little community has quickly become her new haven with its rolling green hills and abundance of lush fruit trees. She loves spending her days strolling around with her two young children and soaking up all the beauty of nature that surrounded them.
And through it all, there has been one constant piece of advice that guided them: to live mindfully, one must embrace slow living.
As Brooke shows us, slow living is not about deprivation or “giving up” things that we enjoy. Instead, it is about finding a better way to live. A way that is more sustainable, fulfilling, and rewarding.
Cait Flanders is the author of 2 best-selling books and a shining example of the power of slow living.
After realising that her life had become dominated by material possessions and consumer culture, Flanders made the brave and ambitious decision to embark on a year-long shopping ban (more on this later).
This radical experiment was not easy, but over time Flanders discovered that her commitment to saying “no” had other benefits as well, such as empowering herself to live according to her values and reducing stress caused by constant cognitive dissonance between what she said she believed in and how she lived her life.
Today, Flanders continues to use the principles of slow living as a guide for how she lives her life, carefully considering each choice she makes and ensuring it aligns with who she truly is at heart.
Whether you’re looking for ways to simplify your own life or find inspiration from someone who has done it before you, Cait is an outstanding example of what can be accomplished through slowing down one’s pace and opting out of harmful cultural norms.
Through conscious living at its best, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish both personally and collectively.
Li Ziqi is a perfect example of the principles of slow living. As of writing this post, she has nearly 17 million subscribers, she has become one of the most well-known and respected filmmakers on YouTube.
She’s known for her passion for the beautiful Chinese countryside and ancient traditions, which can be seen in the tranquil music that often accompanies her videos.
In addition, Li takes the time to create many things herself – from her own furniture out of bamboo to dyes for her clothing made from fruit skins.
At its core, slow living is about taking time to make things by hand and truly appreciate the process. And throughout all of Li’s videos, this theme shines through – whether she is growing her own soybeans or hand-crafting traditional Chinese knots.
In short, by embracing the ideals of slow living, Ziqi exemplifies what it means to live consciously and mindfully.
5 slow living principles to apply to your life today
Whether you’re living in the countryside or a busy metropolitan area, here are 5 principles to help you slow down today. I’ll be referring to the fantastic individuals above throughout these learnings.
1. Simplify your life by getting rid of unnecessary clutter
At first glance, decluttering one’s life may seem like a frivolous or unnecessary practice. But in reality, it can be a highly transformative experience that helps us slow down and appreciate the simple things in life.
For Cait Flanders, this realisation hit home when she was in her late twenties and found herself perpetually caught up in the consumerism cycle that plagues so many of us today.
She earned more money than ever before, but it seemed like it only led to more spending and a constant yearning for more things – endless gadgets, clothing, home goods, etc.
Realising that none of this was making her happy or helping her achieve her goals, Cait decided to embark upon a yearlong challenge: she would not shop for an entire year.
During this process of decluttering her life, Cait realised that less really is more. While getting rid of 70% of her belongings may sound extreme, it gave her a newfound sense of freedom and allowed her to focus her attention on living more consciously each day.
If you want to learn more, you can read Cait’s book: The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, And Discovered Life Is Worth More.
By slowing down and relishing each small pleasure – fresh groceries from the farmer’s market, fragrant flowers from the garden, invigorating walks outside – Cait was genuinely able to appreciate all that life offers.
2. Take time for yourself each day to relax and rejuvenate
Making time for self-care is essential if you want to be able to slow down and appreciate the beauty of life.
Brooke McAlary advocates for a balance between taking care of yourself every day and the culture that tells us we need to spend a lot of money on ourselves to feel better.
In her latest book, CARE: The radical art of taking time, she talks about finding this balance. Instead, Brooke suggests that self-care should be simple, slow, and sustainable. She calls it “small care”.
“Small care should be available to every one of us, every day, regardless of our circumstances, geography, income, physical or mental health, abilities or disabilities.”
By incorporating small acts of small care into our daily lives, we can begin to step back from the hectic pace of modern life and reconnect with what truly matters.
Whether it’s taking a few moments for meditation in the morning, making time for a soothing bath at night, or going for a mindful stroll through nature, these small rituals help us ground ourselves and savour each precious moment.
And when we practise self-care regularly, we build resilience against stress and wind up feeling more refreshed and energised than ever before.
3. Create more from scratch
It can be challenging to slow down in a world that is constantly moving faster and faster. But as Li Ziqi demonstrates, taking the time to make things from scratch can be a beautiful and rewarding experience.
After leaving her job as a DJ in the city, Li Ziqi returned to her grandmother’s home in the countryside of Sichuan, China. She began making videos documenting traditional skills like preparing and cooking food, dying clothes, and making shoes and embroidery.
In the process, she found a new appreciation for the slower pace of life. As Li Ziqi shows us, there’s beauty and joy to be found in taking the time to do things the old-fashioned way.
So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by the fast pace of the world, remember Li Ziqi’s example and try your hand at making something from scratch.
Even if you don’t live in the country, you can still find ways to slow down and connect with the world around you.
You could start a vegetable garden in your backyard, or begin preparing meals using whole, unprocessed ingredients. By taking the time to create things from scratch, we can fill our lives with deep appreciation.
4. Connect with nature whenever possible
One simple yet powerful way to slow down and de-stress is to be in nature.
Whether it’s hiking in the mountains (Cait), spending all day working on a farm (Li), or simply tending to a backyard garden (Brooke), immersing ourselves in the great outdoors has been shown to have numerous benefits for our health and well-being.
Spending time in nature encourages creativity and helps us focus better on the tasks at hand. In other words, being outside helps us to tune out distractions and allows us to flow more easily with the natural rhythms of life.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your hectic schedule or need to refill your tank, get in nature and watch as your pace slows down as a result.
The world is your playground – seek out its beauty and savour it mindfully every day.
5. Embrace silence
Whether we’re doing our daily chores or sharing a meal, embracing silence or seeking quiet can help us connect more deeply with ourselves and those around us.
Pausing our digital and media distractions allows us to focus on what is happening right now. This can be as simple as taking a break during a busy day to look up at the sky, or it might mean taking an evening walk without any earbuds playing your favourite podcast.
When it comes to embracing silence, I’ve always struggled. I’ve viewed silence as dull and lifeless, something to be avoided.
But I realise that there’s much beauty and wisdom in taking the time to slow down and cultivate stillness — and it’s a practice that all of the amazing women above share.
If you’re interested in reading more about how to create pockets of silence in your life, check out these articles from our friend Leo from Zen Habits:
So next time you are feeling frazzled, take a step back and tap into the power of silence.
The art of slow living: final thoughts
I hope you’ve enjoyed this exploration of slow living. Whether it’s through making things from scratch, spending time in nature, or embracing silence, there are many ways to savour life’s simple pleasures.
I encourage you to experiment and find what works best for you and remember that slow living is a journey, not a destination.
Do you have any slow living tips to share? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.