The Art of Slow Living
"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated." - Confucius
Slow living, also known as mindful or simple living, is a movement born out of the 21st (and I would even argue the 20th) century. More and more we are seeing a niche known as the minimalist movement edge it's way into the mainstream. Blogs and podcasts like ZenHabits, The Minimalists, and Be More with Less have not just thousands, but millions of followers. Even the tiny house movement is trading in it's image as an eccentric lifestyle choice for one that seems more practical. How did this so called rebellion against modern life seem to suddenly gain traction?
The biggest reason people have started clamoring for a "less is more" lifestyle is because it is now being viewed as the quickest and easiest path to erasing financial debt and obtaining a life of emotional and physical freedom. With the advent of social media and innovative technologies, we are more connected than ever and not just with people. We are constantly in the loop with work, pop culture, world politics, and environmental concerns. All of this information is readily accessible, even if we are not looking for it, so we start to feel overloaded. It's only natural that a life without these things would seem like a burden lifted.
The truth is it's not easy to live intentionally. There is an art to living slow in our modern world. There is no quick fix if you find yourself swallowed up by a fast paced life, but I believe it is possible to feel lighter and happier with enough patience and discipline. One of the main reasons why I decided to start this blog is to show that it can be possible to live a simple and intentional life, while also existing peacefully amidst the demands of modern society.
In a nutshell, my philosophy can be described as this: Everything in moderation.
It's a common cliche, but one I feel is apt. Below are three big examples of what I mean.
- Social media. I believe social media is fundamentally a good thing. It allows us to stay in touch with friends and family who may be spread out across the world. However, it becomes a bad thing when instead of taking 10 minutes to check updates, we end up browsing our news feed for an hour or use it as a way to compare the worth of our lifestyle against someone else's.
- Material Possessions. There are certain things in life we need: food, clothes, a home. I'd even argue that we need beautiful items such as art or literature. A nice house filled with nice things is good. It makes us feel safe, secure, and comfortable. It becomes something negative when we own so many objects that we spend most of our time taking care of them (or worse we go into debt to own them) than we do enjoying or using them as tools to build up relationships.
- Sustainability. Generally speaking, to be sustainable means leading a life which is not harmful to the environment and builds up long-term ecological balance. For a long time I struggled with the decision to build our new house from the ground up. The best option is most definitely to purchase an already existing home. However, we are coming from an old fixer-upper that had become a major money pit. Truth be told, all we could afford were old fixer-uppers and the cost to build from scratch in our area of choice is on par with that market. So we decided the best option for our family would be to build, but we are doing so with energy efficient and environmentally friendly materials wherever possible.
I'm glad the simple living movement has gained popularity, especially among my millennial peers. I truly believe, if not taken to a stark extreme, we could all be a little more content and relaxed in our hectic lives by adopting a "more with less" attitude. No matter the decade, we will always struggle to find balance in our life, but the important thing is that we try.
“No such thing as the world becoming an easy place to save your soul in.” -Keats