Increasingly, I feel like a character from a Disney movie in the 1940s, living in a small wooden cabin under a green canopy, getting food from the plants outside, and doing chores in a ridiculous old-fashioned way (yes, we air-dry our clothes on a clothes line with pins), with a soundtrack of birdsong in the background. I love it to pieces. But not everyone does.
In a world that strives to be fast, choosing to live in this slow and simple way is puzzling, if not a complete joke. But is it really? I suppose it is easy to dismiss it as escapism, naivete, or plain laziness looking from the surface. But at its core, the pillar of slow living is simply cultivating meaning in your life.
Markus and I come from traditional backgrounds and at one point ran predicted lives, meaning, study, work, relationship, family, work more, take occasional vacations, retire if we are lucky, and die. After successfully completing the first half of this chart, we individually spiraled into a depression, finding it hard to accept that this is all life has to offer.
Newsflash: this boring template is not all that life has to offer. In fact, there is no prize for living life this way. This road to being a busy-body, frantically following society’s progress chart, only leads to death in the end just the same. So what is the hurry?
Living slow also leads to death, of course. But it creates plenty of opportunities to spend your days in a way that gives you meaning and pleasure, lives your values, and is true to who you are. Slow living is definitely not a privilege of the retired. It is possible for anyone who is committed to their own truth, those unwilling to settle for anything less than living their dream life. Because why not? It is your life. You get to decide.
I suppose it is helpful to point out that living slow does not mean vegetating in bed or putting your foot up in a beach hammock all day. It is a practice of essentialism: meticulously choosing what goes into your day, deciding to do things that only add value, and refusing to do those that only distract or are not inherently meaningful for you.
A good example is indulging in meaningful work – spending hours doing something that matters to you, and ideally to the world, so you earn a living. The opposite is working – doing anything – for money, which kind of just sounds like prostitution.
I know you may say there are necessary sacrifices to be made, but at the cost of what? If you are dying inside, is it really worth it? There is an excellent video from Academy of Ideas that nailed this message: Your life and the people around you benefit from your self-fulfillment, not your self-sacrifice. Grind that into your head. The happier people are out there, the happier the world will be.
But I suppose choosing a way of life is also about what you are willing to live with and live without. I can only hope most people are making a conscious decision every day, and not trading an uncomfortable, if not miserable, present for an imagined better future. Interestingly, I have met an incredible number of people who will gladly torture themselves now as long as they can hope for something better tomorrow. But when is tomorrow? Whatever happened to being responsible for today?
We all have a choice, and these conscious decisions we make define how we live, or not live. What are your values? What is important to you? Are you doing things every day that support these? Because dissatisfaction quickly follows otherwise.
For us, we want to spend our days on things that add value, that give us pleasure, that we can stand behind; things we deliberately thought about and decided for ourselves. Slow living for us is spending every day with intention. It is not rushed, neither stagnant. It is filled with essentials – our essentials – and this makes our time in the tiny house meaningful.