From Experiment To A Lifestyle Shift
The Importance of Exploring The Concept Of Slow Living
In 2021, I realized I was wasting time on activities that offered little or no value (like habit-forming technologies) rather than spending time on the things I prioritized (like family). So I decided to unplug and live slower. My experiment is now a lifestyle and I’d like you to consider joining me to discover how the Unplug, Live Slow movement reminds us that life is every moment, not a destination.
As technology becomes more and more prevalent and intricately intertwined in our lives, it’s important to understand how to best live with it while exploring and reflecting on our connection to it. How does technology disrupt our priorities and how can we learn to unplug and live slowly?
“Slow Living” is a way of life stemming from the slow food, slow eating movement. It emphasizes slower approaches to aspects of everyday life using mindfulness, being in the present moment, monotasking rather than multitasking. The aim is to choose a life that is in alignment with our values by reducing stress, connecting to the Earth and to others, and releasing ourselves from the obligations of the modern (2022) pace of life as dictated by cultural or societal norms and especially those imposed by certain improvements in technology. To boil it down: disconnect to slow down to be more present.
Ways to Be Happier and Less Stressed through Slow Living
Technology has changed the way that we interact and reshaped our cultural norms, leaving us overwhelmed and less fulfilled. Technology isn’t bad, but we are letting it dictate our lives and our habits rather than the other way around. It should be a tool to use rather than the means itself.
I have a theory that human beings are happiest when they're interacting and fully present with each other. Slow living helps reduce stress, increase fulfillment and happiness, and can even reduce spending and financial concerns.
The solution to modern-day overwhelm and feelings of unfulfillment are:
A conscious shift towards understanding your priorities
Making (not finding) time for those priorities in your schedule, even in the face of cultural norms
Understanding the role that technology plays in keeping us from the things that we want
Books to Inspire Slow Living
As I began to explore the concept of Unplug, Live Slow, I connected to my childhood, when technology didn’t rule my life. It reminded me of one of my favorite books, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The novel examines the relationships between the characters and how they connect with their neighbors, friends, and family to navigate life together through celebrations and troubling times.
During their free time, they wrote and performed plays. They created a literary society and “published” newspapers. They spent lots of time together, being creative, and in nature. They didn’t need technology to find joy. Instead, they created it.
Another book that inspired me to live slowly is Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. Currey studied the routines of different artists and famous individuals throughout history. Each page is a vignette about someone that focuses on how they structured their daily living and habits.
It is interesting how they filled their days, as most of them lived pre-computers, pre-TV, and pre-smartphones. Observing what their lives looked like without these technologies and how much more time they were able to dedicate to their crafts and to their friends and family in person (or long daily walks in nature) inspired me to try something new - to see how I could stretch my comfort and my mind to produce amazing work with the absence of distraction and the presence of space and boredom.
In a third book, No Impact Man by Colin Beavan, I'm inspired by the angle of sustainable living and was surprised to see how closely related sustainability and slow living are tied together. Beavan decided to do a one-year experiment on sustainable living. Although his main goal was to reduce his carbon footprint and environmental impact, what he found was much deeper than that. He found more connection to his family, to his craft, to himself, and to the world at large. He discovered more purpose and joy, better living and healthier eating, less stress, and more happiness. By questioning the technologies and conveniences in his life (like TV and 24/7 access to the internet) he was able to be more present and live more fully. He realized, "We weren't just changing the way we lived, changing the way we lived was changing us.”
Ways To Get Started with Slow Living
Slow Living means a lot of different things - the beauty is that it will mean something different for you than it does for me. Life is in the moments, in mindfulness, and in observing what you're doing – slowly. The main questions to ask ourselves are:
What are my actual priorities?
What shoulds or defaults are getting in the way of making time for and enjoying my priorities?
Where is technology inadvertently taking my time (scrolling, email checking, TV watching, article reading, etc.)? Where can I take back this time and instead use it on the priorities that I listed in number 1?
First, we need to understand our true priorities. Next, we need to ask which social norms and pressures based around technology getting in the way of our priorities? This might be things such as working late, the urge to stay up-to-date with social media, or checking your phone first thing when you get up. Once these “shoulds” or inadvertent habits have been identified, decide where you want to make a shift to a more fulfilling daily existence.
Technology isn’t bad, but many of us have fallen into a vicious cycle of letting technology dictate our time rather than the other way around. Technology is a very useful tool and has made many things in life faster, easier, and more accessible. But are there times when we use it as a crutch? Are there moments when we’ve scrolled through a platform for an hour and don’t even remember what we saw?
Finding Joy in Slow Living
Discovering the technology traps we might be falling into helps us assess how these accidental habits have stolen some of our joy. Learning to be less reliant on technology will help us find more fulfillment.
I ask, What joys might you find from living more mindfully, more slowly in your day-to-day life? What impact might this have in other ways?
Consider filling out the following journal exercises to explore these topics further. Write what you find in the comments section below!
Which priorities in my life do I want to make more time and space for?
What are some things currently in my schedule in the shoulds or accidental habits category that aren't in line with the priorities that I've just written? What are some ways in which I can reduce or replace them with activities that relate to my priorities?
What are some ways I could assess my current relationship with technology, assess or question or explore? Where would I like to consider taking back some time from the screen? What are some ways I could discuss with my partner or my family to do some of these things together? What might that look like?
To continue exploring the idea of Slow Living,
join Lana in the Unplug, Live Slow movement at LanaKitcher.com.
If you're interested in learning a little more about slow living, here is a list of additional resources to further explore:
Seeking Slow: Reclaim Moments of Calm in Your Day by Melanie Barnes
In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore
The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wikking
Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life by Beth Kempton
Simply Living Well: A Guide to Creating a Natural, Low-Waste Home by Julia Watkins
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey
No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beavan