How to live slow and have a more meaningful life

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.

38 thoughts on “How to live slow and have a more meaningful life

  1. I resonate with this. Although I’m accustomed to being a home buddy, the mandated quarantine has taken a toll on me. There doesn’t seem to be a barrier between work from home because of working from home and what seems to be a quick milk run has to be on schedule. Crazy how things are but I am learning to do what I can. After all, life doesn’t stop for anybody, int his case, no even a pandemic.

    I hope you guys are well.

    Hugs,
    Cae | http://caealen.com

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    1. Agreed. Quarantine is not easy. The mind falls into claustrophobia all too soon. Glad to know you are trying to cope and giving it what you got. What is keeping you together at these times?

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  2. The opposite is working โ€“ doing anything โ€“ for money, which kind of just sounds like prostitution.>> i can’t agree with you more on this. 4 years ago I also decided to leave my corporate job to help full time with our small publishing business. It’s not making millions, but the daily fulfillment of doing what we are passionate about is priceless. Of course, I also get to take care of my son full time and read and blog about reading. It’s not heaven, it’s stressful at times, but if at the end of the day and upon waking up I feel happy, then I guess that’s the most important thing.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your personal story. It is inspiring. And I support you all the way. There is something inherently fulfilling as a human being to find pride, joy, and purpose in what you do. Actually, can I recommend a series to you, it is called Raw Craft on YouTube with Anthony Bourdain. The show features artisans who live for their work and honor what they do. It is really nice.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your commitment to living intentional lives is commendable. You remind me of my middle son and his wife. They live a life much like yours. I admire them and you!

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    1. Thank you, Laurie. It is nice to know that more people are living this way, too. It is encouraging. I reflect about our life choices constantly, especially when met with challenges from others, but as long as we are being true to ourselves, I think we will be fine. Please send our greetings to your son and his family.

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  4. Even though I was a child of the 80โ€™s, I had a slow living childhood. My parents moved to some land in a school bus my dad had converted and even after we outgrew that when my brother was born, we still lived on a generator and had a tiny black and white camping tv. I remember hanging the clothes on the line as well. There are many things I miss about that freedom found in not โ€œchasingโ€. I am endeavoring to regain a lifestyle where I am conscientious about my choices in consumerism as well as across the board in lifestyle. Best of luck on your life journey!

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    1. That is a worthy endeavor. I feel it is about finding a lifestyle that works for the individual, something chosen, and consciously done. Otherwise, others will think and choose for you, and that is dangerous, not to mention expensive! Thank you for sharing a glimpse of your childhood, much appreciated. How different was your life growing up compared to the life you chose to lead as an adult?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Over my childhood, we did get things like standard electricity and dryers. I think where my adult life changed was buying into the premise that more makes you happy. Now I am being more thoughtful about what truly brings me joy. ๐Ÿ™‚

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        1. Thank you for this beautiful thought. I agree, it is not about having more but about having your essentials. Glad you are enjoying the results of your mindfulness. It is really impossible to go back once you see how easier and more meaningful life is when you make your own decisions.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey M&M,
    I love that you are living a self-determined life and that you are finding meaning in how you spend your time. I wish everyone could have that. I think you’re going to be great role models and inspire others to do the same! Quick question — which Disney movie? I’m thinking Snow White? Anyway, love your blog and I’ll stop by again soon! Mona

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    1. Thank you, Mona. Much appreciated. I had some conversations before with people who commented living this way has some elitism attached to it – that if you are struggling to make a living it is impossible to live slow. I thought anyone can choose to live slow because it is about spending your hours with intention, not with doing nothing. I am still very curious in exploring this comment on slow living, and interestingly, investing in self-awareness. What do you think about this concept? And it could be several Disney movies, but I am certain I am too brown to be Snow White. Haha!

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  6. A good mantra for me ~> “Less is More.” Fewer things. Less stress. Fewer commitments. Less Stress. Fewer distractions. Less dis-ease.

    Enjoy your tiny house and tiny cat!

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  7. I do believe you are right, Micah, with all you have said in the post. I am one of the people who has followed the set path and probably does torture myself with work, although I do like a lot of it, there is also a lot I hate.

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    1. Thank you, Roberta. I am glad you like most of your work. I hope the parts you hate still make it worth it. I think the important word here is choosing. We can all decide to follow the set path or do it differently. The danger is when we just do what we are told. If we are not mindful we feel empty, even if we look like a success on the surface.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve always lived in the country and have always enjoyed living a slow life. I could never imagine myself living in a big city where everything is so fast-paced. I would get so overwhelmed! ๐Ÿ™‚ This is a great post!

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    1. Same. I wish I had neighbors like you and we will have cake and tea. I lived in the city before and loved it – I suppose it matched my state of mind then – but having learned a few things, slow living is better for us now. The days are still filled with activity but each is purposeful and nothing is wasted. It feels good to do that.

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  9. This sounds idealic, you guys! Living your values, having meaningful work, and making thoughtful choices that support what you’re all about is such a wonderful way to live. As someone who has more years behind me than I do ahead, I can tell you that “cultivating meaning in your life” is the best possible thing you can do for yourselves. Blessings to you!

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  10. I love the idea of slow living and on some days, I’m quite well at it.
    Your new way of life sounds glorious to me and having less stress certainly adds to the quality of your days.

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    1. Thank you. Slow living is also an awesome practice for being present. We are all given the same hours but going at it frantically or intentionally sure changes the experience. What is your daily experience as a busy bee? Has it changed a lot during lockdown?

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  11. Slow living comes naturally to me, especially now in retirement. After so many busy years of caregiving (children and elderly relatives) it is interesting to me to see how a young couple is creating a simple, meaningful life-style for yourselves.

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    1. Have you always enjoyed slow living or was it an adjustment after taking care of so many, Barbara? For us, we just want to live with intention and do things that work for us, not just follow a pre-determined progress chart. Life is more relaxing this way. Simple is the best for us, more than enough actually.

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      1. I was always content with the simple pleasures in life, a cup of tea with a friend, a walk in the woods with my husband, reading a book on the beach, gardening, shoveling snow, playing with my children, and now my grandchildren. Caring for elderly relatives was a challenge but it gave me precious time to spend with them and to hear their life stories. I agree, a simple life is more than enough.

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        1. I want to hang out with you! Sometimes I wonder if I am romanticizing my life, but actually, who cares if I do or do not! And I love your appreciation for the things that you have done. It is really the simple things that make life worth it. And I am grateful we are present to experience it.

          Liked by 1 person

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