Do You Need Slow Living Tips or A Mindset Shift?
We're a few days into this project now and I'm yet to share any solid tips on how to slow down! I had a think about this and wondered if I had any real tips?
I do have a few ideas but this is where my life coach training kicks in. By sharing tips, I'm prescribing a method which is really just a list of more things to do. And that doesn't really make a huge amount of sense!
Instead, today I think we need to talk about mindset.
The mindset of busy and the mindset of slow - then we can talk about how to shift from one to the other. Then we can talk about the ins and outs and the practicalities of slowing down!
I've shared my story of how I personally got to be so busy, which you can read here. However today's post is more inspired by an episode of the Slow Home podcast I listened to with Annie Raser-Rowland, who wrote the book The Art Of Frugal Hedonism. It's all about how to find pleasure in the simple things and realising we can get the same, if not more, pleasure out of lower consumption. (Listen to the podcast here)
The idea being that the less you feel you 'need' the less you have to work and the more freedom and time you have. They talk about the example of a stereotypical beer ad; friends on the beach, playing cricket, taking in the scenery, chatting and laughing away. The premise being that we all want to experience that scenario...friends, fun, sun. The beer ad (or insert any other thing) tells you that you can have all of this if you just buy xyz brand of beer/product/clothing/makeup/gadget.
Thinking about this another way, a home made picnic of sandwiches eaten on a picnic rug in the afternoon sun is just as enjoyable as sitting in the fancy restaurant across the road eating $50 steak - and if you have young kids, possible a lot more enjoyable as they are free to roam!
That's not to say that you should never opt for the steak, but keeping that for special occasions makes it more special. It maintains the novelty. When you have the steak every week, you come to expect it and the novelty wears off. You start thinking you deserve the steak Every time. Suddenly the sandwiches feel like you're missing out on something, when that's actually not the case.
This idea is colloquially known as Keeping Up With The Jones, and it's probably effecting you even if you think of yourself as someone who doesn't prescribe to societies norms all that much. Marketing is clever like that.
Researchers have been studying this phenomenon of stabilising happiness for years. They call it the hedonic treadmill. Thankfully, after a little reading and experimenting, I've discovered that you can use this to your advantage to shift your mindset! Especially if you are one of those people I mentioned who thinks of yourself as a little different to everyone else (hint: we all have this tendency!)
What if, instead of increasing your lifestyle as you start making more money, you decide to buck the trend and choose a lower level of consumption? Imagine having less pressure on your earning potential? Imagine feeling like you're in on some awesome secret because you've figured out how to live WITHIN YOUR MEANS instead of always playing catch up!
With everything mindset related, it's a good idea to ask yourself the question: How can this relate to me and my circumstances? How can I apply this idea in a way that works for me.
Personally, this has meant not going up to the big shopping centre near me unless I'm going for something specific. I used to go up there a lot when Max was little, just to get out of the house and see people. Needless to say, Id always buy at least a few things, which we rarely needed. So I changed that habit and instead we go to a busy park or visit a friend. Implementing a capsule wardrobe style means I've streamlined my clothes purchases. So I'm trying to apply this to my life in lots of little ways.
The mindset of slow is really all about opting out of the societal pressure to keep up, be it all, have it all and do it all. It's finding pleasure in missing out on a lot of things, in favour of prioritising a few things.
Slow means accepting and relishing in your limitations. There's only so much you can do and not all of it has to be for productivity. It's ok to do things purely for the pleasure of it. Imagine going for a long leisurely walk just to check out the neighbourhood. That sounds like something you do on holidays! And I can guarantee it's as good for your wellbeing as a hardcore sweat sesh.
The beauty and irony of making this shift to a slower pace is that it feels more indulgent and luxurious than the busy life ever could . And aren't we all busy because we're trying, on some level, to achieve that?
So how to make the mindset shift? Well, have a good think about this post. How does it apply to you? How does it resonate and what parts appeal most to you? Start there. If you want the slower life, you just have to choose it. Once you've made up your mind what you want..you'll automagically start making different choices. As always go gently, be kind to yourself and allow things to evolve over time.
I'll talk about this a little more tomorrow, especially as it relates to our kids. But in the meantime, head over to Instagram and leave me a comment on my most recent post, the one relating to this blog. And share your slow living moments using #slowdowninseptember