Slowing Down to Live Well

Aug 17, 2020

“Good ideas come when you slow down.” —Sara Moulton

In a normal year, the summer months gave many of us the opportunity to slow down as the rest of the world seemed to do the same. Our work schedules shifted, Fridays became lesser of a work day and more part of the weekend, and more balance between work and play became easier to recognize.

As we begin to gaze into September with August over half gone, slowing down especially with so many unknowns and uncertainities in our world may just be the pace to step into in order to live well as well as think clearly and creatively.

Cookbook author and chef Sara Moulton shared the quote above when referencing her appreciation for the time that was taken during the recording of Julia Child’s PBS show in 1979 for the entire crew to sit down for lunch on each day of taping, dining together at long, clothed tables set with proper utensils and dinnerware, pouring glasses of wine and enjoying the food that had been part of that particular day’s production. She described it as civilized, and I think more largely this idea of slowing down not only when we dine, but also as we design our days and schedule invites us to honor our need to be present and give “bumpers” to life’s activities.

Among our life’s activities includes time to not be scheduled, to just be however “being” feels best for each one of us.

In a recent segment on NPR, media psychologist Pamela Rutledge shared why more and more of us are watching “comfort” television. Referring to shows from the past that we know the endings to, know the rhythm of the plot, the characters, etc., as a way of counteracting the uncertainty that is roiling in our lives. Choosing to slow down and tend to the stability we have influence over is important in our down time as well as in our everyday time – how we move through our days matters significantly to the quality of our days lived.

Of course, each of us has our own unique circumstances and responsibilities, but when we first acknowledge how we are feeling as we move forward through the next few months, we can give ourselves clarity about what we need to do so well. And slowing down regularly may just be the answer.

So how do we do that? How do we slow down?

  • Literally take time to notice the flowers as you go walking. There is no need to take photos as I have here, but simply, stop, gaze, smile, smell and delight in the natural beauty that will soon transition into the next season.
  • Read books that are not full of drama (fiction or non-fiction), nor are they about self-improvement, but rather books that make you chuckle, help you delight in everyday moments all the more. I am currently reading this book in the Gardeners’ Book series and found myself chuckling frequently through the first two essays.
  • Put boundaries around your “off-work” time. Whether your weekends are traditionally when you are not at work, or whenever your ‘weekends’ fall, leave work at the office/desktop/computer as much as you can, so you can return to work the next week refreshed. Read this post for more inspiration on reseting your approach to work.
  • Eliminate the word “should” from your vocabulary and therefore, your mind. Read more about how to do this and why to do this here.
  • Reduce the choices you have to make throughout your day and life. From the fun decisions to the tough decisions, clarify what you need and your priorities, and the decisions become far simpler. Cultivating routines for your daily and weekly schedule, as well as where you vacation, where you go shopping, what you buy. Buy consciously, but once you know what works best, stick to it and reduce the decision-making that has to happen.
  • Let go of comparing yourself to others. Make sure the people you engage with and/or follow on social media are those who inspire you rather than make you feel as though you are not enough or where you are is not where you should be at this moment. Sometimes we speed our lives up because we unconsciously are motivated by insecurity. Strengthen your self-awareness, become more comfortable in the now, and stride forward at your own pace.
  • Become more comfortable with letting go, and refrain from forcing outcomes. I have written multiple posts on this topic. Find them all here.

Initially choosing to slow down can be difficult as we have built up so much momentum and have become so accustomed to moving at a quick pace. If the past nearly six months has taught me anything is it that patience pays off and taking a breath during the times of transition does not slow down progress. In fact, taking regular breaths, slowing my pace actually makes life richer not only in that moment, but in the moments that follow as relationships are full of more appreciation, clearer decisions are made and unexpected creative ideas spring forth coming from seemingly nowhere. However, such creativity does not come from nowhere. Such ideas have always been there. We just finally gave it the space to present itself and reveal what it has been wanting to show us perhaps for quite some time.

The awesomeness of the life that is possible is waiting, but we may have to slow down to let it come to fruition. Let it. Slow down. Savor a life well lived.



11 thoughts on “Slowing Down to Live Well

  1. Thanks! I needed to read all of this today. Also, thank you for the recommendation of the Inn at Little Washington documentary. It was a delight.

  2. Like Ms. Rutledge, I find those cozy and formulaic British murder mysteries work a treat. I think you recommended Agatha Raisin a few months ago, and I’ve been loving the beautiful scenery and soothing predictability. Thank you!

    1. Megan, thank you for sharing! Funny enough the Harvard psychologist that was interviewed in the link I included shared it was British cosy mysteries that she too found so comforting during these times. You are in good company! (I am doing the same thing as well.)

  3. Such good advice and insight, particularly for our time. I discovered the British mysteries some time ago. Right now I am thoroughly enjoying “Lovejoy” on Acorn. It is the slow down time of my day with my needlework in hand and a cup of tea, life seems much more comforting. Have a lovely weekend everyone as the seasons are sneaking up on us!

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