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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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August 02 2012

The Pleasures of Slow Living

By Mark Sisson
126 Comments

We all live it or live with it to some extent – our society’s obsession with speed. Whether it’s with omnipresent traffic, constant deadlines, or crammed schedules, too many of us spend too much time running or overrun. The pace itself can over time become a lens for life, our focus in constant erratic motion. In the cursory sweeps of our day, we miss out on the nuanced textures of life – the sensory pleasures of a good meal, the subtle changes in our growing child’s face, the quiet beauty of a weekend morning, the warm connection with a partner or friend. What do we do when we find ourselves caught in an unsustainable momentum? The answer for some is an internationally growing – and diversely focused – movement known as slow living.

Today experts tell us that runaway stress has us teetering on the verge of a public health crisis with three-quarters of Americans reporting they “experience stress at levels that exceed what they define as healthy.” Undoubtedly, our obsession with speed contributes to this trend. We’re taking on more than we can reasonably process. We’re doing more and experiencing less.

One of the central voices of the slow living movement, Carl Honoré, argues our society is caught in an ever escalating “arms race” of speed, and we’re all paying the consequences. In one of the movement’s seminal books, In Praise of Slowness, Honoré illuminates a sad reality shaped by everything from fast food to “one-minute bedtime stories” as well as research on parents who spend twice as much time on email as they do on playtime with their children, workers who face burnout in their twenties and thirties, and doctors whose minimal time with patients causes them to miss pertinent if not critical information. Our addiction to speed, Honoré warns, is undermining our personal relationships, our societal civility, our individual fulfillment, and physical health.

Speed in this sense is more than a velocity, as slow living proponents explain. It morphs sooner or later into a personal and collective mindset. It becomes the rationalization behind all manner of deleterious choices. From a society standpoint, for example, it can be relying on “fast” farming methods (e.g. CAFOs, GMOs) that produce short term profits with long term consequences. On a personal level, it can encompass all of the games we play with ourselves to stay above water like eating quick instead of nourishing food, neglecting fitness and play, using stimulants to get through another afternoon, giving up sleep, and multitasking our way through each day. In our attempts to meet the most immediate obligations, we miss filling our most essential needs.

Beyond the logistical strategies and short-term fixes, there’s a better way, say slow living advocates. Slow living, according to its proponents, is predominantly about the attention and intentionality we bring to the spheres of life. It’s about living one’s values and giving out time and attention accordingly. Slow living as it exists today grew out of the slow food movement, which began in Italy during the 1980s with a call to focus on the sources and experience of food. The broader scope of the movement today reflects the getting back to basics ideal behind slow food. Then it was about supporting regional food, traditional cooking, and and the personal and social pleasures of eating. Today in the various and sundry offshoots of slow living (e.g. slow parenting, slow design, slow travel, slow money, slow education, and slow health), it can mean everything from seeking out complementary and alternative therapies to working (and living on) less, from observing “secular sabbaths” from technology to savoring the pleasures of slow sex.

Experience tells us that slow activities and a slower pace make for a more relaxing experience. People everywhere take up “slow hobbies” like knitting or wood carving (even if they never thought of them in this light). We enjoy the quieting influence of an ambling stroll at night. We relish the slow and sensory feast of a big holiday dinner.

Yet, there’s science to support the call to decelerate. Long, slow low-level aerobic workouts, for example, are correlated with everything from improved memory and increase longevity to reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. The Body by Science strength training protocol, in which loads are lifted at an extremely slow rate, can result in greater muscle gain for some people and can help diversify a strength training regimen. “Slow agriculture” that raises livestock with biologically appropriate feeds (e.g. grass grazing) and grows crops without the use of the synthetic pesticides make for a more nourishing (and less toxic) food supply. Activities that induce the quiet state of mental flow can ease symptoms of anxiety and challenge us in positive, healthy ways.

To advocates, the crux of slow living refuses quantification. Living slowly ultimately means living deeply. Slow travel, for example, is both a lesson in its own right and a metaphor for the movement. There’s something missed in hitting the postcard sites of a city we travel to and then moving on to the next destination. We have the photo memento for our collection, but we leave relatively unchanged. Committing to a single destination for as much time as our vacation allows gives us the chance to delve into the culture of a place – to experience the subtler but more telling characteristics of a locale. We meet the people, hear the stories, feel the communal rhythm. With time and attention, we encounter a place and let its influence permeate us. We return home different, richer for the journey. Slow movement advocates talk about the importance of incubation, that rich period in which the influence of an experience synthesizes with self. Time and mental space is critical for this absorption. Slow living – in all its spheres – seeks above all to cultivates a reflection and nurturance our immediate gratification culture often eschews. Proponents say it calls us to commit our time and passion to what feels most natural and life-giving.

How do I see the connection between slow living and Primal living? I think slow living on some level reclaims what is natural in human relations, basic sustenance, and life balance. Though I might suggest a more worthy slow food ritual than bread baking, I’m won over to the overall concept. Contrary as I am, I appreciate an effort to challenge conventional thinking.

More than that, however, I like how slow living in many respects brings us closer to some of our evolutionary patterns. Sure, Grok wasn’t pondering the virtues of a “slow” stock portfolio or holding workshops on tantric sex (although who knows). Nonetheless, the core of the movement rings true – and timeless. There’s a reason we miss quiet weekends untethered to technology. There’s a reason a city with ample park space and a vibrant pedestrian zone feels more inviting than a congested sea of skyscrapers and cars. There’s a reason we feel uniquely fulfilled cooking and sharing a homemade meal with others. These were the basic experiences of our ancestors. Humanity evolved with rhythms and rituals modern acceleration has left in the dust. Our psyches haven’t caught up with the change of pace. Life makes more sense the slow way.

As slow living advocates explain, it’s not about moving through life at a snail’s pace. Slow living calls us to bring intention to our mental tempo. We exert the energy and speed we want to conjure for a particular task, but we don’t get caught up in an addiction to pace. It’s about deciphering a “sweet spot” for living, a personally optimal rhythm for life that serves us best. We can be challenged without being overwhelmed. We can feel recharged without being stagnant. A good Primal life seeks that same sweet spot – an individually determined set point for thriving. Slow living can be one more framework to help you cultivate that goal.

Thanks for reading today. Let me know your thoughts on slow living. Have a great end to the week, everyone!

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126 thoughts on “The Pleasures of Slow Living”

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  1. Its so true, slow living can really make life more beautiful. When you slow down, life’s details shine through and show their beauty. Staying away from stress is oh so important, especially in today’s world. Just slowing down and thinking about situations can really reduce stress, and improve living. I think this really ties nicely into Mark’s “play” posts. When you slow down, and stay in the moment, you will feel more fulfilled in the end. Great post Mark. Anyone agree?

    1. Nicely said, Max. Too many people don’t live in the moment. They are constantly worrying about the future, stressing out over things that might not even happen. A little pre-planning is a good thing, but we should never let it get so out of hand that it takes over our existence.

      If stress is a constant companion, try EFT or FasterEFT. It’s a simple way of replacing negative thought patterns with positive, calming ones. It doesn’t work for everyone or in every instance, but overall it supposedly has about a 60 percent success rate. I’ve had good luck with it for a number of issues, both emotional and physical.

      1. I was like “oooh, faster EFT. Wait! This article is about slower”. But I googled FasterEFT anyway.

    2. For me it’s doing historical reenactment – ren faires, pirate fairs, Victorian, steampunk – playing in a slower-paced world, wearing clothes that take a while to put on because there are no zippers or Velcro.

    3. I agree, but our tendency in the Western world to multitask makes living in the moment and living slowly very, very difficult. For example, I recently went for a hike and was listening to my favorite podcasts until I realized it was distracting from what I was there for, to feel more one with nature and take in the natural beauty of the forest and mountains. I don’t listen to podcasts while hiking anymore 🙂

    4. Yes! Slow living also makes you feel like you have more time on your hands to do things. more mindful and more fulfilled when accomplishing a task. multitasking leave you unsatisfied and just scattered.

    1. No question. It brings me to the moment. I don’t want to be anywhere else when I am aboard.

      We are planning a circumnavigation soon and I’ve been wondering how to stock and preserve “primal” food for weeks/months. It is one of the great benefits of grains: they store practically forever. Drying, canning and sprouting (which doesn’t get much mention here), seem good skills to acquire.

  2. Love. It. Our family are in the process of completely redesigning our lifestyle and fundamental to this is moving to a slower way of living. It makes so much sense and as a society we have moved so far away from it. My family, at least, need to move a little closer.

  3. I’ve not heard of this idea expressed as such. But it makes sense. I’d phrase it a bit differently. There are only a handful of truly important things in life. One’s God, One’s health, family and friends, perhaps one or two other unique things for each of us. The key is to spend As much time and Attention as possible on those few things.

    Clear away life’s unimportant detritus.

  4. people always think my family is crazy when we tell them our kids dont watch TV or have video games or their own computer- they play outside – we go to the park – we vacation to the mt’s and do trail runs – they dont understand that a card game before bed time is better for the family then everyone in their own room texting, listening to music and surfing the web- we have just excepted it and start off conversations with new friends and say we’re kooks – this is how we eat and live different but dont worry we love you the same if you like it or not

    1. I have yet to cut my kids off from TV completely, but I don’t watch TV and the reaction I get are amazing to me. Is it really that shocking that I DO things instead of sitting in front of a box with moving pictures and pointless scenarios? When I say family trail run they are like “What is that?” Most of this world has become so untouched with nature. It is really sad.

      1. I think people are often weirded out when they mention some product that’s been advertised on TV and I say I’ve never heard of it… mostly because I don’t watch (much) TV. There are very few shows I actually watch at all, and half the time they’re not on TV (being only 4 episodes a season or something).

        My kids watch TV, but not much, and really very little in the way of commercial TV. They do enjoy computers and gaming though. Trying to wean them off that a bit!

        Personally, I like the idea of slow living. I sort of move in that direction myself. I like nothing more than taking a walk in the forest and just thinking, or reading a book, or just sitting in the sun daydreaming!

        1. I used to watch a lot of TV (and still pay way too much money to get cable). I have no idea why I stopped, but it happened around the time I got serious about Paleo….

    2. You are not the only one.Our TV is in the basement(no heat). It is only used for a movie a few times a month. We even go to the library,and play with kitty and baby chickens. Take a walk down to the mail box. All the time we are talking and spending time together.

    3. I’m always amused when people (nose in the air) say, “I never watch TV”, as if it falls into the same category as engaging in satanic rituals.

      There’s nothing wrong with watching TV as a form of entertainment, just as there’s nothing wrong with reading a book, playing cards, listening to music, etc. These are all personal choices. The problem with any of these things, particularly with electronic devices, is that they can become addictive.

      It isn’t necessary to be on the run all the time. Sitting down and relaxing occasionally (in front of the TV, if that’s your thing) is slow time, good for both brain and body. Just don’t let it become a 24/7 habit.

      1. Agreed. Unfortunately (and this is where the anti-tv mindset comes into play) many families use TV time as their sole slow time. Rather than interacting with one another, they simply sit in the same room and state at the screen in silence. We went years without TV and only just got it again in the past two weeks. I’ve already noticed a drop in productivity, activity, and interaction. I’m taking steps to remedy that but, for most of America, sitting in front of the TV constantly is considered the norm.

      2. I agree; so good to hear your spin.
        How did saying “I don’t watch TV” become so politically correct, I wonder.

        Many types of entertainment, in this
        context, without judgement,are valuable.
        To me, the key is being conscious with
        your choices. Only listen to the commercials, if you are interested in that product (or in the mastery of
        presentation); only watch the next
        show that comes on, if you really want
        to watch it, etc.
        How many professing “I don’t watch TV”
        are texting all the time? I’m just sayin’

  5. I think this our obsession with speed is a symptom of a much deeper probably. We’re obsessed with reaching some end goal and rarely stop to enjoy the process of getting there.

    It’s not necessarily about forcing yourself to move slowly – it’s about appreciating everything you do as something to be enjoyed in itself and not just a means to an end. Slowing down often follows naturally.

  6. I think this our obsession with speed is a symptom of a much deeper problem. We’re obsessed with reaching some end goal and rarely stop to enjoy the process of getting there.

    It’s not necessarily about forcing yourself to move slowly – it’s about appreciating everything you do as something to be enjoyed in itself and not just a means to an end. Slowing down often follows naturally.

    1. Nicely said Z, happiness is a journey and not a destination…

      Nothing more upsetting than seeing young kids crying out for their parents attention, but how can they compete with iphones/ blackberries!?

      When I catch myself not enjoying the moment, its time to turn off all communication tools for an hour, and just spend time in the now. Just that one simple trick puts everything in slow living mode

  7. Well it’s good to know I’m not the only one who burnt out in their early 30’s. The climax of which was a trip to the ER with “the most severe panic attack” the doctor had ever seen.

    The last 6 months have been about learning to slow down, listen to my body, and most importantly learning to live with less of everything – money, food, entertainment. I had no idea there was actually a “slow” movement encompassing this.

    Great post!

  8. For years before my daughter was born my husband and I did slow living vacations up in the Alaskan wilderness, paddling a canoe or raft. Our days were guided by the rising and setting of the sun, and by the sighting of a bear or wolf or caribou taking us for a hike in this direction or that. We need to incorporate more slow living though in our daily life. Thanks for the article, I’m glad the concept has a name. Off topic, but I want to say what a wonderful resource the site is, fairly new to the primal/paleo concepts and I enjoy perusing the site, and yesterday sent my mother (in desperate need of a primal life) some links to articles on joint health and supplementation. The site is a treasure trove of info!

    1. Hopefully you weren’t completely going by the sun up in Alaska. Assuming it was summer that would put in bed around 1 am and up again at 4 or 5! (Depending on where you are of course) 😉 Anyway, no better place to get lost and slow down if you ask me!

      1. 2 trips we had basically 24 hours of light in the arctic (others later in the year, further south). Some days we would be up until 3 or 4 am shocked at the time but then sleep until 12. Maybe this is actually some insight into Grok, but when living out in the elements for 2 weeks, hiking or paddling all day and sitting on a bear barrel in the evening (not a plush sofa), sleeping 8+ hours a day/night was not an issue. Being away from it all was magical.

  9. Much of my life I’ve thought that I was doing something wrong. I’ve been finding that much of the time I was right and it was modern life that was wrong. I like to check this website most days. I also like to spend time checking Facebook, the various news websites, and others. Today — right now — I am going to abscond from the internet for a while. Have a wonderful day, everyone!

  10. I realized last year that my mind was engaged with something for every waking moment. Music playing, TV, computer. There was no down time at all.
    I’m trying to break away from everything, and I will eventually. I get some free time for my mind to slow down and roam around every day now. I just need to expand that time.

  11. anyone else see a little irony in an article on the value of slow living followed by a plug for a cookbook of “quick and easy” meals? having said that, i like the quick and easy meals, because i can then slow down some other portion of my life.

    1. I do that too… I have the time, but I’m in a habit of skimming, it’s so ironic – even though I’m very interested in the ‘slow’ concept and attentiveness. It’s really difficult, when it’s so ingrained. We were taught speed reading at school.

  12. We have certainly embraced the slow cooking movement in our lives. It has been such a blessing and so liberating. We take Sundays and just cook all day long–the whole family. It encourages us to work together, to communicate, learn or hone skills and to enjoy our time together.

    We have given up TV and our kids (3 and 5) do not watch TV except for the Olympics and the Tour de France. It has encouraged them to be creative and for us to engage with them. We also very rarely use our computers at home.

  13. As long as we maintain our present course of 40+ hour, unenlightened, working class dogs we will be slaves to the clock in every aspect of our lives.

  14. I loved the tune by S&G from the 70’s– Slow down, you move too fast, you gotta make the morning last….

    I have to say that since going primal I have begun to truly embrace the simple slow pleasures of life –like playing hide and seek with our dog, or tickling our 2 year old grandson and listening to him laugh– especially the time I spend in prayer– making sure the cellphone is off, the tv is off, and I get to a quiet place!

    1. yah Jack Johnson has a song called:
      “Inaudible Melodies”
      and it plays like this…
      Slow down everyone
      You’re moving too fast
      Frames can’t catch you when
      You’re moving like that

  15. Wow. A daily reader to this amazing blog and having been living primally for maybe 18 months now, and this is possibly one of my favourite articles. It really hits home and is so true. It definately makes a lot of sense to me. Something that I will definately be practising and applying over the coming days/weeks and beyond. Thanks again Mark! I love this life!

  16. I’ve completely identified with this way of living. However, I’ve been unable to articulate it so wonderfully. I will most certainly be sharing this article with friends! Thanks so much!

  17. Every time I think about taking on more stuff to do I remember a quote from Gandhi: “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

  18. I am sitting here at work, working on a deadline, just waiting for the day to end. I will drive home, eat dinner, put the kids to bed and then go to bed myself. I will wake up the next day and do the same thing. Can’t really see a way to get off the merry-go-round.

    1. It would take reflection and a conscious choice to examine your life and find even seconds where can can make changes. Nothing worth having is easily achieved.

      1. My tv got fried in a thunderstorm about a week ago and I don’t have a computer, only my iPhone. Since the storm I’ve been living sans tv. It’s been wonderful. I’ve been reading more, I’ve been illustrating a kids book I wrote over a year ago. It’s amazing how much time one has without the distraction of technology.

    2. Simple suggestion:
      Yoga
      If you can attend classes (not far from work or home) do it by all means; if no do dvds. It really works
      Also have a frank look at yourself and your job: I remember once I spent almost 3 years in a miserable job I dreaded to go to every day … there was some justification: just after 9/11 almost all of my friends in Information Technology were out of work, and I had a “good” paying one.
      The way I reason now is this: it is better to earn $10 an hour in a job you like compared to $30 in a job you dread to go into it every morning

  19. How nice to live with slow! I do not take planes, trains hate and I love to walk fast. I appreciate the progress because if there was no internet I could not read this site, if there were no cell phones would have less ability to relate with friends but all must be done with limitation. I think that “running” too much is harmful, injurious, everything becomes superficial and do not have the opportunity to deepen the relationship with others.

  20. “It’s about living one’s values and giving out time and attention accordingly.” YES.

    Last year, I finally studied my mind when I felt moments of severe self-criticism or stress. I noticed that the “to do list” was sitting there with all sorts of “unacquired” talents–failures. In this horrible list were: fluency in multiple languages, several musical instruments, a certain very fast running pace… I felt frustrated that I’d hit my mid-forties without achieving all of these.

    But then asked myself, what if I just got magically handed these talents and skills? I then realized I’d still do what I’m doing: work, feed and love my child, exercise as able, seek out my friends and family to just spend time. I wouldn’t go play in a band instead, or fly off to other countries just to use my language skills. I’d gotten this crazy life list from a demanding dad and a fancy education or who-knows-what.

    I realized that I didn’t have to be Buckaroo Banzai to be worthy to live. And that my life is simply lovely with work, family, friends, and caring for the health of all of these. All is so much better now.

    1. Thank you for sharing that insight.

      I know that unacquired talents feeling all too well.. too many interesting things are still waiting! ;o

      The realization that you had is something that I will contemplate about. 🙂

    2. Okay, big old +1 to this comment. I have had a similar mid-40s moment where I went over all the accomplishments I had “failed” to achieve. In fact, I’m still working through some of this baggage. So here’s my toast to being in the same boat. And gigantic +1 to the Buckaroo Banzai reference!!

      1. Yep! I’m in my mid-40s! I’m on track for my age group, eh? 🙂

        I whistled the B.B. theme all throughout yesterday. Remember that?

        And yes, Ethan, the hard thing IS that the world is so interesting, and there is so little time. The fact that I completely cleared my schedule and pantry to make way for this lifestyle to save my kid suggests that if anything is REALLY cool enough, I’ll do it. Apparently, cooking and eating whole foods and playing with my kid turned out to be completely compelling. I would never have guessed this would be a fun-filled passion until I tried it out of desperation.

    3. Hi don’t give up in the musical instruments!
      I enjoy my (almost nightly) practice with the keyboard playing boogie-woogies, with the boon microphone nearby, and I have a blast out of it!
      Whiskey, Brandy and Gin nearby no doubt helps. Yes, it is with the earphones not to interfere with the other tribal personnel at home…
      As long as you enjoy the practice/performance it is OK!!!
      But if it is a chore, leave it without remorse and dedicate yourself to something you really enjoy (maybe painting?)
      I am “saving” learning new instruments for when I grow up (I am 60 now). The next one will be the the fiddle (I think, may be I will do the drums instead)

      1. Yes, I will hold onto my piano (kid plays), mandolin, and accordion. Right now, a couple weeks away from 47, my life is insane. Work, cook and eat, play with/be with child, read a bit and exercise as able… sleep. Repeat. Some day, maybe! Maybe not!

    4. I agree and have given up (for now), some talents I wish to acquire, but it is still not easy to find the balance. I need some stimulation from new ideas (hence in part my discovery this year of the primal/paleo world) and have done a lot of reading this year on nutrition. Has it been a good use of time? I think so but maybe I should find myself more content and in the moment playing Candyland (I can’t stand it). As another reply stated, there are so many interesting things . . . .

      1. My daughter used to beg me to play with the dollhouse with her when she was a toddler. I felt like I needed a martini first, I swear. I was not made to play at that level. Apparently Alexander Hamilton LOVED to get down and play with his kids at their level, so it has nothing to do with intelligence, I guess. But some other factor I do not have!

        It is hard to happily play Candyland if you do not want to play Candyland. Don’t beat yourself up. You are allowed to not like it. 🙂 And to try to trick them into doing something else. Or… to have a NorCal Margarita and totally dominate the board! I used to set a timer and say, “Mama will play for 20 minutes.” That way, I had hope.

    5. that’s a truly wise insight. So many of us are dissatisfied with ourselves, because we’ve accepted other people’s dreams for us as our own. There is so much pressure to be extraordinary, to excel, to shine, that we lose our appreciation for the ordinary beauty of an ordinary day.

    6. Huh. I have a list too. And sometimes it crossed my mind that learning x would not change anything. However, I did go way out of my way to take surfing lessons. And I live no where that would ever be useful, in central NY. It was darn fun, though! My husband thought it was a big waste of time and money, but most people I mentioned it to were wistful, saying they have always wanted to try that…sometimes not being practical is a good thing!

  21. Good comments above. A major problem in our society is the frenzy for economic security or success; people are now working 80 hr weeks just to keep their jobs, or 2 or more jobs just to stay afloat. Big mortgages, too much consumerism, lack of savings, frenetic demanding bosses. And our economy and goals are too often dominated by the hyperthymic and hypomanic ideals that our competitive society worships. (make that fortune and beat out all the losers. Die with the most toys & you win. No time to waste. You can sleep when you’re dead. If you can’t do the job on time, I’ll find someone who can).
    Backing off from this frenetic pace is considered failure (of course, this is an attitude fostered by many bosses; they don’t care about your personal health or life goals!) But many times it comes from within, also, so is a good reason for a periodic self-check.

  22. These are great suggestions. As I know all it’s tough to cut off completely from TV but at least we can do things to make lessen the load and allow us to enjoy life using other venues like reading, using the computer, getting OUTSIDE the house! I recently removed two of the cable boxes and I only have 1 TV in the house now. I’m not sure I can go all the way and just cut cable completely but I’m making progress.

    1. Life is still about enjoyment! We are trying to cut out TV in the evenings to help us get to sleep and just unplug. But, we still watch the very few shows we enjoy. It’s the surfing just to find something that we cut out.

  23. i believe in slow living 100%. it took me many (adult) years to realize this. and i still have to slow myself down at time, as i tend to naturally move fast (most of the time!). i know i am healthier & happier when i take time to breathe & live a slower life.

  24. Oh man. I did a research paper and competed in speech my senior year with this topic (6 years ago!). Interesting to read more about and see that this is a real movement. We really do rush our way through life. I’m tired of going to bed and thinking, “Where did the day go?” I have finally trained my mind to stop thinking about how far I get on my runs (it stresses me out) and instead I focus on how good the exercise makes my body feel. I’m “in the moment” instead of rushing ahead to my destination, and I’ve found that I enjoy running so much more when I think of it in this way.

    I also think that a lot of this “rushing” comes from putting things off until the last minute (at least it does for me). Not procrastinating can become a huge part of slowing down and alleviating stress, something I hope to accomplish this year as I head into my last year of my master’s program.

  25. I have always preferred the slow life. I am not a huge fan of technology – I could go for days and days without my iphone or using my computer. I prefer quiet time to enjoy the simple things, relaxing, reading a book, browsing at the farmers market. A lot of people think I am anti-social but I don’t need to be constantly running around or live on Facebook to be happy. Goes to show why I love life so much and those critizing me are always complaining about doing way too much!

  26. Thanks for another great thought-provoking read, Mark. I covered the same subject on my site last year. Taking time to savor life is exactly the prescription most of us need. Life is short and before you know it, over. As they say, no one on their deathbed ever wished they had spent more time at the office.

    http://passionforflavor.blogspot.com/2011/06/slow-food.html

    I love the idea of slow travel. Here’s a great article on the subject. You’ll (hopefully) never travel the same again!

    http://www.slowtraveleurope.eu/data/downloads/hiddeneurope_25_slowtravel.pdf

  27. Technology is just a complex tool, when we look at it this way , your laptop looks a lot more like an expertly shaped stone than an evil machine trying to suck out your soul.

  28. my kids are TV/Computer junkies. It got so bad, I decided to cut them off. However, I don’t want to completely take it away. Because of that, they are not allowed any screen time (anything computer, game, or TV related) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Saturdays. There are no exceptions. It has been fascinating watching how different their lives are M/W/F/S vs no TV days. When they can’t stare at a screen all day, they use they’re imaginations and my two children play together rather than in isolation. It also dramatically changes the way they play with our neighbors’ kids. On TV days they all sit around watching each other play video games. On other days, they’re outside inventing games.

  29. Awesome article! I have been meditating for 20mins every day for a week, after procrastinating for months because ” I didn’t have the time”. Let me tell you, the changes I have seen in me and the way I perceive the world are incredible. I enjoy and savor every min of my life. I feel connected with my loved ones and I am not talking about facebook connection. If you are really serious about slow living, give meditation a try.

  30. Great comments, just a question what it does to a marriage if one partner subscribes to a slow lifestyle and the other one doesn’t get it?

  31. This post is so resonating with me right now. I agree with every single word. Let’s take it easy…

  32. I’ve enjoyed book recommendations from Mark’s Daily Apple. I just reserved Carl Honore’s book at the library!

  33. It seem ironic that this post would show up today. Today, on my morning walk with the dogs a neighbor asked if I’d been watching the Olympics. When I replied that I had not, he said (in a disbelieving voice) “not any of it?”. Nope. Then I got a look like I had three green heads. Honestly, I have more relaxing things to do than sit in front of a television set. Not that I don’t ever watch it, I do, but it’s limited. Also, I’m much, much happier since unplugging from the daily corporate world and running a business on my own – I don’t make as much money (yet) but I’m not a crazy-stress-ball every day either. Love the article Mark….

  34. This is a very important topic, possibly the most important primal topic.
    I am glad that some comments address the central issue – slave labor and and constant insecurity (fear of losing one’s job, housing and health care, for example) prevent many from having civilized life. There are serious societal problems and they should be addressed.

  35. Welcome to the world of hand made…slow cooking and easy slow strength made from RAW SLOW GROWN power ….not HURRY UP And lower your TIME.
    I live in a way slower world than most…Barefoot slow is what I call it..
    smell the ROSES…and take a NAP… dont gobble 5hour SPEED… spend Sunday Afternoon in bed with someone..eat a nice casual dinner..UN TUCK YOUR TAIL And get off the RAT RACE COURSE..AND GROK ALWAYS>>

  36. There is a time and a place for everything. Knowing when to take advantage of the opportunity to live slow is your first step. I’m not great but I’m getting better – my first step was leaving my desk for lunch and going out into the sunlight. The next step during my lunch was going to a location that had natural beauty – there are parks near corporate america. Then I turned off my blackberry for that lunch hour and that was true slow freedom. Since then I look for every opportunity to go slow and I take it every single time I can get it! It gets easier if you pay attention.

    1. well said shannon. my initial thought that recurred when i read the article was…”damn, i wish i had a job that allowed for any sense of taking my time” but i like your perspective. i don’t have any trouble slowing down away from work. even since i practically had the blackberry and laptop physically attached to me i made a concious effort to limit their use except in emergencies or when traveling. i just should NOT have to be on them all hours!

      maybe i’ll take my lunch at the park tomorrow 🙂

  37. I started to slowly unplug myself from the TV about 3 years ago. I used to DVR all of my shows and they would sit on the harddrive because I didn’t have time to watch them. Well, I don’t DVR that many shows now, just the ones I want to watch, maybe 3 shows. I also quilt in my spare time. I’ve quilted since 1991 and love the slow process of creating something of beauty that is unique. But you have to make time for your hobbies and Sunday afternoon is MY time. Sometimes I read a new quilting book or magazine instead of sewing but the point is, the time is mine. Life is so much better in the slow lane.

  38. To be challenged without being overwhelmed, to be refreshed without being stagnant. Beautifully written.

  39. This is one of your best posts, I think, and I would like to see more like it. It helps that I am a big fan of slow living and have been for some time. However, I too get caught up in the frantic pace of the life of the world around me (work, traffic, consumerism), and this was a timely reminder of what really is important. To me, living Primally is living slowly and simply. I like it when you write lifestyle articles that border on (or leave room for) the spiritual. Very good topic today!!

  40. About 9 months ago I gave up watching and reading news. All of it. Every time I get a glimpse its all the same stuff anyway. Murder, mayhem, destruction and financial devastation, today as it was 9 months ago. So really I didn’t miss a thing except I gained by reducing my stress levels.

  41. Wow, great article Mark. I have been working on a slower living style for a while now, and this really brought up some good ideas for new challenges!

  42. Guess I shouldn’t have done my PBF sprints today! 😉

    I love being a stay at home mom to a 3 yr old and 4 month old. Every day I get to decide what we will do and it’s usually not rushed. I believe God was brilliant when he designed a nursing mom to have oxytocin coarse through her body as she nurses to slow down and zone out with the baby! Love it.

    1. I felt the same way when I was nursing- relaxed, enjoying my day, no schedules. But once i weaned ( weaned 3 years ago) I began experiencing much more stress, anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed- I think my body was hooked on that oxytocin (nursed 2 kids for 2 years each) and I wish I had that stress deliver back!

  43. I WORK in the film business. I enjoy the work and it has afforded me my apartment (home), grass-fed beef and my slow-burn gym that has changed my LIFE!!!
    I stop when I don’t work, but when I do work…12-16 hour days (if I’m lucky), 10 hours between shifts (not including commute) and go go GO during the shift. I don’t actually have tv, but I will tell you this – eating my primal meal in the morning – and NOT eating quickly during the day ’cause I don’t have to (YAY fat-burning!!!), is a way to combat others trying to take away the slow joy!

  44. I usually sneak a speed-read of MDA when my toddlers not looking. But he’s playing with a (toy) motorbike in the kitchen so I found myself reading slower…
    slower…

    slowly enjoying this hit..

    Nice.

  45. This is definitely something I’ve been trying harder to implement in my life. I’ve let stress get to me to the point that I’ve spent most of this year suffering from insomnia. It took a while for me to accept that not being able to shut off at night and waking up too early was being caused by stress alone.
    I’ve been able to practice this the most with my toddler. Now, when we go places, I just follow her – stop where she stops, look at what she looks at, invite her to investigate things further – and by doing this, I’m getting to experience the art of learning all over again. It is amazing to see a little kid absorb the world and definitely worth slowing down for.

  46. It’s funny, I was just told the other day that my movements are always slow and calculated, like those of an old man. I of course replied that I can move quickly if I wish to.

    I simply dislike being rushed.

  47. 10 years ago, I was on the verge of a complete mental and physical breakdown. My commute was over 2 hours a day, I worked for mean people in a windowless office for 12 hours a day serving even more mean people (I was a food stamp/welfare case worker). Death threats were common. When I quit, it felt great to slow down and enjoy life. The best thing I did was to dump all the mean people from my life. I especially don’t listen to all the nastiness and negativity on the tv or radio. I don’t have a tv and I’m a bog fan of book radio. Life is good.

  48. I only had time to speed read this post so I hope I didn’t miss anything.

    Anyway, for everyone who’s taking it slowly today, here’s an interesting article by a blogger who comparing T. Colin Campbell and Mark, I think, but without naming any names. Did I call that right, do you think?
    —————
    That really skinny old scientist dude says anything from an animal will give you cancer. But a super-ripped 60 year old with a best-selling diet book says eat more butter with your crispy T-Bone and you’ll be just fine as long as you stay away from grains. Great abs beat out the PhD so you end up hanging out on a forum where everyone eats green apples and red meat and talks about how functional and badass parkour is.
    —————
    For people who are taking it slow today and have time to read the whole thing. . .
    http://grist.org/list/the-best-rant-about-healthy-eating-that-you-will-ever-read/

    Cheers.

  49. I agree 100% with the idea of unplugging once in a while to enjoy life.

    Three weeks ago I had nothing to do on a Sunday (very rare) so I decided to turn off my phone, go for a walk around this park by my house, and do some yoga while there. I’ll tell you I woke up on Monday feeling the most refreshed that I have in months.

    Society as a whole could definitely benefit if people took the time once in a while to stop and enjoy the simple things in life.

    Thanks Mark

  50. This post resonates deeply with me. Last year my family and I made a choice to live slowly. We sold many of our belongings, rented our house, and hit the road in an RV. We’ve been traveling for almost a year and life has never felt more full. We eat three meals together a day, go on hikes, enjoy exercising outdoors, spend afternoons cuddled on the couch reading, (me and the kids…hubby works), leisurely explore new places, and generally enjoy a life with very few commitments. The trick will be taking what I’m learning living slowly with me when (or if) we return to a traditional life.

  51. I would add the suggestion however that if you do plan ahead well you can be slower. Some people live so much in the moment they are in constant stress as to how to pay the bills and there are no meals ready for the children and the kitchen floor never gets cleaned.

    “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin” – people may remember that biblical line.. but I always thought well lucky them – someone is feeding them.

    I like slow so much I bought my own island where it is so simple and slow of course but I am happy and fast and hard working. I deliberately cut out stresses I don’t like now I am secure enough to be able to do that, but some people are retired and stressed over whether to wear their slippers or shoes to the local shop for their highlight of the day -0 buying the newspapers whilst some of us run complex businesses and do not feel stress.

    Although people say busy people at the top have most stress most studies in the UK show it is the blue collar workers without any power whose boss tells them what to do at the drop of a hat who have the most psychiatric illnesses relating to stress (most of my family are psychiatrists so we chat about that kind of thing a lot).

    So yes, cut stress where you can or work out why something is stressing you. If you have a new baby who wakes every 2/3 hours night and day to feed and screams without a reason (many of them do) you will be stressed and tired and if you do not respond to the cries the baby suffers – therefore in a sense the stress has purpose.

    On “slow” most weekends I do not do a single planned thing. My chidlren this summer holiday have virtually nothing planned at all whereas children in some countries like many in the US will be away at summer camps and all kinds of planned courses. I like the doing nothing so you use your imagination to fill the time school.

    1. Although people say busy people at the top have most stress most studies in the UK show it is the blue collar workers without any power whose boss tells them what to do at the drop of a hat who have the most psychiatric illnesses relating to stress (most of my family are psychiatrists so we chat about that kind of thing a lot).

      And you need to be a psychiatrist to know that? I would think that intelligence would be more helpful. The same intelligence would also suggest giving a SOCIETY ( a concept unknown to psychiatrists) a different advice than “Just slow down if you can.”
      Why don’t you advice people to buy their own islands, continents, planets?
      OK, people, I have a solution – go and buy an island and a mansion and stop working of course. Problem solved.

      1. People need to be inspired. The best things about my life are my health and happiness and children, not that I am successful at work (and islands really do not cost anything ilke what many apartments do in London or New York).

        Women can be inspired to know if they work hard or smart they can buy islands or even just buy time not doing chores or even time not to work as well also learning that you don’t have to work at all – indeed in the UK you need never work as we have a social benefits system which means you can choose never to work and the state will support you. We are one of the best countries to work totally slowly and 4 in 5 women earn less than their husbands. In some ways you could argue women using their erotic power have learned how to “go slow” as they live off the earnings of a man. Anyway I’m probably being too political so I’ll shut up.

  52. When I was just a young lad (back in the’50’s, the insurance companies were betting I would live to age 70. I am now 74. Now I look at the past year as a bonus.
    You have to have a positive outlook on life. Once I turned 70 my whole outlook changed. SLOW DOWN live life one day at a time.Enjoy.
    Living in NJ,my wife, neighbors, and I go to the shore(beach) on Wed and swim in the ocean, very invigorating!
    On Thur. we go to a lake in “the pines”
    once we turn off the main road it is so peaceful! nothing but trees.
    Another thing I like to do, when I am in Crisfield, MD, is paddle my kayak out to Tangier Sound, stop, listen to the wind, and the sounds of silence.

    1. Your outlook changed at 70 and it’s positive. That’s nice.
      Why don’t you check what kind of society you’ve created? I am sure that your advice to have positive attitude and slow down offered to those who in the 20s have three jobs (each paying minimal wage – no health insurance), commute 4 hours a day, live 5 in a tiny apartment, have insane college debts and NO chance of living normal (let alone slow) life is invaluable.

      1. Are you describing your life now? If so, hope things get less hectic.

  53. Once again, this is the most important primal topic and think we shouldn’t allow the most privileged among us to define it (oh, I live on my island, my servants bring me morning poached eggs to the beach etc.) in order not so much to prevent perception of being elitist, but primarily to prevent further barbarization of society.

  54. I just finished reading a Slow Living blog for the first time. My own personal philosophy has moved markedly in this direction over the last couple years, though I hadn’t thought to put a label on it or realize that it’s a nascent movement.

    Thank you for posting this article. It’s nice to know there is a community of like-minded people from whom I can glean ideas on how to further improve my quality of life.

  55. This blog was so timely. Recently, I started allowing myself to get caught up in the speed of life. Things were moving a million miles an hour in my mind and I was afraid to slow down because, in my mind, I just “had so much to do.” Its time to sit down and, as the author Tim Ferriss commonly states, “focus on the critical few instead of the trivial many.” Thanks Mark for this helpful reminder!

  56. My favorite vacation spot is back home in Colombia. I wake up to a view of the mountains, TV is not a big part of everyday life, walking to places is routine, cell phones are not abundant. It’s a slower pace culture that favors human interaction over multitasking. Time passes slowly and peacefully. After every visit, it takes me two weeks to readjust to the chaos of my life here.

  57. I think Ferris Bueller said it best. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

  58. I was just discussing this, this morning as I’m visiting family down in Georgia, while I’m from around Boston. Life is so different down here, and although it seems like a stereotype I actually really do notice it. Maybe its the heat, but people move a lot more slowly 😉 I definitely like it though, its making me less stressed and more happy.

  59. Like so many things primal, this resonates with me tremendously. I have been realizing this myself for some time. I have adopted reading by candlelight in my bedroom to wind down before sleep on some evenings. It is incredibly relaxing. I wish that the 40-hour workweek would disappear in favor of a 3 or 4-day workweek, no more than 8 hours per day including the drive. How sweet that would be!

  60. I just resigned from my job as a nurse in a level 1 trauma center. I transfer in 2 weeks to a small community ER. It is known for its slow pace and I seriously worried I would be bored. This could not be a more timely piece for me to read. At my current job, I know daily I don’t give really good care, everything is rushed, always. I am looking forward to being able to have a conversation with my patients again, soon.

  61. I calmed down just reading this article

    Just reprint the same article weekly so I can get regular reminders!

  62. Slow living sounds like the perfect pace of life. It would be a lovely change to our frenetic need for the next new thing. I wonder if there will come a point in our future where we’ll find that balance again?

  63. Thank-you for this blog. It’s the best. You articulate thoughts and feelings that I have re: this issue. I had 2 reactions when I read it — gratitude that you had written it, and “who can I send it to”. I sent it to my sister who is like-minded and she had the same 2 reactions. We thought it useless to send it to people we thought could use it since they would be too busy to read it. I am so happy to hear that there is a slow living movement — that there actually are other people out there who see the negative repurcussions in the way our world is going. Even if we have to work 9-5 there are ways to work “slowly”. I would love to be able to open a little restaurant called “the slow living cafe” and the tag line would be “if you are in a hurry, don’t come here!” Thanks again for putting these thoughts down on your blog.

  64. Stress and cortisol are two issues that I struggle with. Any thoughts on the best way to track whether these two issues could be causing health issues or otherwise preventing me from improving myself further? I know that blood tests are a possibility, but any quick checks that might provide more immediate feedback? (e.g., blood pressure, blood sugar testing, etc.)

    Thanks, Mark!

  65. Today I lived slowly. I’m one of those people who can get caught up in accomplishing a mile long list or I don’t feel good about my day. I caught myself this morning getting worked up and just stopped- here’s what I did today instead of those million other things:
    Went to our farmer and picked up our meat and eggs for the next couple weeks.

    Talked to his wife while our kids played.

    Went for a swim with my mother and son.

    Went shopping for an hour and ate a nice dinner.

    Went to my aunts farm to walk and play with my son. Read a book on the porch while he played some more. Showed him around the barn. Decided we should spend the night at the farm, while dad had a night with his buds. Read some more. Played cards. Watched part of a movie with son. Put him to bed and read some more.

    Tomorrow when we wake up we are going to exercise in the yard together.

    Drink coffee on the porch while dad sleeps in.

    Return home.

    It’s been fabulous.

  66. Ive been practicing and working at perfecting this for 3 years now and just wrote a short piece on my blog about it yesterday. I really feel I own my life again!

  67. There was once an American traveler who planned a safari to Africa. He was that typical Type-A American tourist, who many of us may be and who I admittedly am when I travel. We do our research about this travel destination and we have a timetable, maps, and a clear agenda of the things we need to see and do. Some local people had even been hired to carry some of the traveler’s supplies as they trekked throughout the land—it was that level of planning.On the first morning, they all woke up early and traveled fast and covered a great distance. The second morning was the same—woke up early, traveled fast, and traveled far. Third morning, same thing. But on the fourth morning, the local hired help refused to move. Instead, they sat by a tree in the shade well into the morning. The American traveler became incensed and irate and said to his translator, “This is a waste of valuable time. Can someone tell me what’s going on here?” The translator looked at him and calmly answered, “They’re waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.”

    (Terry Hershey, Sacred Necessities: Gifts for Living with Passion, Purpose, and Grace, 68-69.)

  68. I think slower living is also more conducive to better mental activities. Years ago, I used to live alone. While my work was pretty hectic (I worked for a food service), but it was bearable as I was pretty much free once I clocked out. Outside work, I had minimal commitments, which allowed me to pretty much do whatever I wanted. At home, I had no computer (too expensive, relative to my income), and TV reception was so bad that I did not bother with watching TV. So, I had to find other ways to entertain myself. I predominantly read books and worked on art projects. On hindsight, these were very good habits, but they required quite a bit of free and slow time.

  69. I deliberately try to stop and stare and not go out much as I know I need loads of time alone to be happy. Lots of cultures though, most of those in jungles etc and plenty in sophisticated countries cannot understand any need to aloneness, silence and privacy and are totally communal in life.

    I had considered decades ago not pursuing a career and just being self sufficient and I am very glad I did not. If you farm (our neolithic ancestors 9000 years ) then you labour from dawn to dusk (7th day ye rest etc) and it’s not an easier life at all. In fact it’s subsistence and pretty dire.

    If you hunt and forage (paleo ancestors 1.5 m years) you probably do sit around more (see various interviews with jungle tribes) and just help yourself to what you need as long as you have a tiny population and massive amount of land with abundant fish etc.

    There is a big issue in the UK of many people being very very slow as we have a cradle to grave social system and free healthcare for all so people like I am who work very hard are subsidising a lot who have chosen a very slow life indeed. That is a very political issue and on a micro level anyone who marries someone better off and then they do not work nor do housework is picking perhaps very sensibly slow living but in effect on the back of the efforts of others. One reason I can at times be “slow” is one of my older children works for me part time so they are doing the fast necessary things the household needs so I can be slow.

  70. I have no option but to take things slow-not from choice but from an arthritic hip for the last ten years.If anyone knows how to regenerate a hip joint let me know :)I think there is a difference from taking it slow voluntarily than forced to be slow and that makes it stressful. Perhaps I need to relook at it from this angle and enjoy it.

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  72. “Slow living is predominantly about the attention and intentionality we bring to the spheres of life.” Still a great post all these years later. Slow living is timeless!