If you've been searching for a way to take a step back from the daily grind, this lifestyle approach is for you.

As technology has accelerated, so has the speed of life. Conversations, information, and news travels faster than ever before. People are expected to be connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week. "Hustle culture" has people working to the point of burnout. But the faster things become, the more we want to slow them down—and that's where slow living comes in. "I think of slow [living] as more of a mindset than anything else," says Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slowness: How A Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed ($24, amazon.com). "It's quality over quantity. It's doing things with presence, being in the moment. Ultimately, it's about doing everything as well as possible instead of as fast as possible."

women sitting on lake dock mountain view
Credit: Getty / Thomas Barwick

It may sound simple, "but it's actually a profoundly revolutionary [idea] in a roadrunner culture where every moment [in] a day is a race against the clock," says Honoré. But what, exactly, is slow living? And how you can slow down and embrace a slower pace of life? Ahead, Honoré breaks down the lifestyle that just might improve your relationship with, well, just about everything and everyone.

What is slow living?

The best way to describe slow living is to describe what it isn't—and that's slowing down to a snail's pace that doesn't make sense in today's fast-paced culture. "I think in our fast-forward culture, where the taboo against slowness runs so deep, we just assume that the only way to slow down is for everything to become incredibly slow motion, which would be absurd," says Honoré. Slow living isn't about shutting down—it's about stepping back strategically. "Slow living [is] about doing things at the right speed," says Honoré. "So, understanding that, sure, there are times to go fast and be busy—but there are other times when it pays to put the brakes on and slow down."

What are the cornerstones of living a slower lifestyle?

Slow living is about creating opportunities to disconnect, (literally) slow down, and be more present. Taking the first step towards this entails redefining your relationship with your phone, tablet, or other gadgets and making more room in your life for screen-free time. "A cornerstone of slow living is forging a more balanced, healthier, happier, and more humane relationship with our technology," says Honoré. "[It's] knowing when to go on and use that incredible thrilling speed of technology—and then knowing when enough is enough and to stop scrolling through Instagram or stop surfing the net while watching Netflix or just simply stop being in front of a screen."

Another key element of slow living is letting go of the fear of missing out—and instead of trying to do every single thing, honing in on the things that matter. "A cornerstone of being slow is saying no," says Honoré. "It's relearning the lost art of saying no, of prioritizing, of taking the time to pause, reflect, and look at your life and say, 'What is really important?' Then focus your time and attention on those things and let everything else go."

Why is slow living worth your time?

So many of us have attempted to integrate principles of slow living into our day-to-day, and that's because we're quickly hitting our capacity for our fast-paced lifestyles, something that's starting to take its toll, notes Honoré. "We are bumping up against the limits now of how much speed the human mind, body, and spirit can take, and I think we're paying a price across our lives to this 'go fast' or 'do everything at once' [attitude]," says Honoré. "Everything, from our health and diet to our relationships, families, communities, and schools, [is suffering] and it's also hurting our ability to think, link, innovate, create work, be productive, and be creative."

The slow living movement resonates with so many because people are sick of fast-forwarding through their lives—and the consequences that go along with that lifestyle. "We're racing through our lives instead of actually living them," says Honoré. "Turning every moment of the day into a dash takes a toll, and it's hurting us in so many ways."

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
January 13, 2020
So I click on the article, and a window pops up asking me if I want to be tracked by this website. (No!) Then an ad starts automatically playing. (I don't know what for, but I'm not buying whatever it is.) So I want to post a comment and your site demands a password and an uncheck of at least half a dozen potential sources of unwanted e-mail. I do that and - guess what - another ad pops up automatically. And all over you website are static ads for stuff I don't want whose makers will probably now be tracking me. My conclusion: you may advocate "slow living" or whatever buzzword means "being here now" (Ram Dass beat you to it decades ago), but the website is the same old sensory overload.