This November, I’m challenging myself to write every day. You can read them all under the “Shorts” category, where each post should be around 500–1k words. Think of them as “less polished” than my usual longer blog posts. This is Day 25.
"Work hard, play hard" sounds like a good deal. You put in the long hours at work in exchange for an equal amount of leisure time. In reality, we only see "work hard, work even harder" in the workforce. Where is the play? What happened to taking a break?
I'm sure we're familiar with the phrase "rise and grind" — we wake up, check our emails, go to work, sleep, and repeat. The grind never stops, as they say. We're constantly on edge, working day after the day with only some hours left to "relax" at home before going to bed. It's crazy how the hustle culture has become normalised, and how people's lives revolve around work when it should be revolving around life. I'm not against working hard, but the lengths to which some people go without enough rest and burn out are harmful in the long run.
Enter slow living. Slow living first began from a slow food movement to promote traditional food production as opposed to fast food in the late 20th century. Fast forward to the present, people are slowly embracing slow living in response to the hustle and bustle that we've become accustomed to. As Wikipedia put it, slow living "refers to a lifestyle that encourages a slower approach to aspects of everyday life." Slow living is slowing down to be more present and mindful in what we do. It's about being aware of your actions, making deliberate decisions that are not acted on impulse.
What slow living doesn't mean is a lack of ambition; it's simply recognising that faster doesn't always mean better and rest is equally as important as work. It also doesn't imply doing things in slow motion; rather, it's doing things with more intention. You can always slow down to appreciate the things around you, such as eating. That's being mindful of the taste and texture of your food as you chew, and how it makes you feel. Slow living is most certainly not anti-technology or going back in time. Ultimately, technology is a tool that can make our lives more convenient when used wisely and intentionally.
So, how can we slowly embrace slow living?
We can start by rethinking our relationship with work. Is being "busy" a badge of honour? Do you feel guilty when you take a break or when you're not doing anything that isn't work? You're most probably tying your self-worth to your productivity and achievements. It's okay to be busy, but make sure you're doing the work for the right reasons and that it's not for the sake of the "hustling". It's not easy to unlearn the hustle culture that has been ingrained in us, but the first step is to acknowledge it and slowly learn to unlearn this toxic trait.
Being conscious of your actions and what you consume is a big part of slow living too. For example, mindless scrolling through social media is not conscious and is heavy on media consumption that we don't need. If this is you, you can try to balance your consumption by putting time-blocks and think about why you consume — is it aligned with your goals? If not, try to consume with the right intent. Be truthful to yourself in a non-judgemental way.
Ultimately, slow living is about taking the time to appreciate your surroundings with intention. It's taking your time to take care of yourself. If you're concerned about your productivity, remember that giving yourself a well-deserved break after a long day is also productive. Don't give into the hustle culture.