Ever since I put the finishing touches on my book over a year ago, I have been thinking hard about how to walk the talk—how to live a mental health-optimizing life in a society so stacked against optimal well-being.
I have concluded that small tweaks are not sufficient. It requires radical change—and a lot of it is a change in mindset. In my book, I recommend that parents and teachers and other caring adults value children for who they are, not what they do. It’s a huge shift in how we think about others—and ourselves!
A materialistic culture teaches its members that their value depends on what they produce, achieve, or consume rather than on their human beingness. Many of us believe that we must continually prove and justify our worthiness, that we must keep having and doing to justify our existence. —Gabor Maté, YES! Magazine
What if we didn’t constantly have to prove our worthiness? How would this change how we live our lives? Would we say ‘yes!’ as often? Would we stuff our calendars and assume an aura of busyness?
I don’t think so.
Lately, I’ve been draw to the notion of slow living. Not boring living, but mindfully-aware living—participating in life, rather than watching it fly by.
For me, slow living means…
- reducing the number of to-dos each day,
- spacing out appointments to allow breathers in between,
- arranging my life around slow transportation (again!),
- going to the woods several times each week,
- finding time to sit quietly,
- eating simply and slowly,
- fostering local resilience,
- making space to read, knit, sing, play, dance,
- focusing on one social change issue (not several),
- using email and social media effectively (or maybe not at all!),
- being fully present with people I meet, and
- saying no sometimes.
There are so many problems to fix in our world—so many people to help. We need a new economic system, a new education system, a new health care system, a new paradigm around work and wages. We need to overturn Citizens United, make politics about the common good, and end corporate welfare.
(I could go on…)
How can we practice slow living when all of these issues are out there to be solved? This is my dilemma.
How can I justify slow living in the wake of global crisis?
Here’s where I’ve landed: I am responsible for my own health first and foremost. Slow living is designed to reduce stress and increase well-being. When I am well and have lots of energy, I am better able to help others and enact positive change.
Further, if I commit to slow living and refuse to get caught up in the busyness paradigm, I am also leading by doing. I have certainly been inspired by others to move in this direction. By practicing slow living, perhaps I can provide inspiration for others to make this shift!
I won’t lie. I have a lot on my plate. There are a lot of things I want to do. Challenging things. Good things. Fun things! I don’t think slow living and making a difference are mutually exclusive. In fact, I would argue that the people who accomplish the most do so because they do less—they focus.
I’m going to spend the last couple of weeks of this year developing a plan for slow living—for me. I invite you to do the same—for you. This is not a one-year stunt or resolution—it is a life change. The new year just happens to be a very good time to think about life and make changes.
I look forward to sharing my plan with you in the new year and hearing from you as well.
News and Events
- Guest post on Ideas and Creations: “Change when it seems impossible”
- Guest post on Mad in America: “We Are Failing Our Kids: A Few Remedies”
- Speaking at Westminster Presbyterian, Des Moines, IA on January 31, 2016.
Her Lost Year
I appreciate your support.