Often, in our journey toward living more simply, we can unintentionally stumble open the wisdom in living slowly.
This past Spring, our family started a small garden in our backyard. It had been on my list of things to do for a long time, and we were all so excited.
We picked out just the right kind of soil, my husband built the box, we took a special trip to purchase seedlings, and we spent the entire afternoon preparing the soil and carefully planting each seedling.
My daughter couldn’t believe that eventually these plants were going to be our food. Every morning we went out to water the garden together, and carefully watched as each plant began to take root and grow.
I will never forget the first day we found our first cucumber sprout — it was like Christmas morning. I was as excited as she was when we pulled our first harvest, and made a cucumber salad that evening with lemon juice, mint and black pepper.
The taste of that cucumber salad was like nothing I’d ever had. We had history with those cucumbers. We knew their story, and as they grew, we grew. We learned patience, and taking care of something diligently pays off over time.
I am so grateful for the wisdom that this garden gave me, and it made me wonder — how much else of life’s richness am I missing by moving too quickly?
So often in every area of life, I have a consumer mindset. What does this person have to offer, how can this experience benefit me, or what will this do for me?
I recently heard a quote that struck a deep chord in me: “only the amateurs hurry.” Living simply means accepting that slow can actually be the best option.
Our constant desire to have more, and have it more quickly, can sometimes rob us of joy in the present. When we see life for what it is, as a gift, it is easier to slow down and savor the moment.
Here are some ways that we can embrace simplicity by slowing down a little.
1. Identify areas where you are feeling rushed.
There are so any possibilities for feeling rushed, but it is often only a matter of shifting our perspective. Do you constantly have hectic mornings? Are you always feeling behind on specific projects?
Or are you constantly feeling rushed when you are spending time with friends or loved ones, as though you must get on to the next thing? Consider some of the areas where you need to release the pressure valve a bit.
2. Create margin in your life.
This isn’t always easy, but it is a must. Giving ourselves more space and time to do what matters is the most tangible result of creating margin. What might that look like? For some, it may be as simple as adding up how long it takes to get somewhere, and giving yourself an extra 15 minutes to get there.
You could also plan ahead and do a few extra tasks in advance so that when deadlines are looming, you aren’t sweating it. It also may involve saying “no” to more so you can spend more time with people you care about, and give them more than just the leftovers of your day.
Whatever this looks like, margin will never just happen. You must create it.
3. Embrace slowness in one area of your life.
Is there something you can do to intentionally slow yourself down? To focus on your value and worth as a human being? Maybe try a yoga class, or spend a specific amount of time in mindful breathing to simply be present.
You could take on a new hobby hat requires a more long-term investment of patience and daily nurturing. Or commit to having a one hour lunch or coffee with a friend who you haven’t seen in some time, and spend that time being truly there with that person, not thinking about what’s next on the to-do list.
4. Remember patience is a virtue.
When learning to slow down a bit, the most frustrating lesson can be learning to wait. But waiting builds our character, and keeps us from becoming demanding individuals who can’t understand why the world doesn’t instantly bow to our whims.
Life is going to deliver us some “waiting” seasons anyway, so why not learn this skill now? When we intentionally work to slow down, it seems counterintuitive.
You might even receive some flack from friends and family. But there is a season for everything, and some things just can’t be rushed. Embrace the wisdom of slow, and let us know where it takes you.