Producing versus Consuming: Active Slow Living

Thursday, June 11, 2020

I think we all just spent a few months experiencing slow living - a stark contrast to most of our lives before any sort of lock down order. People dealt with this in a lot of different ways. It may have started with Netflix binges and 24 hours of pajamas, but then morphed into something different. A lot of banana bread was made, that's for sure. A lot of homes decluttered. But I think that's a natural outcome of a slow living lifestyle. There's suddenly much more time in the day when you're not jamming your schedule with events, and people quickly realize that constant consumption is not all it's cracked up to be.


Because slow living doesn't mean sitting around doing absolutely nothing. When I share about this way of life, people always ask 'well what do you do all day?' Whatever I want, really, and that's the point. I may not be carefully scheduling all the hours in my day like I used to, but that 'lazy slug' feeling of three straight days of movies and take out isn't good either. I didn't drop one extreme for the other, I simply shifted my priorities so I can take the time every day to do the things I love. Life should happen for me, not to me. Or what I like to call 'active slow living.' And it's all about producing and doing instead of consuming.

Do you have a lot of unfinished projects around the house? That's often a sign of hiding behind consumption instead of taking action. I've been guilty of it too. We consume things first as an excuse, instead of becoming the person we want to be, telling ourselves that we absolutely need something in order to get started. We can't start working out without new workout clothes. We can't start decluttering and organizing without buying a bunch of new bins at the Container Store. Can't make that scrapbook without spending $200 on more supplies at the craft store. But it's pretty easy to see, in all of those excuses, that consuming things is distracting you from the life you really want to have.

We all have these projects that were started with good intentions but never finished and these things we 'don't have the time to do'. It's the trap of consuming instead of doing, and there's a lot of emotional baggage that comes with that. It's so easy to hide behind the laziness of consumption. No one likes taking responsibility for the fact that they're the only thing standing in their own way.

But why write off your joy in the present with this over attachment to more, more more? We all write off progress and the lives we're living now, thinking that we'll be a better version of ourselves once we buy this thing, but that just keeps removing ourselves from taking responsibility for actually taking action. You don't need Lululemon pants to workout. You just need to move. There's no need to keep consuming in order to become that better person.

So why would slow living help with any of that? How can I do more if I'm simultaneously slowing down?

Because what I'm really slowing down is distractions, allowing me to be pro-active. To seek out and do more of what matters, instead of just reacting to circumstances. It's a habit I've had to really learn and practice at constantly, but I find it's the best way to live in the present and enjoy each day. No more of that stressed and anxious feeling that comes with being hurried.

What does this look like, in a practical sense? Waking up early each day because I know I function best on a schedule and in the mornings. Cleaning the house daily, before it builds up and becomes incredibly dirty. Creating a budget and saving for big expenses, emergencies or vacations. Walking more and making my own meals instead of resorting to take out and fad diets. Making phone calls, mailing letters, unloading the dishwasher and completing other 5 minute tasks as I think of them instead of perpetually putting them off. Actively sorting out these tasks purposefully before they pile up to that insurmountable mountain of stress. Acting, not reacting. Doing, not just buying something to make the problems go away.

There's just something about doing each of these things by my own hand that helps me stay connected in the moment, no longer feeling like the days are disappearing too fast. And even though I do these thing slowly, I know they're still moving me forward. I fully enjoy the present while I take steps to be that slightly better version of myself that I have in mind. Always a work in progress - but not one that writes off all the progress that's already been made.