Our American culture is all about faster, quicker and having whatever we need doing, done. Although the warning signs are everywhere we don’t seem to heed them. We work more hours than Europeans; most of us don’t take our hard-earned vacation time every year; Americans are sleeping less than we did 100 years ago and as a result we are losing touch with our families, friends, our communities and ourselves. But there’s hope in the form of a book called, "In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed", by Canadian journalist Carl Honore.
Honore says he wants to find a balance between fast and slow, not eliminate speed altogether. In Praise Of Slowness is the first comprehensive look at the worldwide Slow movements making their way into the mainstream — in offices, factories, neighborhoods, kitchens, hospitals, concert halls, bedrooms, gyms, and schools.
The book, now in its ninth printing, is striking a chord worldwide with its simple but far-reaching suggestions. The concepts are straightforward and the writing is easy, well researched and is a mix of reportage, intellectual inquiry tempered with a dose of humor. It will serve to improve people’s lives by showing them how others are re-establishing our relationship to speed and time.
Chapters cover the familiar, including the Slow Food Movement. “A Slow dish can be quick and simple…Another way round the time crunch is to cook more than you need when you can and freeze the surplus.” Other explorations revolve around the late 80s movement of New Urbanism with its walkable neighborhoods, public spaces and mixed income housing allowing for community to thrive. The importance of leisure expressed through the “new yoga”—knitting, where “Knitting is one way of taking time to appreciate life, to find that meaning and make those connections.”
While this all might sound esoteric the book is well grounded and full of common sense. This slow lifestyle revolution is about quality beating out quantity. In the end a slower, more relaxed approach to life is about balance between fast and slow. Sometimes we all need a little reminding and this book will bring inspiration toward that goal.
I’m learning to slow down but it’s not easy. Tomorrow my life examined via my wrap up of the month long Eat Local Food challenge.
Here are tips from Carl Honore, author of "In Praise of Slowness," to help you decelerate:
Leave entire time slots unbooked in your schedule rather than filling up every moment with activity. Easing the pressure on your time helps you slow down.
Set aside a time of day to turn off all electronics that keeps us connected—literally unplugged– phones, computers, pagers, e-mail, television, and radio. Sit quietly somewhere, alone with your thoughts.
Make time for at least one hobby that slows you down, such as knitting, reading, painting, gardening or yoga.
Taste and savor dinner at the kitchen table instead of balancing it on your lap it in front of the TV.
Keep checking in on your “speed.” If you’re doing something more quickly than you need to, take a deep breath and slow down