Second Half of Life,  Slow - 2023,  Word of the Year

6 things I learned about going slower 

When I slow down, I can dive deeper—and that’s how I prefer to live. — Cait Flanders 

In 2023 my word for the year was SLOW. If you’re new to my blog, you can catch up with the posts throughout the year about my journey here

To summarise what I learned before I share a few of my favourite quotes collected throughout the year, here are a few takeaways that have found permanent homes in my mind: 

  • Slowness and softness let me see which way the flow is going and allow me to follow with curiosity. 
  • Slowness is an ongoing, lifelong process, constantly trimming and adjusting as life changes and swirls around us. I don’t have to have it all figured out at the start of the game. 
  • Slow living is about simplifying life so that we can have a Life — note the capitalisation. 
  • There is an uncomplicated way to figure out the right speed to attack things:  
    Reason + context + outcome = correct time and effort to give (i.e. fast, slow, or somewhere in between)  
    You can read in more detail in my previous post
  • A slow approach to life does not mean that I am lazy nor that I lack discipline. In fact, it requires more discipline, if anything. 
  • I can make room to allow for slowness by creating habits and systems and editing out the things that no longer serve me. Repetition creates ease, and ease allows for speed and smoothness in the things that can or need to be done that way. This frees up time to let other things progress more slowly. 

Slow living is, above all, an act of self-preservation and self-compassion. 

If you wish to slow down and are looking for some more practical suggestions, Courtney Carver provides a fantastic list to kick-start the process: How To Slow Down: 97 Ways To Enjoy Your Life This Year – Be More with Less 

Here are a few of my favourite quotes from this year:

On FOMO and love 

If it is right, it happens – The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away. – John Steinbeck — Steinbeck: A Life in Letters 

On Focus and Presence 

Slow living is about intention, spending more time on things that are important and less on things that aren’t. — Brooke McAlary — Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World 

We can make our minds so like still water… and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer, life because of our quiet. — William Butler Yeats — The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore, 1893 

On quality of life 

Fast is busy, controlling… impatient… quantity-over-quality. Slow is the opposite: calm… reflective, quality-over-quantity. – Carl Honore — In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed 

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast — you also miss the sense of where you are going and why. — Eddie Cantor 

In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. — Pico Iyer – The Art of Stillness 

And above all… 

Slowing down reminds you that the journey is supposed to be fun. — Anne Bancroft 

And so, we come to the WHY of slowing down the pace of life. I’ll let Mary Oliver lay it out in her poem, The Summer Day. Emphasis mine.

Who made the world? 
Who made the swan, and the black bear? 
Who made the grasshopper? 
This grasshopper, I mean— 
the one who has flung herself out of the grass, 
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, 
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down— 
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. 
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. 
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. 
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is. 
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down 
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, 
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, 
which is what I have been doing all day. 
Tell me, what else should I have done? 
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? 
Tell me, what is it you plan to do 
with your one wild and precious life? 

Slowness makes space for us to pay attention and understand what it is we wish to do with this fleeting moment in time we have on this planet. We are less than a blip on the radar in the grand scale of time. Don’t waste it by going so fast that you cannot live and love.  

Do less. Be still. Sit in silence…only then can you hear the words of love. Soft. Kind. Compassionate. Loving. 

Header photo: Austin Schmid on Unsplash 

Snail photo: Olivier Piau on Unsplash 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.