• Keshia Sophia

Slow Living: The Cure for Millennial Life Crisis

Did you know that the first millennials are turning 40 this year?

Across the globe fellow sufferers of early-onset nostalgia are reaching middle age. Despite all our speed and high-powered living, there was no outrunning the inevitable. But as the first brave 80's children fly past the 40th line with gusto, there are many who embrace the midlife beckoning on the horizon.

The Millennial Life Crisis

Midlife suggests a slowing down. Millennials are swerving into the slower lane as Generation Z hurdle past in flurry of impatient beeps. Our high-waist jeans are worn, side-partings are impractical and our noughties metal revolution has been demoted to dad rock. Our 90’s nostalgia is officially vintage. Think a little less pop culture and a little more De-pop.

Millennials exist on a teetering line between Gen X and Gen Z. We are both sensitive snowflakes with little ambition and inappropriate products of capitalist culture that must be cancelled at all costs. We are disenchanted, unmotivated and riddled with imposter syndrome.

The truth is keeping up with trends is exhausting, dangerous, and one-way ticket to burn-out.

We know. We’ve lived it.

But we are not heading out for pasture just yet. Millennials may be the poster-generation for anxiety in perpetual search of healthy boundaries. But we are also a generation of entrepreneurs, digital nomads, and side-hustlers.

We are foodies, pet lovers and long-term renters. And say what you will about us, we are incredibly quick to self-reflect and readjust our behaviours.

If Gen X is the generation of responsibility and Gen Z the generation of accountability, consider Millennials the generation of adaptability.

Diets, trends, climate change, financial fallout – no matter the season, Millennials will dress accordingly. So, it stands to reason that while the world is at a stand-still from a global pandemic, Millennials would be the first to adapt to a Slow Living philosophy.

Slow Living: Not Just a Hashtag

Slow living is not just tousled white bed sheets and strategically placed coffee mugs on books. It is a philosophy born from a disenchantment with modern living that favours a more simplistic and sustainable approach to life. Think consuming less, savouring more, and slowing down.

The principal idea being that faster and convenient doesn’t necessarily mean better.

Slow living is arguably most closely aligned with the Danish philosophy of Hygge. But while Slow living certainly does promote the same prioritising of contentment and well-being as Hygge, its origins are found in the Slow Food movement.

Started by Carlo Petrini in Italy, Slow Food is a grassroots organization hell-bent on defending food culture, culinary traditions, and gastronomic pleasure against fast living. Sparked by McDonald’s decision in 1986 to open a branch in Rome, Slow Food became an antithesis to fast-paced living. A resounding no to convenience, globalisation, and the fracturing of the dinner table.

The Appeal of Slow Food

Slow Food is not simply a matter of nutrition. It is the preservation of local food culture and a return to the pleasure of eating.

Slow Food’s core tenants are ‘Good, Clean, and Fair’ – food which is good to eat, environmentally friendly, and produced in socially sustainable ways. It is a movement which favours our body and soul, not what lines our pockets.

Slow living naturally emerges as a by-product of the Slow Food’s rejection of a life reduced to capitalist consumption. The appeal to the millennial generation is clear. As Carl Honore explains:

“Fast is busy, controlling, aggressive, hurried, analytical, stressed, superficial, impatient, active, quantity-over-quality. Slow is the opposite: calm, careful, receptive, still, intuitive, unhurried, patient, reflective, quality-over-quantity. It is about making real and meaningful connections – with people, culture, work, food, everything.”

For a generation marred by disenchantment with the world and a biting sense of unfulfillment, a Slow Living approach that prioritises wellbeing over achievement is a logical next step.

Adjusting to a Slow Living

Slow Living is not a matter of doing everything with the reflexes of a sloth. It’s about finding the right speed that allows you the time to do things properly with thought.

The intention is to snap you out of the formulaic thinking that pervades capitalist mentality and reconnect to yourself.

Adjusting to Slow Living means taking the time to think about how to best nourish yourself. It involves identifying the type of pleasures that are most important to you, and asking what kind of world do you wish to live in.

Rather than count the minutes in a day, Slow Living asks that you savour them.

The Benefits to Slow Living

For those of us reaching the midlife yard line, a Slow Living approach to life may just be the cure to what ails us. For the first time in our adult lives, society is functioning in our favour. Yes, careers are on hiatus and capitalism is on the fritz, but this only means there is finally time to check out and check in.

Slow Living has no patience for trends and no space for thoughtless action. It demands you move through life with feeling and with care for your environment, your culture, and other living beings.

Above all it calls our devotion to speed into question and prompts us to engage more intensely with our world.

If you are exhausted, anxious, unfulfilled, feeling behind or hopelessly lost, perhaps a philosophy that invigorates you with the ability to control the rhythm of your life is exactly what the doctor order.

You won’t know unless you try.