We’ve worked on downshifting to slow living and greater well-being with our move to Kauai. After a year of busy preparing for the move, we landed, did what we needed to do to get established, and now we’re downshifting again, giving ourselves a lot of breathing space. This, too, was part of the plan. We’ve deferred travel until further notice in order to fully experience our new home and further enhance this incredible sense of well-being. There is so much peace and beauty here; we knew we needed at least several months to soak it all up without the distraction of going somewhere else.
It’s great when a plan for better well-being comes together. Slow living happens more easily when the pace of your new, relocated place is such a great match for downshifting. Living more slowly and deliberately, being present in the moment, is a huge part of life on Kauai. The opportunity to adjust your life sails and drink in positive energy surrounded by a breathtaking natural environment is big, a draw for locals as well as vacationers.
Living more slowly is an expectation most Kauai residents incorporate into their lifestyle. “It’s the island way” or “island time” aren’t excuses, they’re reasons. If you can’t see downshifting toward living more slowly here during a longer term, you’re in pretty deep. Most visitors barely shed what awaits them back on the mainland during their time on Kauai. We instinctively knew this environment could be an ally in scaling back mentally, after we’d scaled back on our stuff.
Maxwell Tileman, writing at Design Sponge, is doing a mainland version of slow living:
Over the past year or so, I have been trying, to the best of my ability, to live “slow.” While living slowly doesn’t necessarily mean halting one’s motions or moving at a snail’s pace, it does mean taking time away from the deleterious modern-day practice of Me-Want-It-Now.
The benefits of slow living are based in an overall “less is more” philosophy. Modern life is comprised of a constant barrage of inputs. Downshifting from overwhelm toward better well-being is first a matter of subtraction, getting rid of to get more. Create the Good Life explains how the process starts: “Living more slowly begins with becoming more aware of what is positively and negatively impacting the quality of our lives.”
For some, these discoveries will lead to a lengthy downshifting process before slow living can be implemented. Simplify Your Life recommends a 4-step adjustment process described as “Closing the Open Loops” :
- Remove everything that annoys you.
- Remove things with bad/negative vibes or bad/sad memories.
- Get rid of stuff that you didn’t use in the past year.
- Fix the small things that you “didn’t have time to do.” Do it yourself, or hire someone to do it.
Reducing numbers of things, and fixing those which are broken will decrease typical distractions that keep us from living more slowly. Closing the loops allows your thought patterns to circle back to the core of your well-being.
The restorative effects of slow living are manifesting here in Kauai:
- Pete is back to a pastime he missed: gardening. With a 365 day growing season, there’s no seasonally-based rush to chores. Instead, gardening rewards on a short and long-term continuum.
- Daily life enables present attention. Washing dishes by hand and hanging clothes on the line are sensory opportunities: breezes rustle through branches, the window’s view is of greenery, there’s a backdrop of river and birdsong.
- Our radius is smaller. On an island that is less than 600 square miles, we mostly stay within the ten mile stretch of Hwy 560 along Kauai’s North Shore, as many of our neighbors do. With simpler needs, we venture farther less frequently.
- We’re getting great sleep, up and down with the sun. Research shows good sleep has rampant effects on health and productivity.
- Things are just better. We eat better – fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, feel better – rested and healthy, and work better – fewer distractions, better productivity.
We knew living more slowly on Kauai was going to be a good thing, but just how great things were going to turn out was anyone’s guess. Now that we’ve experienced such a high level of satisfaction, we’re even more inspired to continue with a simplified lifestyle. Living more slowly gives us more of each present moment, while prolonging and enriching the overall experience we hoped for.
Of course, one doesn’t have to move to Kauai to do all this. What is most positively and negatively impacting the quality of your life? What changes could you implement to “close the open loops?”