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Dive 53: What is Slow Living? And why you need it.
Hey, it’s Alvin!
It’s been one year since I started this newsletter. Together, we dove into 52 topics in 52 weeks.
Thank you so much for your support.
To celebrate the first anniversary of Below the Surface, I buried a secret in this Dive.
I started Below the Surface because I grew tired of shallow social media posts devoid of substance. It was depressing. But I was hopeful I could connect with like-minded readers like you who craved something deeper and more meaningful. Together, we’d slow down, just a bit, to extract valuable life lessons glossed over by those who speed through life.
What I didn’t realize was that I was practicing a life philosophy this whole time. It’s called:
Slow Living is not anti-speed. It’s not about slowing everything down to a crawl.
Slow Living is about not rushing through life. It’s about slowing down enough to smell the roses.
I feel like we live in a time when there is a lack of philosophers, or at least, those who like to reflect on life.
David Hume was 28 when he completed A Treatise of Human Nature.
Arthur Schopenhauer was 25 when he published On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason.
Bertrand Russell was 33 when he published On Denoting.
Where are the 20 to 30-year-old philosophers of today? When I search on social media, it seems most people turn to philosophers who are long gone. Why can’t we think for ourselves?
Maybe we can’t.
Maybe we can’t because reflecting on life means slowing down. Looking at anything from all angles takes time. Meanwhile, the modern world demands we move faster. But everything we do has a max speed. Beyond that, speed costs us more than it benefits.
The Cost of Speed
The cost of speed can be seen everywhere.
Excessive speed causes panic.
50 to 80% of people no longer read past the headline of online articles. This affects you. Because people are now sharing sensational lies without the context that’s buried in the body of the articles. It’s how I nearly got expelled from university when I wasn’t thorough enough to check my teammate’s work for plagiarism. And it’s how an AI-generated photo of an explosion at the Pentagon caused an 85-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Index in 4 minutes.
Excessive speed hinders growth.
It’s not just reading. People don’t want to slow down to learn if they feel they don’t have to.
“Fake it until you make it,” they say.
Why take the time developing leadership skills when you can just pretend you’re a leader? Well, for one, it leads to impostor syndrome—a condition I see many struggle with these days. There’s a simple solution to that:
Stop pretending to be something you’re not.
If you’re a beginner, don’t pretend to be an expert. That puts you in a bad spot because experts are held to higher standards. They’re expected not to make beginner mistakes.
This often goes one of two ways.
Denying wrongdoing. Like online “influencers” with thousands of followers who give advice on topics they know nothing about.
Growth is stalled either way.
Excessive speed degrades quality.
Sometimes, fake experts run companies—like bosses with no technical experience running software teams. I know because I’ve been a professional software developer for over a decade. I’ve seen bosses make silly demands, and impose impossible deadlines. They want things done so fast; they can’t be done properly.
The solution to all this is to slow down. Slow Living is the practice of moving fast without rushing. It lets you be the best version of yourself by making the most of what you uniquely offer to add the most value to the world.
There are 3 steps to becoming the best you, but only by slowing down:
A person who’s “faking it to make it” is pretending to be someone they’re not to gain the approval of others. That means letting others define you while chasing (and faking) prestige. It’s why online influencers like to show off their lavish lifestyles. It draws followers.
The key is to know yourself.
Slow down and identify your values, likes, and strengths. Only then can you make the most of what you uniquely offer and ensure you always do what you believe in. It’s how you make sure all your time is spent wisely with no regrets.
Of course, you’ll also have dislikes and weaknesses. So, you need to set yourself up for continuous self-improvement.
Knowing yourself points you in a direction in life where you’re most likely to find success. But the world wants to push in directions you may not want to go…
You need strength to stand up for yourself, or you’ll cave to the next fad. Even if it violates your beliefs.
A plant grows from a seed sown into the ground where its roots give it strength. You need to sow seeds for success, which means forming and sustaining good habits for continuous self-improvement.
For me, publishing this newsletter has been a system for improving my writing. I’m super grateful to all my wonderful reviewers for all of their feedback both, negative and positive, but always constructive. Getting quality feedback from others has helped me catch problems I couldn’t see for myself.
Once you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can identify the areas you want to work on and set up your own system for continuous self-improvement.
And this is where knowing your likes is important because you have to enjoy the iterative process of improvement to keep you going. I could only work on my writing skills for so long because I enjoy the writing process. From reading critically what others write, to writing my thoughts, to flesh them out, to editing out what’s not needed. Remember:
Now, you have a direction. And you’re moving forward with the strength to deal with what’s ahead of you. But your journey doesn’t need to be solo. And there’s a way to give yourself a boost…
Having a system of self-improvement helped me grow. But nothing helped me grow more than helping others. Why? Because to help someone else, you need to add value to their lives. It means opening yourself to new points of view and, ultimately, a smoother journey.
Start by understanding their needs from their perspective. And, hey, that can be hard. Often, it will feel like you and the other person live far apart in separate worlds. It’s hard for an ‘A’ student to understand an ‘F’ student, or for a boss to understand his employee, or for a recruiter to understand a job seeker.
But by taking time to explore different perspectives, you’ll find better solutions to problems. What used to seem challenging might not be anymore. Your journey gets smoother.
Opening to different points of view also means bridging gaps between them. By unifying different perspectives, you’ll find our perspectives aren’t so different after all. You’ll bring people together. You’ll learn to build relationships.
Because helping another person isn’t just about devoting your time to understand them. It’s about working with them as partners to help them reach their goals. It’s about taking the time to give meaningful, honest feedback to help them succeed. Even when neither of you knows exactly what needs to be done, at least you can bounce ideas off of each other. There’s no need to overthink this. Even the smallest acts of genuine kindness can leave the biggest impact.
Why is building relationships important? Because friends can help you reach what you couldn’t reach on your own. But building quality relationships like this takes time. You can’t be like the White Rabbit of Alice in Wonderland—always in a hurry to be somewhere else.
You must be present. You must take it slow.
Modernity demands you move ever faster. But it takes time to develop—know, sow, and grow—the most meaningful parts of life.
Sow good habits.
Grow by helping others.
But most of all, take the time you need to do it all properly.
So, you can do it right AND enjoy the journey.
Because life is like a kernel of corn. If you cut through it, you lose all the flavour.
The Easter Egg
Thank you so much for reading this far.
So, what’s the secret with this post?
This edition is linked to all 52 previous editions of this newsletter.
It wasn’t just a fun, celebratory writing challenge.
I did it to show that you can connect a bunch of ideas that seem random on the surface. You can connect ideas to form a web of knowledge that reveals new insights about life and the world around you.
This wasn’t planned from the beginning.
And you can do it too.
You just need to slow down and think through things. It took me 52 weeks. But I’m slower than most people.
And this is only the beginning.
There’s beauty in the complexities of life. It’s just a blur to those in a hurry.
Move fast. Don’t rush.
I hope you enjoyed this dive Below the Surface of Slow Living and the one-year anniversary of this newsletter. I may not publish as often going forward as I need to take care of other areas of my life. But I look forward to making it better than ever.
I invite you to join me on the next leg of the journey.
Reply to email@example.com if you have questions or comments. Do you feel that life moves too fast sometimes? How do you deal with that? I’d love to hear from you as always.
Thank you for reading. Move fast. Don’t rush. And I’ll see you in the next one.