Settling Into Slow Living

It seems like October is just flying by. The days almost blend together.

When I lay my head on my pillow at night, sometimes I think of all the times I’ve done just that. Read a book until my eyes grow tired and then succumb to the release of sleep.

One night right after the other.

Time becomes more precious to us as we get older. Days are more refined and clearly outlined.

There is the repetition of daylight as the sun comes up in the eastern sky. And it rests dipping into the west as it sets.

There are happy days and sad days. And days when there are both, mixing together like ingredients stirred into a cake. Swirling into that in-between place.

I read somewhere that pleasure is an evolutionary gift. And that to the best degree of scientific understanding, all animals can experience a feeling of pleasure. But only humans can experience happiness, according to scientists.

Happiness Is Part Of Pleasure:

Happiness is a part of what is considered pleasure, and pleasure is something we only feel at certain times.

A field of yellow flowers against the backdrop of a blue sky

Scientists think that neurologically, pleasure comes from specific areas in the brain called hedonic hotspots. This is according to Kent Berridge, a neuroscientist at the University of Michigan.

When these hotspots pick up signals that we’re feeling pleasure, they release their own drug-like neurotransmitters. Nearby receptors pick up the neurotransmitters.

This creates a sensation of liking.

At the same time, these hotspots work with other parts of the brain to coordinate wanting. This is triggered by the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Thus we develop a conscious understanding that we’re experiencing pleasure. And this brings about a deep desire to keep that feeling going and to want it again in the future.

I know you didn’t need to know all that information. But I tend to get lost in the cavernous crater of details.

I usually feel somewhere in between most days. Inching up toward the scale of happiness.

When I lose my precious pets, I fall into a deep pit of sorrow that is hard to crawl out of. It takes quite some time for me to get up that slippery slope.

Mostly Content:

On a typical day, I am mostly content. I feel satisfaction in my life as a whole.

As the days and seasons pass me by, I feel relatively happy with my life. And for that I am thankful.

In settling into slow living, this shows a woman relaxing in a field of grass with her laptop in front of her.

I think if you are thankful, then satisfaction will usually follow.

It is during the simple days when we fall into a philosophy of sorts we now call “slow living.”

We’re urged to keep busy and seek to go farther. This is supposed to mean we are successful. But successful at what? Being able to multitask?

I recently read somewhere that slow living is a set of values that says faster isn’t always better.

In other words, when you put something in your mouth to eat, don’t be in a big rush to swallow it.

Instead, savor it.

Savor life.

It’s probably a good thing these days that I’m forced to take things slow.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

– Anne Lamott

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27 Comments

  1. Brenda, thank you for this post today. I never really thought about the differences between pleasure and happiness so this has opened my eyes a bit. I also believe gratitude and attitude and closely related to each other. Your posts are so calming for me to read, Thank You.

  2. This was all so lovely. I felt contentment reading your words and the images you included, as well as everyone’s comments. Happiness multiplied!

  3. That last quote about everything working if you unplug for a few minutes, including yourself, is my favorite quote! It’s so true!

  4. Beautiful post today and especially meaningful to think of a new week ahead with renewed thanks. I think we all have learned from this pandemic that things change so fast and we need to accept some of it is out of our hands but how we chose to live each day is in our hands.
    I almost feel like we have been granted a new lease on life.

  5. After working for countless years, we are certainly blessed to live a rather leisurely life now.
    Our travel vacations ended years ago.
    Just not interested any longer.
    It was always bothersome with planning, packing, flying and so many other things.
    Especially leaving the pets behind with friends or boarding. I didn’t like it.
    All in the past.
    Now we do whatever comes up each day.
    Would be nice to rescue an older pup.
    Need to think about it very carefully though.
    Enjoyed your blog today Brenda.

    1. Traveling caused too much anxiety for me. Was I going to get to the airport on time? Did I leave something in the hotel room, etc. And I certainly don’t want to board Ivy. She and I are happy just being at home together.

  6. Lovely post. I’m 76 and am enjoying my life, my puppy, my family tremendously. Health is a priority for me. I have projects and am busy enjoying life. Most of all, I thank God every day. I’m not a believer in organized religion, just God and me. I’m so grateful for my life. Ups and downs, but I’m coming out ok. I wish you a wonderful day.

    1. I’m with you on everything you wrote! Except I don’t have a puppy. I miss having a dog. But it’s just not something I can do now.

    2. I agree with you on all you’ve written here. I wish I could have a dog but will just have to wait a bit more. I’ll be moving soon and not sure if I can rent & have a dog but miss having one so much.

  7. Thank you, Brenda for this beautifully written – and felt – post on what is essential and meaningful in our lives. I love the phrase “slow living.”
    The quiet days of autumn bring on a sense of peace. I find that what disturbs it is the expectation of others, and of the holidays. I often thought the idea of hibernation a pleasant one.

    1. I stopped going to the kids’ holiday dinners and such long ago. I dreaded it and didn’t have a good time. Too much going on for me to relax and enjoy myself. Now I just see them one-on-one and it’s much nicer. I learn more about what’s going on in their lives this way. So there are no longer expectations of holidays.

  8. Awesome quote. Yes, my first chance to appreciate slowing down was as an elderly caregiver. No rushing would change anything but I was young & that was a new concept for me!

    Then in the pandemic, I finally came to appreciate home lufe as more than a stopping off place in the rush of working & recreating elsewhere. I learned a lot & found out just observing a small patch of nature has many rewards.

    I’ve always wanted to see something new. It’s a revelation to find I don’t always need to leave home to do that!

    Thanks for this meditation on an essential thing.

    1. I think the pandemic made us all look at things differently. We homebodies always loved to stay at home, so it wasn’t a big deal that we couldn’t go out and about.

  9. It’s odd that you wrote about happiness this morning because when I came in from the barn this morning, the cats, dogs, and horses all well and fed, my heart was literally singing, as they say. I actually said out loud “Dear Lord, why have you chosen me to be so blessed”. I wouldn’t change a thing about my life and unless I lose a loved one everything runs so smoothly day to day. I don’t know why all my relatives and friends are such wonderful people. Isn’t everyone supposed to have that one person who’s just a pain lol? And, scientists can have all the theories they want, but my sweet animals are definitely happy.

    1. ❤️ Just so L O V E when our pets have had their daily meals!!
      Very joyful 😊 to see them content and happy.
      You can always tell when they drift off to sleep and make cute noises!!!

  10. Another beautiful post. At our age we have the wisdom to realize and reflect on slowing down. The shorter, cooler days help me want to nest and slow down. We lost our sweet Coton last March and while it still makes us miss her terribly I am always grateful I can pet friends dogs. It brings joy for us to just see owners walking their beloved dogs or videos of dogs. Unfortunately it is not in the cards for us to care for a dog at this time. Pets are amazing gifts to us. This morning my friend was walking her daughter’s dog, fell and hopefully only broke her wrist. While we were talking our friend’s dog was there just wagging his tail while we pet him. He just made my day!

  11. I’m trying to master the art of “slow living” now that I’m in my late 70’s. It’s a challenge some days to just sit down and read for a while or watch a favorite show in the middle of the day. Always I’ve felt I need to be doing stuff, getting stuff done — and my lists were long. Now I might make a list but it may take me a few days to cross things off as I try to remember some “me time”. It’s a process. 🙂

    1. I’m the same way Ann. I’m 75 and have had the same routine as far as housework is concerned! I keep telling myself to let things go and give myself some time to relax and read or just get caught up on my favorite shows ( I record them). It never seems to happen!

  12. Your post today really spoke to me Brenda, I have always been a ‘rush about’ type of person, getting things done in a hurry so that I can fit more things into my day. I never stopped to appreciate the simple things in life, now I do, I love gardening and just sitting in the garden and enjoying the birds, rabbits and squirrels. We appear to have a ‘resident’ rabbit, he comes every day to partake of the clover and the wildflowers. If he (or she) doesn’t come when I think he should I get worried. I have seen him twice this morning, so I am content for now. We have made some makeshift shelters for the rabbit and smaller animals for the winter months. They are placed under shrubbery for extra protection from the snow. It remains to be seen as to whether they will use them or not. Apparently, they like shelters made from wood or twigs, things that they are used to seeing around.

    1. I was the same way. I don’t know why I thought I had to have everything done in one day. Now that I can’t bustle around so much, I’m learning that it’s quite peaceful to go more slowly.

  13. Another wonderful and thought-provoking post, Brenda!
    I’ve been known to stand on my soap box and beat my drum regarding self-care. I’ve gone down rabbit holes about things we must do to find joy in our lives. So many things I’ve read mention everything you’ve said about our brain. Slow living is a huge part of my life. I’ve even asked myself numerous times why I rushed through life and did things expected of me without stopping once to think about what it is that would make me happy. I did everything to please everyone around me. Here in my 60’s I’m focused on ME and what it takes to keep myself happy. I’m going to stop rambling – that’s exactly what I’m doing. LOL Thank you again, Brenda for today’s post.

    1. Ramble away! I enjoy reading the comments. Why do we rush through life? I think it’s instilled in us as children to do more.

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