A sustainable manifesto for The Slow Movement

Living too fast can turn life into a blur, but Carl Honoré is here to wake us up. Carl is a bestselling author, TED speaker, broadcaster and the global voice of the Slow Movement. He travels the world to deliver powerful keynotes that put time and tempo in a whole new light. By using stories and research from across the globe, Carl teaches us how to unleash “the inner tortoise”. His book, “In Praise of Slow”, chronicles the international trend towards putting on the brakes in everything we do – from work to relationships, travel, food or parenting.

Slowness is key to sustainability. It means being conscious, present, responsible, and putting quality before quantity. In order to thrive in a fast world, we have to slow down. Discover how by reading Carl’s insights in this exclusive interview for Community Index Magazine!

The interview was initially published in the bilingual yearbook Community Index Magazine no. 5. You can flip through it here: https://communityindex.ro/community-index-magazine-2023/

1.You’re the internationally acclaimed voice of the Slow Movement. It seems we need to slow down if we want to age well. What is it about slowness that turns it into a superpower?

When you get stuck in fast forward, when every moment of your life is a race against the clock, you pay a heavy price. You wear out your body and mind. You struggle to think, work, and enjoy the moment. Your creativity falls off a cliff. You make more mistakes and are less efficient. You make bad decisions. Your relationships suffer. Slowing down to the right speed makes you calmer, healthier, happier, more focused, more accurate, more efficient and productive, more creative, and more present. You start living your life instead of racing through it.

2.In a world of busyness, speed and living life on fast-forward, what are the biggest gains of slowing down? What is the connection to sustainable living? Do you find that individuals are ready and willing to get in tune with taking it slow or is it hard to cut through the noise and expand the slow movement?

When you live “slow”, you tread more lightly on the planet. You consume less and more wisely. You stop obsessing about your to-do lists. That is when you truly start contemplating the big picture and thinking long-term. I noticed that most people yearn to slow down, but many find it hard. Because of the powerful taboo against slowness, even just thinking about slowing down makes us feel afraid, guilty or ashamed. Speed is often an instrument of denial, a way of avoiding deeper problems or being alone with ourselves. Rather than facing up to what is going wrong in our lives, we find it easier to speed up, to lose ourselves in busyness, to focus on the trivial stuff. Living a fast life is, often, a way of running away from yourself!

3.You believe that “ageism is a self-fulfilling prophecy”. What made you decide to start championing and celebrating the advantages of growing old?

For me, it all started with discovering that I was the oldest player at a hockey tournament! It may sound trivial, I know, but it sure didn’t feel that way! Picture the scene: I was 48 at the time! I had just propelled my team into the semi-finals by scoring a dramatic goal. I was walking on air! Then came the news, straight from a tournament official.

He told me: “Mate, there are 240 players here, and you’re older than every one of them!” In the blink of an eye, I went from goal scorer to grandad. Even though I’d been playing well and having fun, the questions crowded in: “Do I look out of place here? Are people laughing at me? Should I take up a more age-appropriate pastime? Bingo, perhaps?”

My wobble got me thinking about how we are all in thrall to the cult of youth. To the idea that younger is always better and that ageing is a terrible and shameful thing. Once I opened my eyes and began doing some research, I realized that there is a much better story to tell about growing older – and I wanted to share that with the world!

4.How can we escape the cult of youth and become free to enjoy whatever phase of life we are in?

First, check your language. Stop using phrases like “senior moment”, “showing my age” or “the wrong side of 40” that reinforce the idea that ageing is all about decline. Second, be honest. Lying about your age gives the number a power it does not deserve. It locks you into the old ageist script. Being honest about how old you are and owning your age lets you define what your life will be at every stage. To embrace ageing as an adventure rather than an affliction, a process of opening, rather than closing doors. Third, find inspiring role models for ageing, on social media or beyond. Fourth, join multigenerational groups with people older than you. Befriending older people is a great way to build a more optimistic view of what the future holds for you.

5.What would be the top three steps anyone can take in order to set free “the inner tortoise” and cultivate a more meaningful and conscious lifestyle that’s in line with what they value most in life?

Do less. Buy less. Consume less. Drive less. Unplug more. Walk more. Listen more. Sleep more. Stop multitasking and do one thing at a time. Embed slow moments and rituals into your schedule. Embrace your inner tortoise!

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