Search

Benefit of Slow Words Wisdom & Corollary Concepts

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

This is Part III is a three-part series. It picks up from Part I: Downshifting: An Introduction to Slow Words Wisdom and Part II: Enacting Slow Words Wisdom


Benefits of Slow Words Wisdom


Peace and justice


When people treat themselves and each other with kindness and compassion, empathy, balance and egalitarianism are the natural results. A more just and peaceful society is the result when multiple people forge connections with each other based on empathy and compassion. This is why taking others’ perspectives, forbearance and extending compassion to others are so important. It is far easier to create peace and justice anew than to seek it after a wrong has already been committed.


Health & wellness


By slowing down the pace of our thoughts, our words, our expectations and demands, we also reduce our stress, our heart rate and our attendant risk of cardiovascular and other health problems. Wellbeing is akin to quality of life, the feeling that the different areas of our life are in balance, aligned and fulfilling. It doesn’t mean we have perfect lives or that we have an absence of pain and suffering. But Slow Words Wisdom contributes to health and wellbeing by placing us in touch with what fulfills us, by putting our thoughts and emotions in perspective, and by helping us set the pace of our lives, rather than other influences set the pace for us. Thus, Slow Words Wisdom gives us more control over how we choose to live our lives, as well as an expansive definition of happiness and fulfillment that includes simple pleasures and connection with others and the world at large.





Enrichment


Through compassion, through increasing our awareness of our emotions and thoughts, through taking action with intent, through conscious enjoyment of simple pleasures, we live a greatly enriched life. By finding joy in small things, we decrease our fragile reliance on material wealth, objects and social status as a means of fulfillment. Through forbearance, speaking less often and choosing our words and actions with care, we increase their potency, depth and quality.


Intimacy


Cultivating Slow Words Wisdom and exercising forbearance in dealing with people allows for the existence of both a public and private life, both of which are important to living a full and meaningful life. Social media encourages us to share every detail of our lives with every person in our lives—every problem we’re having, every emotion we’re experiencing, place we visit, and every thought we’re thinking. This lack of discretion devalues the quality of what we share, cheapens our interactions with others, and takes the special moments in our lives and turns them into fodder to be used for someone else’s two-second attention-span worth of entertainment. Our lives and the moments in them are worth more than that, but social media deludes us into thinking that we are merely billions of reality TV shows in microcosm—not human beings living real lives. Slow Words Wisdom reclaims our privacy, thus fostering a sense of intimacy—the sense that some things are special by dint of the fact that we only share them with a select few people in our lives.


Connection


By fostering empathy and compassion for ourselves and others, Slow Words creates connection between people. Connection is also created by decreasing the distance between ourselves and the natural environment. Additionally, we forge a connection between ourselves and our physical and emotional needs, by exploring and acknowledging them. This sense of connection adds to the overall feeling of balance and harmony that can collectively be referred to as wellbeing.


Corollary concepts to Slow Words Wisdom and how they relate


Lagom


Just right, moderation and balance are words that have been used to describe the concept of lagom, with slightly different connotations in Swedish and Norwegian. Lagom is also a method of psychotherapy emphasizing balance. Unlike lagom, the pursuit of balance is not seen as an end state or a goal of Slow Words Wisdom, but rather it is a byproduct of being fulfilled, with other areas of one’s life being in alignment.


Hygge


Hygge is a Danish word that connotates coziness and comfort, safety, equality and “everyday togetherness.” Similar words exist in other cultures that express variations on feelings of warmth, togetherness, safety, and everyday experiences. Using these definitions as a guide, wrapping up in a favorite blanket, drinking coffee from an old mug with friends, listening to the sound of rain on the roof from inside one’s house with one’s family close by might be viewed as hygge experiences, especially when they are paired with feelings of contentment. Enjoying aspects of the mundane and elevating simple pleasures is an aspect of Slow Words Wisdom that parallels hygge, especially when steeped in the added dimension of a feeling of timelessness, that one’s experience is out of time and away from the pressures and limitations time imposes.





Wabi Sabi


Unlike hygge, which honors the timeless qualities of life, wabi sabi venerates the effect time has on all things. Wabi sabi has been said to roughly translate from the Japanese to English as “beautiful imperfection.” It refers to and honors the patina of time that is bestowed upon objects like a varnish that gives them an aged, weathered character. This “varnish” applies to human beings too, and wabi sabi could also be seen as a metaphor for aging gracefully and appreciating the beauty of entropy of anything, at any time along its life cycle. Not covering up wrinkles or getting plastic surgery to reverse signs of aging, but accepting and displaying these natural milestones of human maturation could be seen as in-keeping with the wabi sabi aesthetic. Wabi sabi parallels Slow Words Wisdom by honoring the process through which time and change inevitably leave their marks upon us. Death and disability are marks of change from which no one is exempt, but this culture is adept at running away from. By elevating and venerating rather than fearing the harbingers of the inevitable, wabi sabi gives us a lens through which we can honor all aspects of the human condition—even those that make us uncomfortable.


Taoism


Taoism is more easily described by what it isn’t than what it is. Religion is not an adequate description. Neither is philosophy. Around 3,000 years ago in China, a librarian called Lao Tzu (literally “Old Master”) wrote a book called The Tao Te Ching (The Way and Its Virtue). Who Lao Tzu was, whether he was a single person or many authors or whether such a person even existed, has been debated. Tao could be called that which underlies all things, substanceless, viewable and relatable only through the natural connections between things and the patterns formed by these connections. Tao is also the source of these connections and patterns, which is a paradox, because tao is not an object that can be weighed, measured or identified by some other means.


Taoism, as simply put as possible, is the act of living life in concordance with the tao, the natural rhythms of the universe. A taoist life is manifest by accepting all that is, without attempting to change it according to one's own designs and expectations. It is living life free of expectations of what should or ought to be. It is found in living simply, humbly, avoiding fame, status and notoriety and seeking neither wealth or power. The tao suggests that the true source of liberation is to be found in letting go, rather than clinging to or striving for a particular goal. Taoism suggests that the only ambition one ought to have is to let go of ambition, and that intellectual labors—a life of the mind—is no life at all; it is futile. Emptiness is the natural state of the mind, and we tend to overemphasize the importance of our thoughts and feelings by continually writing about them, discussing and analyzing them.


Slow Words Wisdom suggests that there is nothing wrong with having goals and ambition, wealth and status, or a life of the mind. The question is relative to degree of importance and value we place on our wealth, power and status and their trappings. I possess a graduate degree and over ten years of post-secondary education, but I recognize that my education does not automatically make me a learned person. I can accept a promotion at work, an award, or money, all with the realization that these things are just that—things—they are fleeting and do not make me any better or any worse than any other human being I encounter. I can set and work toward goals, but I can do so without fixating or obsessing over them, and I can let go of my goals whether I achieve them or not. I can love words, thinking, research, writing, theorizing, but I can do so with an understanding that these activities are mere shadows of the light of creativity from which they emanate. Therefore, I strive not to confuse my thoughts with reality itself.


Perhaps the most difficult task, from a Taoist perspective, is to passionately work for change, to have a vision of a different future and yet to accept life as it is now. This is the burden of the Slow Words Wisdom movement.

Slow Words Wisdom is fundamentally an effort to connect with all that is human in the best, most intentionally realized form. Lagom emphasizes moderation and the virtue of balance in all we do. Hygge helps us celebrate the timeless simple joys of the ordinary. Wabi sabi teaches us to value the beauty in what we normally fear: age and disability. Taoism shows us how to be free, by casting off the yoke of our expectations, by following the examples we find in nature, by living in harmony with the patterns we discover all around us. Taking inspiration from the wisdom of these and other unique cultural concepts helps us widen the breadth and depth of our humanity. Through an exploration of Slow words Wisdom and these corollary concepts, we can do more than merely be more compassionate; we can, in effect, become scientists of happiness and joy, discovering new means of discovering enduring wellness through applying age-old wisdom in novel ways.


From temporary tonic to permanent change


Slow Words Wisdom is not a method for adapting to a dysfunctional society, but an alternative to it. It doesn’t offer a vison of utopia, but it does offer a means to identify the forces that isolate and alienate us, and to extricate and untangle us from the grasp of those forces. Through Slow Words Wisdom, we may draw roadmap with steps for identifying the agents of change for abandoning the assigned posts that our efficiency and productivity-based capitalist society has outlined. Sustained, long-term changes begin with small, manageable, realistic baby steps. Institutional change is cumbersome, and institutions are usually governed to resist change. Change then, must come from a different source. Slow Words Wisdom offers examples of how we can replace and rebuild society at its most fundamental unit: at the interpersonal level, with individuals, with you and me. By thoughtfully approaching how we think and act towards others, with kindness, awareness and deliberation, we can change the structure of society for the good of all.


Next up: Taking the Long Way Home: Slow Words Activities

39 views

Recent Posts

See All