Gentle Living, what does that even mean?
Updated: Feb 11
When I left the corporate world after 20 years to focus on my own business, my husband gave me a book: "Gentle Living. A guide to slowing down, enjoying more and being happy."
A clear sign in which direction, he felt, I needed to look. But what does Gentle Living even mean? And how would I know that I was doing it right?
When I opened the book, I was shown with a list of new hobbies I could start, ways to slow down, new clothes I should buy and the many cities I should be travelling to. And while I love many of the things the book suggested, they didn't feel right. I somehow was kept with a longing for a different kind of gentle living.
You should know, I belong to the category of human being that can't stop thinking until a problem is solved. And I now had the problem to find out what Gentle Living meant. With a philosophical mindset, I started analysing and exploring. I started approaching the question from how it feels to be living gently. How would I know I am doing it right? I decided it's a sense of ease and happiness a person reflects. These people have this peacefulness within them and seem to have all the time in the world to do what they want.
Next, I tested my theory. I found many examples of people who looked to me like they where benefiting from a gentle lifestyle. But when trying to get the recipe I realised not one of them was doing the same thing as the other. Some where living a life I didn't find gentle at all. Yet all of them where happy, full of energy and fulfilment and had this ease and peacefulness around them.
I looked closer and came to the conclusion that living gently is not about what you do, but about knowing where you are and where you want to go. It's about your values, about what gives you purpose and the decision, how you want to live this life. The moment you realise that you are no longer in line with what you stand for, when you loose sight of your dreams, and the moment when you don't feel yourself but only function automatically throughout each day, that's the moment when you are neither gentle nor living. You will know you are on the wrong track, because it won't feel right. There is no resonance with what you are doing. You have to push yourself to keep going.
Now you might think, don't we all have to sometimes do things even though we don't want to? To meet a deadline. To be a good friend. Or to bring in the money for the family. My answer would be "Jein" (a mix of the German words for yes and no). Leaving the path you have set for yourself should always be a conscious decision! Every morning! The risk to get stuck and to forget about your dreams is too high. And once you only function and don't feel joy in what you are doing you will start disconnecting from your body and your emotions. Gentle living is honouring that you are more than just your mind and more than the money that you bring home. It's the art of balancing: It's doing things that align your body, your mind and your heart. Doing and being, keep going and pausing, yes and no. It's about giving yourself permission to do what you like to do and not only what you need to do.
So take a moment to check in. How do you feel about where you are at the moment in your life? How does it feel to be here? Are you the person you would like to be? What do you wish to be next?
When doing so, listen to "all your brains": the logic of the mind, the intuition in your belly and the passion of your heart. If you discover something new, be gentle! Ask yourself: what would be one small thing I can do or let go, not do today, to get one step closer to yourself, your dreams and values? Just one thing, one step!
That's your first step towards a more gentle life. Go slow, and enjoy every moment of it.