In his book, “Timeless Simplicity: Creative Living in a Consumer Society,” John Lane introduces an analogy about an industrialist and a fisherman.
The fisherman, having caught all the fish he needed for the day, lay by his boat smoking a pipe. The industrialist approaches him and asks the fisherman why he has stopped fishing. If he had continued fishing, he would have more product to sell, and with the money could buy a bigger boat, use better equipment, catch more fish and make even more money. The industrialist says that if the fisherman did all of these things, then he could sit back and enjoy life.
The fisherman replies that he is already doing that. The fisherman had what he needed for his well-being, and instead of working excessively, he decided to enjoy his life.
Life may not always be as simple as this metaphor about a fisherman and an industrialist, but the message still stands: work to live, don’t live to work. From children’s folktales to Shakespearean and Greek tragedies, many characters' downfalls have been caused by over-ambition.
Modern literature also showcases this theme. Elaine Aron's 1996 book, “The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You,” guides people with overly sensitive sensory processing on how to design a life more suitable for their temperament. The book is a staple in modern psychology and supports the concept of living a slower, calmer life.
In 2004, Carl Honoré's “In Praise of Slow” served as the catalyst for the “slow living" movement. This movement encourages a cultural shift toward slowing down the pace of life.
Slow living is in direct opposition to the 24/7 grind of our country's pervasive “hustle culture.” As college students, we are encouraged to give 100% at school, hold a part-time job, be active in clubs and maintain a thriving social life. Slow living puts less of an emphasis on involvement and activity, emphasizing instead mental well-being and enjoying the little moments—leisurely sips of coffee in the morning, long walks in nature, reading on picnic blankets in the sun.
The calmer mindset of a slow living lifestyle is beneficial for many people, but it is especially valuable for college students.
When drowning in work and responsibilities, taking time to live slowly may seem like just another task to add to the to-do list. With internships to find, rent to pay and a GPA to maintain, taking life slowly might seem like nothing more than ignoring obligations. I would argue, however, that in the long run, going at a slower pace prevents dangerous burnout and improves mental health, work performance and relationships.
I realize that this mindset takes privilege, since it’s harder to find calm moments if you have kids, work multiple jobs or are struggling to pay the bills. What I am saying, though, is that taking time to appreciate life should not be seen as failure. In fact, slow living should be the goal, not hustle culture.
Slow living is not only about rest and relaxation; it is about appreciation for the world and its many gifts. The “slow food” movement, for example, began in Italy in 1986 as a reaction to fast food chains encroaching on local, traditional eating. Not only is slow food tastier and more beneficial to local economies, it is more environmentally friendly and healthy. Similarly, having a more peaceful mindset combats excessive spending habits and the scourge of fast fashion.
A hustle mindset, despite being the norm for college students, is not sustainable. We need to be more like the fisherman than the industrialist and find ways to appreciate our life in the present.
Kathryn Craddock is a 21-year-old mass communication junior from Patterson, Louisiana.