What the old ladies got right: living slowly and intentionally

AI is taking over our jobs, major global conflicts threaten the start of WWIII, no one is satisfied with our presidential candidates and the country’s legislators are eroding the separation between church and state. In a world where it feels like everything is going wrong and is completely out of our control, what can we do to improve our quality of life? It turns out that the answer to this question may have been staring us in the face the whole time. Some of the strategies for living a happier, more fulfilling life are often written off as just for old ladies, but many of the ways that seniors move slower than the world around them are key to finding happiness. 

When someone pictures an older woman, they likely imagine her knitting on a rocking chair on her front porch or in the company of others doing just the same. Although these are generalizations, the merits of engaging in a hobby with one’s hands, such as knitting or crocheting, are truly quite incredible. The practice can decrease stress, enhance self-esteem, and even slow the impact of cognitive decline associated with diseases like dementia. Beyond the benefits of a handicraft hobby, the community woven within a knitting circle is something that many people lack in their everyday lives. Many people today live solitary lives, lacking regular community activities to look forward to. Conversely, the knitting and quilting circles that we might stereotype as “old lady activities” provide exactly this, allowing people with the same hobbies to connect as they work.

Older women are also known for being very intentional with their time. Acting intentionally can take many different forms, from prioritizing time spent with a grandchild to choosing to participate in a weekly gardening group to setting a specific hour of every day dedicated to reading. The overall purpose is to align these activities with one’s values, ensuring they guide how you spend your time. While many students do not have the same abundance of free time as retirees, the ways that someone chooses to spend the free time they do have matters. Making this choice in a meaningful way will look different for every individual. It might look like dedicating the last hour of a day to reading or doing trivia with a friend every Thursday. Regardless of what this time might exactly look like for you, choosing to set aside time for something you love will always be time well spent.

Discussing the positive impacts of specific hobbies, a strong community, and intentionality with one’s time is only the first step to making this type of positive change in one’s life. The next, more important step is implementing meaningful changes. The adjustments that each individual may be able to make, or wants to make, will look entirely different from one person to the next. Consider whether or not there is a beloved hobby that has fallen to the wayside, and set aside time tonight or this weekend to dedicate to it. 

If you feel uninspired by the hobbies you have on hand, then it might be time to research new possibilities. Maybe you are already dedicated to a hobby that you love, but right now it is something that you practice alone. Researching a local club or community to connect with others would be well worth your while. Whatever it is that you may or may not decide to change, I encourage everyone to intentionally prioritize their hobbies, community and overall happiness.