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Since launch, monocle has been a champion of taking things slowly – of considering your options, turning off your devices and making the time to enjoy what’s important. We’ve long suggested that if you dig a little deeper you’ll find reasons to be cheerful, stories worth sharing and bright ideas waiting to be seen and seized upon.

We’ve clocked a subtle rebalancing taking place among the people we’ve met and interviewed around the globe since our first issue in 2007. It seems to be dawning on leaders, entrepreneurs and civilians – like us – that our lives and livelihoods could do with a rethink.

Sometimes the fixes are simple and personal: to run, dive into a lake, sleep more or set aside some time with the people who make us happy. Maybe it’s about eating food from producers who are proud of its provenance or building spaces into cities that respect older residents and value younger ones. It could be about jobs and workplaces that make us feel as though we can flourish and belong. So how about taking a time away from the crush to flick through a book with a few gentle suggestions about living better?

During a shouty, finger-jabbing era in history, we’ve done our bit to argue for a new, kinder etiquette and a generosity with time, hospitality and forgiveness. Now our editors have brought all this together in one simple book.

The Monocle Book of Gentle Living (out mid-September and available to order from monocle.com or with our partner publisher Thames & Hudson) is a handbook for a new decade and beyond. It’s a book that helps you think about how to slow down, reconnect, make good things happen, do something you care about and discover nice places and extraordinary people along the way. Naturally, it also knows when to wear a cheeky smile. So are you sold on the idea that it’s time for a rethink? Go on, turn the page.


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1.

Meet the neighbours

Who’s that at the door?

With a bottle of wine, an offer of a hand and a proper smile. It’s nice to be nice and know someone has your back (as well as your adjoining wall).


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2.

Buy close-by

Market values

Buy local, heed the traders’ advice and eat better. Fancy used to mean food from abroad; now we understand the honesty of goods produced nearby.


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3.

Be positive (as in optimistic)

It’s a sure thing

Count your blessings, the world is full of interesting people, ideas to discuss and businesses to found. Don’t believe the doomsayers and dullards.


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4.

Give it a second life

Stitch up

Think twice before you throw something away. Can you glue it, resole it or turn up the hem? Buy stuff that, when “broken”, you might just be able to fix.


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5.

Feather your nest

Home truths

A home might not be for life but it should be for living in, so invest in things that make you appreciate being there. Once the latch clicks shut, your home becomes your own world.


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6.

Check your tone

Walk away

Life’s too short for online rants, anonymous comments and digital retribution. Take a deep breath and delete that snarky comment or pissy email – you’ll feel better for it.


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7.

Surround yourself with things you adore

Own it

Pity the minimalist monk who threw away his worldly possessions and sits staring at a white wall. It really is OK to own things.


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8.

No news is (sometimes) good news

Read something uplifting

Too many heavy headlines crush a mood; too many sites publish “facts” that aren’t true or the full story. Read and listen to fewer but better media outlets.


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9.

Learning should be lifelong

Best practise

Learning should continue long after school is over. And there’s still time to gain new skills after retirement too – to dance, join the lawn bowls club or get creative with your hands.


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10.

Strip off and swim

Splash out

Do you want to spend your life on the sidelines, in the shallow end or, worse, inside at the bar? There’s time for that when the sun goes down. Come on in, the water’s fine.


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11.

Spend time at the dining table

Break bread together

Invest in a space where you and your family can sit in the morning and come together at night to digest the day’s events. TV dinners just aren’t the same, nor as nourishing.


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12.

Take the window seat

Take a view

Even if it’s the hundredth time you’ve taken that flight, you might glimpse something new or just daydream with sunlight on your eyelids. It’s hard to see the world from an aisle seat.


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13.

Be positive (as in sure)

Don’t dally

Go on, have an opinion. Not a mean one. Just be passionate and sincere about something. It’s no fun for you or anyone else when you sit on the fence. It’s also very uncomfortable.


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14.

Climb a tree

Branch out

In Germany, Waldschule (forest schools) bring up children in the wild and no one worries about grazed knees. In Norway many ski to school. Don’t always do the sensible thing.


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15.

Start something: a company, a club, a collection

Take action

This is the most important bit: do something with these tips. This is humble but practical advice – ideas to heed, not just read.

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