On ro

Ro is a Swedish word that roughly translates to tranquility, peace, quiet, or calm. It also means row, as in rowing a boat.

In linguistics, that’s an example of a homonym—words with the same spelling or pronunciation but different meanings.

Perhaps someday I’ll want to learn how to row a boat, but for now, I’m interested in the other definition of ro. I’ve written about lagom, solitude, and slowness in previous posts, and the idea of ro is related to those concepts. Like lagom, it conveys living at a sustainable pace and finding contentment in the moment.

When I reflect on the past few years of my life, I realize I haven’t made enough time for intentional moments of calm and peace. Especially when I worked at a fast-paced startup in San Francisco a couple of years ago, my days and weeks were filled with back-to-back meetings, followed by more work at home. In retrospect, that lifestyle was unhealthy and unbalanced.

How might you incorporate more ro in your life? It may come from certain habits, places/spaces evoking calmness, or relationships that reduce stress. So it’s about consciously choosing environments, activities, and social connections that foster serenity.

Of course, what works best differs for everyone. During my sabbatical, here are a few practices that are helping me maximize rest and rejuvenation:

  • Slow mornings - I’ve long been a night owl, but now I’m taking full advantage of fewer responsibilities by not rushing my (late) morning routine by worrying about work.
  • Meditation - I’m practicing daily, even if just for 10 minutes. A few minutes of mindfulness significantly improves my mood.
  • Running - Another habit I’d let slip but am slowly re-establishing. It’s helped me discover new parts of my neighborhood I’d never been to before.
  • Simple dinners - My wife and I usually like to watch something during dinner, which isn’t ideal. Lately, we’ve been spending at least a couple of weeknights just eating, chatting, and relaxing.
  • Journaling and writing - Daily writing has allowed me to stay productive on sabbatical and get into a flow state for a few hours as I learn and clarify my thinking.
  • Reading books - Slowly progressing through my reading list has been great and far more relaxing than scrolling endlessly on Twitter (though that too is fun at times).

If you could adopt one habit that brings more calmness in your life, what would it be?