The anniversary of Thoreau's birthday is a fitting time to remind ourselves that less is often more.
Today is July 12, birthday of American writer and philosopher Henry Thoreau. Thoreau's most famous book, Walden, was a reflection on simple living in natural surroundings, which is why July 12 has been designated as "Simplicity Day". It is an opportunity for those of us caught in the frenzy of modern life to take pause, assess our circumstances, and see where we can simplify our lives.
Why would we want to do that? Because, as explained in the description for Simplicity Day, it reflects an ancient wisdom that seems to have been lost in present days.
"Choosing to live a life of simplicity is not about choosing to live in poverty; it is about living in balance. Based on three key elements -- ecological awareness, frugal consumption and personal growth -- voluntary simplicity is helping people change their lives and collectively helping to create a better world."
Personal lives are, of course, deeply complex and multi-faceted things, so there are countless ways in which one can work to simplify one's life. Tackling everything at once is probably not a good idea, bound to end in a sense of frustration and overwhelm. Focus instead on what's important, not urgent, and on the things that you want for yourself. Here are some ways to start:
1. Empty your schedule. Create empty space. Start saying no to events, responsibilities, and invitations that fill your life with unnecessary clutter. Fun though they may be, they're often fluff that detracts from the truly valuable activities in life.
2. Eat well. Ditch artificial ingredients, processed food, and sugar and replace it with fresh, whole, local, seasonal ingredients. Cleaning up your diet will rejuvenate your body and spirit.
3. Purge your home. Remove unnecessary belongings from your home to create a space that better reflects who you are, that contains only those items that "spark joy," as Marie Kondo would say, and that is less work to tidy and clean.
4. Use a capsule wardrobe. Fewer clothes means less laundry, less clutter, less guesswork when it comes to figuring out what to wear each day. The fewer decisions you have to make over the course of a day, the more mental juice you have left for the decisions that count.
5. Tackle debt. If you have debt of any kind, start paying it down today. Commit to a regular repayment schedule and make it your focus; it will become more exhilarating as the end draws nearer. Commit to not acquiring any more, either.
6. Minimize screen time. Challenge the notion that constant connectivity is a good thing; it's not. It is draining and corrosive. Delete these apps from your phone, or learn to manage them. Commit to an hour of offline time every day.
7. Go outside. Spending time outside is a wonderful way to clear your head, to remove yourself physically from the temptation of all the things needing to be done at home, and to boost your mood.