National Simplicity Day is an awareness day that is celebrated annually on the birthday of Henry David Thoreau. Henry was an advocate for a simple life and wrote many books on the subject the most popular of which being ‘Walden’ in 1854. The book is an account of a two-year period in which he spent living in a cabin that he himself built just off Walden Pond in Massachusetts.
“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” ― Henry David Thoreau
When asked why he moved into the tiny cabin in Walden he said, “to learn what are the gross necessaries of life”. Now Henry took a simple life to extremes with him only having one meal a day with no meat or spices/condiments even going as far to say “that grossest of groceries” was salt. He refused any other drink than water and would only drink very little to keep his thirst quenched.
You do not however have to be quiet as extreme as Henry to live a simpler life. The definition of simplicity is the state or quality of being simple. Living a simple life is a way of living without all the possessions and worries of modern life. We live in an age where we are constantly using devices whether it be phones, computers, the television and many more. We rarely have tome to sit, reflect, be present and gather our thoughts.
Living a simple life has many benefits such as:
- Improving personal relationships – Switching off and spending more time with loved ones helps to build those relationships and strengthens them. Various studies have found that developing strong, solid friendships can reduce you risk of illness. A Harvard study found that keeping close friendships could promote a healthier brain as you grow older.
- Saving money – When you make the choice to live a simple life you really must concentrate on deciding what is necessary and what is not. When you have made these decisions, you will notice that you spend and owe less money. A UK study in 2018 showed that 40% of the population worry about their financial situation.
- Improve your brain function – Studies have shown that the use of tech can have a negative impact on the problem solving, memory and impulse inhibition parts of the brain so using tech less can only have the opposite effects.
- Helping you to get more sleep – Trying to complete several tasks at once and not taking the time to be present and focused increases stress levels. Stress is one of the number one reasons people do not sleep peacefully.
A few small things you can do to begin your journey to a simpler life:
- Switch off your gadgets for an hour a day and be present.
- Declutter your life do you really need all the things you have? Can you sell some?
- Chose one day a week to be a simple day. Use it to unwind and concentrate on yourself mentally you may not be able to take a full day break from your life but just take some moments in that day and really try to reflect.
- Get out in nature more. Nature and natural environments have been proven to have significant positive benefits to your mental and physical wellbeing.
“Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But its worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains. - Steve Jobs
Simplicity comes hand in hand with being mindful so you could also begin using mindfulness practices to help you focus on a simple life. Ultimately the goal is to be more present, more mindful, and more natural allowing yourself to focus on what is important in your life.