Today, July 12, is National Simplicity Day. If you don’t know what that means I will make it real simple for you.
Every year on July 12, the Nation (or the handful of people that actually know this day exists) recognizes beloved American poet, author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau whose writing often advocated for simpler living.
Thoreau, who was born on this date in 1817, challenged not only society, but challenged himself to live a more simple life, so much so that he took a two year sabbatical and lived on a lake in Massachusetts to practice what he preached. Though some criticize this excursion (arguing that he lived on a family lot in a preexisting home rent-free while his Mother did his laundry) the objective of the mission should not be lost.
As Thoreau (who holds a remarkable resemblance to Ellen Degeneres) once said, “Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.” With all of the details and nonsense we’re bombarded with in our everyday lives, it can be hard to even recognize when it’s too much, but if we learn to recognize it, we can do our best to simplify it.
For one, put down the phone. Get off the social media and exist in the space around you. These days the reliance on technology to keep us on track can be overwhelming. Constantly checking what your friends are up to on Facebook, cramming meetings and to-do’s into your Google Calendar, using GPS to find the coffee shop around the corner… it can be too much. Though technology claims to simplify things for us, I believe the reliance on said technology can often be so overwhelming that it actually complicates things while falling under the guise of simplicity.
Try not checking Facebook for a day. I took that a few steps further 3 years ago and deleted my whole profile all together Though that once seemed like an impossible action to even consider, now that I’ve done it I feel much better and life feels simpler. I’m not inundated with what my friends are doing, seeing only what they choose to post, and I don’t know about what’s going on in any one else’s lives unless they choose to tell me. I believe if I need to know something, my friends know how to contact me and if it’s important enough they specifically reach out. Resorting back to old school phone calls (though texts are acceptable!) makes communication stronger and more meaningful, and therefore more simple.
It’s wonderful to see what you’re capable of when you have no access to your phone or computer. Looking at what’s around you, listening to the thoughts in your head and the sounds around you, and writing it all down in a notebook (not your iPhone notepad ) can be an experience much like meditation and it’s one not practiced often enough. It’s important to keep the distractions to a minimum and simplify, simplify.
Aside from the technological distractions we experience, general clutter in our homes or our workspaces can be detrimental to our practices of simplicity. Take a moment to look around your living space. Is there anything that you haven’t used in years? Anything that you’re holding on to just because you don’t feel like giving it up? If your space is feeling cluttered and you have too much stuff, it’s harder to enjoy the few things you use and need. Having less is more as they say, and having less makes life more simple.
Take today to assess what you can do to make your life simpler, whether it’s just for today, just for this week, or for weeks and years to come, and start acting. Making your daily functions and your daily habits simpler help you live a more meaningful life.
If everything I just said sounds absolutely outrageous to you, no worries. Today also happens to be Amazon Prime Day, so go enjoy some sales and enjoy the simplicity of how with one click you can order a bunch of crap and fill your house with a ton of stuff you don’t need.