The Art of Simplicity

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A cup of dark roast coffee, sunrise porch time, fresh sheets, a garden tomato, the smell of a new book, a glass of red fireside.....These are a few of my favorite things.  All so simple, yet they bring me so much joy.

Henry David Thoreau author, naturalist, philosopher, was born on July 12, 1817.  Thoreau is well known to have been an advocate of living a simple life, which was highlighted in his popular book Walden. To honor him and his passion, National Simplicity Day is observed July 12th.

Pondering Simplicity Day, I considered what areas of my life I might simplify.  Taking on a rather Minimalist mindset, I decided to implement a few simple changes of my own:

  • Eliminate the excess.  Bit by bit, room by room, I gathered up the excess stuff that no longer served a purpose, that was consuming space, and packaged it up for donation. Less clutter was a freeing feeling.
  • Organize my finances. A few simple tweaks to my monthly budget and enrolling monthly bills in auto-pay greatly reduced stress and has become a huge time saver!
  • Purchase only the essentials. Is it a need or a want? Do I already own something similar? Pausing to ask myself these questions has significantly diminished any impulsive purchases.
  • Reduce plastics. From the occasional bottle of water, ziploc bags and saran wrap. It all adds up. Between my own reusable bottles and food containers, I no longer make these unnecessary purchases. In addition, I moved the five reusable grocery bags in the back of my car to the front where I have no excuse not to grab them.
  • Learning to say NO. This is a hard one for me, but I feel its one of the most important. I am an introvert. Allowing myself the opportunity to say no and to delegate more, has been a simple way for me to create space, find peace, and recharge when its desperately needed.

This is a glimpse of my changes. Pretty simple, right? Simple, yet incredibly powerful in their positive impact.

In a busy world where time and attention are directed to so many things and are constantly pulled in many different directions, we risk a negative toll on our physical health, our mental health, our relationships, and our overall growth.  Through a bit of self-reflection, I continue to find happiness through life’s simplicities, not through “things”.  I encourage you to pause and celebrate simplicity in a way that speaks to you. What are the elements that are important and necessary in your life, and in what areas may you need tidying up?  Unplug from devices?  Declutter your home?  Reduce plastics or practice self-care through meditation, deep breathing, or through taking a mindful walk?

In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “Don’t waste the years struggling for things that are unimportant. Don’t burden yourself with possessions. Keep your needs and wants simple and enjoy what you have. Don’t destroy your peace of mind by looking back, worrying about the past. Live in the present. Simplify!”

So, how will you?


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About Author

Cheryl Wheelock

Recreation and Fitness Program Coordinator

Cheryl has worked in health and fitness for 20 years. In addition to teaching group exercise, she is a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and is a Registered Yoga Teacher. When she's not at SAS, she is a mom to two daughters and a black lab and enjoys logging many miles on her bike.

5 Comments

  1. Cameron Gatlin on

    Great article! I try and follow many of the same practices to eliminate excess waste. As someone who hates throwing food out (and appreciates a low grocery bill), I learned about the pantry challenge. The pantry challenge is a focused time when you use up what you have before buying more food. In doing so, you waste less food, spend less time shopping, and save money by not overbuying. It’s a great way to save money and be a better steward of your kitchen resources.

  2. Rebecca Allen
    rebecca allen on

    This is a great challenge. My practice of simplicity starts with my purpose...simple purpose to be kind to me and offer myself compassion so I can extend it to others. Everything can flow from that. Simply, but not easy. I am inspired by your plastics challenge. And I love the pantry challenge, Cameron! Yay for inspiring posts, classic minimalists, focusing on the essentials and the power of no. Thanks, Cheryl.

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