Although no creator can be identified for establishing National Simplicity Day, the holiday falls on famed transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau’s birthday. Thoreau (July 12, 1817– May 6, 1862) was an author, naturalist, philosopher, and historian. His famous novel, Walden, is a reflection of simple living in natural surroundings. Today, as our lives seem busier than ever, National Simplicity Day (July 12) is an opportunity to declutter and eliminate the necessary burdens that weigh us down.
Sounds…simple, right? But if it were easy, we wouldn’t have the infamous phrase, “Keep It Simple, Stupid” in heavy rotation.
Here are 10 ways to simplify your life and celebrate National Simplicity Day:
1. Go outside.
This seems like one that Thoreau would be sure to agree with me on. I know it’s hot, humid, and there are bugs out there, but maybe you step outside in the early morning hours. Maybe you open your eyes and see a flower you never noticed in your neighbor’s flower bed. Maybe you close your eyes and hear birds chirping, and you don’t recall the last time you saw a bird in the tree in your yard. Kids are so good at pointing funny shaped clouds out in the sky. When is the last time you looked up to notice?
2. Clean out your closet.
This is always a daunting task to me because I have so. much. stuff. But you might find something you forgot you had (guilty!). After a good clean out, you’ll know exactly where something is every time you go into your closet—that’s some Marie Kondo joy for sure. As a bonus, your unneeded items can bless someone in our community. I can tell you for a fact that your donated items can directly benefit the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County if you drop off at one of the many trailer locations throughout Collin County (or schedule a porch pickup). For more information, click here.
3. Declutter your purse.
If you’re strapped for time and cleaning out a closet is too overwhelming, clean out your purse or your car. Discard the receipts you don’t need and the gum wrappers buried deep down in the pockets or crevices of your backseats.
4. Turn it down.
Speaking of the car, embrace silence. I know we all have our favorite podcasts, and music can definitely be part of a simple lifestyle, but turn it off. Allow yourself the space to be an observer—of your surroundings and/or your thoughts.
While you’re at it, unplug from your devices. A social media detox may be impossible with your job or your family’s schedule, but set aside some times where you and everyone in your family is screen-less. Being present is a practice, and it is easier if you can eliminate some of the distractions and competitors for your attention.
6. Write a note.
A few years ago, I committed to sending three handwritten notes a week to people in my life. I choose three people on Sunday, and the notes are stamped and ready to go on Monday morning. Most of the time, I write something I love about the recipient or a great memory we share together. It doesn’t have to be long or fancy, and you don’t need “a reason” to write to them.
When kids have nothing to do at a restaurant and you’re waiting for food or company, what do they get? Crayons and a piece of paper. Allow yourself to draw without intention and see what masterpieces you can create.
8. Drink water.
I know you hear it all the time. You may even have one of these water bottles that keeps you accountable throughout the day. Hydration matters, and not just in the summer in Texas. Dehydration is serious and completely avoidable if you will drink your water! A good rule of thumb is to aim to drink as many ounces as half of your body weight.
9. Pet a dog (or cat, rabbit, guinea pig, etc.).
This one is new to me as we have just added a new furry member to our family. Our Goldendoodle, Buttercup, loves to be loved, as I say. She will sit with you as long as you will pet her, and if you stop petting her, she’ll nudge her nose under your hand until you get the hint. There’s something calming and certainly simple about petting a dog, and it reminds me how far a simple act can go for humans and animals, alike!
The simplest act of all and sometimes the hardest to practice. There are a lot of great techniques to help you breathe with intention. Honestly, your kids may be your best resource! My children have taught me “Bunny Breathing” which they learned at school!
What small steps can you take to simplify your life? What would you add to this list as a way to practice and embrace more simple living? Just don’t overcomplicate it.
“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity…we are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.” -Henry David Thoreau