Ten ways to celebrate National Simplicity Day

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National Simplicity Day

When was the last time you stopped to smell the roses? Yesterday? Last week? Or so long ago you can’t really remember?

Have you EVER stopped to smell the roses? Or is the thought of switching off from daily life, unplugging from the internet and social media, something that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy?

Then it’s time you heard about National Simplicity Day!

On July 12th, many people will celebrate National Simplicity Day – the birthday of Henry David Thoreau, an American philosopher, naturalist, and ardent advocate for simple living. They will switch off their mobiles and electronic devices; ignore their emails and purposely forget where they put the TV remote, in favour of a simpler, more natural lifestyle, devoid of distractions and the unnecessary ‘junk’ that doesn’t make them happy!

And their challenge to you? Dare you do the same?

Thoreau was born in 1817 in a time that many of us today would already consider ‘simpler’, yet even then, Thoreau and his friend and mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, looked critically at what they saw as the ‘trappings’ of society at that time, and sought happiness by returning to nature and a more simple way of life. What they would make of today’s fast-paced, global, 24/7 economy is anyone’s guess, but it’s a pretty safe bet, that they would not be impressed!

For the real question is not how much our country’s GDP is; or the current level of inflation or employment; but rather “are we really happy?”

The answer to this question is much more complex than quantifying the number of people in work, but truthfully, is immeasurably more important! Thoreau believed that the happiness that people sought, was not to be found in acquiring more and more material ‘things’, but rather in connecting with nature and thereby appreciating the essence of all things. He is primarily remembered for his book “Walden” – a reflection of living simply in the natural surroundings of Walden Pond, where he spent just over 2 years living in a cabin in the woods.

National Simplicity Day is not advocating people become a hermit living in the woods, but it does suggest re-evaluating the things currently in your life and focusing on the really simple things which are ultimately the most important things to you.

According to a report from the communications regulator, Ofcom, (March 2014), the average UK adult spends 8 hours and 41 minutes every day, glued to some sort of screen.

Other studies have found that in young people, heavy social media use may be harmful for their mental health. Thoreau himself said: “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.” So was he deluded, or just way ahead of his time? Why not use this July 12th
to find out for yourself, your staff and the children in your care?

How to simplify your life for the day

Challenge yourself and your friends and family to do the following:

  • Unplug from the internet and technology.
  • Switch off your mobile phones – people can leave a message.
  • Disconnect from other electronics such as tablets, game consoles and TV.
  • Don’t use a ready meal or microwave to cook your food.
  • Give up your regular routine in favour of something different.

What to do instead

  1. Go out and appreciate the natural world around you; be that the woods, the park, a beach, or a lake.
  2. Take some time out to meditate – sit quietly and try to switch off the ‘noise’ in your head – try 10-15 minutes to start with.
  3. Practice some mindfulness – sit quietly and notice how your body feels in the moment.
  4. Cook your meal from scratch, organic if possible – without the use of a microwave.
  5. Cuddle your children/family more.
  6. Read a book.
  7. Write a letter to someone saying you love them.
  8. Volunteer for a good cause.
  9. Read some of Thoreau’s books or essays.
  10. Declutter your house.

Passing this on to our children 

Mindfulness and simplicity practices are not just for adults – in fact, many would argue that it is more important than ever that we teach the children in our care, how to relax, switch off and appreciate the simple things in life.

A recent major study of children and young people’s mental health found an increase in mental health disorders in children aged 5–19, largely driven by an increase in emotional disorders, (anxiety and depression): up from 3.9% in 2004, to 5.8% in 2017 [1]

In the 2–4-year-old bracket, 5.5% of children were reported to have a mental disorder, and pre-school children living the poorest third of households, were more likely to have a mental disorder (8.9%) compared to pre-school children in households with a higher income (4.0%). [2]

Mindfulness practices, on the other hand, have been shown to have significant positive effects on mental health outcomes such as mindfulness, executive functioning, attention, depression, anxiety/stress and negative behaviours. [3]

So why not introduce some simplicity into your own children’s day? Try some of the following things and see how much calmer you and the children feel:

  1. Remove electronics from the setting for the day – encourage children to use their imaginations rather than rely on electronic stimuli.
  2. Allocate areas of your house as a ‘quiet or reflective zone’ where children can sit and be quiet and/or still.
  3. Try some simple yoga poses or get the children to lie on the floor and relax, thinking only about how their body feels.
  4. Dedicate time to playing some calming music and ask your children to just sit and listen to it with their eyes closed.
  5. Run through some mindfulness ideas with them. You can find some excellent ideas and resources here.

Whatever you do, remember those roses and have a simply fantastic day!

“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

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Posted in Children, Culture, Family Life and tagged .

Hi. I'm Gail and I'm a teacher, coach, writer and blogger who has been involved with self-development and the performing arts for over 30 years. I'm passionate about helping people to develop their full potential and I've studied education, the law of attraction, personal development and NLP which I write about on this site.

I love working with people of all ages and backgrounds and truly believe that we are all unique, unlimited creative beings who can do wonderful things with a positive attitude and spiritual outlook on life.

Here's to your continued success.

Gail

4 Comments

  1. Here we meet again, Gail!
    The ability to balance work and happiness is one of the most difficult things one has to endure during our lifetime! If the concept of work is relatively easy to understand the one of happiness is not always consensual.
    Truth be told I’ve never heard of Simplicity Day… but I’ll accept the challenge and try to simplify at least some of my days from now on. Your tips are great!
    Thanks for sharing and be happy!

    • Hello again, Antonio. I’m glad you’re going to take up the challenge and try some of the ideas to simplify some parts of your life as part of National Simplicity Day. I’d love to hear how you get on and whether simplifying a few things makes you feel happier. Life is all about following your bliss, so I wish you all the best. Gail

  2. Hi! Wow, this is interesting but challenging too. I have not heard of the national simplicity day, maybe because I’m not in America, but I think it was a great idea after all. I also would like to celebrate it too. I will try all you have said here and make my life as simple as I can that day. And hey! 12th July is around the corner. We shall see a life full of nature and simplicity. Thanks for sharing this amazing piece of writing with us.

    • Hi again Kokontala and thanks for reading my article. I’m so glad you like it. Simplicity is one of the things we are starting to remember and could be seen as one of the better things to come out of the pandemic. We are all starting now to re-evaluate what is important and realising that it’s not the ‘stuff’ we have, but our connection to others and the planet. Have a great day. Let me know how you get on on 12th July too. 

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