5 Lessons On Simple Living

Photo: Sean Brison

“It is life near the bone where it is sweetest” -Henry David Thoreau

I read a book called Walden. It’s a memoir written by Henry David Thoreau over 150 years ago. It recounts the two years he lived alone in the woods in a house he built. He was a poet, philosopher, naturalist and dissident. Many consider that book a manual on self-reliance, simplicity and spiritual awakening.

Whenever I hear someone ask how they can make their life simpler I think of Thoreau and that book.

It’s the antidote to combating the noise that surrounds us daily. It’s principles are timeless. And just as applicable now as they were in 1854.

What follows are lessons learned on simple living and how you can apply them to your life.

Tune out the noise. If only for five minutes. Quiet minds are where thoughts blossom. Silence your phone. Silence your email. Turn off your notifications. Life will go on.

In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex.

Your ability to quiet the mind is proportionate to the amount of deep work you’re able to put out. Fewer distractions equals greater creative output. Be on your time. Not someone else’s. Be proactive not reactive. That’s how you get things done.

We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.

Refresh your brain and escape the routine. Experience new things. Remind yourself that you’re a human being. We get stuck doing the same thing day in and day out. We forget how to enjoy life. Go to a museum. Shop at a farmer’s market. Do something the exact opposite of the way you’d normally do it. If you’re right handed try eating and writing with your left hand for a day.

A man will go considerably out of his way to pick up a silver dollar; but here are golden words, which the wisest men of antiquity have uttered… and yet we learn to read only as far as easy reading… we should be as good as the worthies of antiquity.

Education doesn’t stop just because you graduated high school. Or college. Or grad school. Read above your level. You’re of greater value to mankind the more knowledgable you are. Have an impact on those around you. Start by improving yourself. The world will follow. Be irreplaceable. This will increase your earning power too.

We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us.

Quit multitasking. Juggling’s better left at the circus. Be in the moment. With your spouse. Your kids. Your friends. Give them your full attention. Strengthen those relationships. They bear the sweetest fruit.

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Have a clear vision. Design the life you want to live and move forward. Imperfectly at times but always forward. Step by step. Whichever life seems most fitting to you. Chisel away at the sculpture your’e creating for yourself. Maybe you need to rethink your job, the place you live or the person you live with.

Don’t get lost in the details. Less is always more. As Thoreau says, “Let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand.”

It may be difficult to implement all of these things. Perhaps you’re a high profile attorney, a CEO or a single parent working 40+ hours a week. Just try one of them. Take a time out. For a day. An hour. Five minutes. Don’t forget to breathe.

I make my life rich by making my wants few.