I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately,
to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it
had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I
wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life. -- Henry David
OK, it's unlikely you're going to make like Thoreau and move to
the woods. Heck, you probably don't even have time for a walk in the
woods. If that's the case, though, that may very well mean that it's time to
simplify your life. In so doing, you may just save your health -- and your
sanity (not to mention actually having time to take that walk).
You worked hard on making better eating choices and exercising. And for a
few weeks or maybe a few months, you did well. You lost weight, felt better,
and were sure that this time, your new and improved health habits were
here to stay.
But then there was a big project at work that had you ordering in pizza at
your desk rather than going out for a low-calorie lunch. Your children needed
extra help with their homework, so your evening walks got put on the back
burner. And before you know it,...
Erin Bocherer and her husband are doing just that. "Our New
Year's resolution was to simplify our life as much as possible to reduce
stress," says Bocherer, an advertising account supervisor.
This is what the Bocherers have been doing:
Online banking. "This limits post office drop-offs and reduces the time
and money spent on stamps and licking envelopes," says Bocherer. "It
also enables me to schedule automatic payments each month, which saves several
hours of our time because we no longer need to write out bills and balance the
Hiring a cleaning service every three weeks. "We still clean, but they
handle the nitty-gritty, time-consuming activities that seemed to fill our
weekends," says Bocherer.
Hiring a nanny. Yes, this is expensive, but it saves the Bocherers two
hours a day in the car dropping off and picking up their son at daycare.
"It enables me to spend more quality time with my son (and with my daughter
when she is born in May)," says Bocherer.
Reducing debt. "Debt is one of our biggest stresses that never seems to
end," says Bocherer. By creating a strict, yet manageable budget, and
focusing on paying off their debt, the Bocherers say they are creating a
feeling of accomplishment.
Simplicity Movement Taking Hold
The Bocherers are not alone in their efforts to cut the stress
from their life. Browse your favorite newsstand or bookstore and you'll see
evidence of an anti-stress movement taking hold in this country. Generally
known as "voluntary simplicity," or the "simplicity movement,"
the need many of us see for a less stressful, more meaningful life is reflected
in magazines, books, and web sites devoted to simplifying your life, whether
that means "de-cluttering" your home, "downsizing" your career
ambitions, or living off the land.
About 5% to 7% of adults in the U.S. are pursuing some form of
voluntary simplicity, according to Gerald Celente, director of the Trends
Research Institute in New York. The contemporary voluntary simplicity movement
began in 1981 with the publication of Duane Elgin's book, Voluntary
Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich.
Since then, dozens of books, national magazines, web sites, and grassroots
"simplicity circles" have sprung up to offer support and share ideas
for those interested in scaling back.