Did you know that next Friday, 12 July is National Simplicity Day?
I’ve been a fan
of simplicity for a long time, believing that we as humans – and certainly
myself as an individual – can have a great tendency to overcomplicate things.
I think this is
at least in part due to our brain’s negative bias – its need to always be on
the lookout for things that could potentially do us harm. As a result, it comes up with all sorts of
scenarios of what could happen, or why something is happening or why that
person is looking at me that way… Our
imaginations run riot with complex and convoluted permutations – not just one,
but several for each scenario. It’s no
wonder that we think life is multi-layered and difficult to understand!
But when we
relax and go with the flow, it usually turns out that things were actually much
easier – and simpler – than we’d thought.
At the very least, it means that there is only one way in which things
play out, not the many possibilities that we’d imagined in our heads.
So I’m all for
getting back to simplicity!
I love Nature
and what it can teach us about keeping things simple. On the surface it might look complex, but in
reality it’s often a simple pattern that repeats itself many times. The deeper we look, the simpler it becomes.
Animals too can
help us, because they generally live very much in the present, concerned with
the basic needs of eating, drinking, finding shelter and the continuation of
their genes. They don’t worry about
tomorrow or last week or about what their herd or pack mate is thinking about
them. They mostly go through their day
just Being. This allows them to be
mindful and grounded because their minds aren’t distracted by anxious thoughts
Of course it
also means that they aren’t as creative as humans and our brains obviously have
an important role to play in this tapestry of Life, but I think we often get
too caught up in thought patterns that don’t support our wellbeing and so it’s
a good idea to take stock from time to time in order to check in with how we’re
feeling and to make sure that we’re keeping a healthy balance.
This is some
information I found on why this National Day was started:
National Simplicity Day was founded in honour of Henry David Thoreau, who was born on July 12, 1817. Thoreau was an advocate of living simply and wrote a number of well-known books on the subject.
In the complicated world that we inhabit today where mobile phones, laptops and other modern day gadgets mean that we very rarely experience true peace and quiet to gather our thoughts, what better excuse to leave the technology at home and experience the feeling of truly being in the moment.
initially wrote this blog early last week, but then something happened on
Thursday which prompted me to write this short edit. A friend that I deeply respect, told me that
she felt I wasn’t being honest with myself about my responsibility in the
situation I find myself with Dax, and that I was placing the blame on other
people. I would therefore like to print
an apology for anything I’ve said that has come across in this way. It was not my intention.
responsibility, this has made me think of the difference between ‘taking responsibility’ (in an empowering
way that leads to action) versus ‘taking
the blame’ – which is what, in hindsight, I think I was actually doing, leaving
me feeling overwhelmed and generally powerless.
I have recognised that this is something I need to address and so have
begun to take steps in this. This has
then enabled me to look more openly and closely at what’s been happening with
Dax and to take more constructive action in this too.
And now, back to my blog:
week I wrote about how I’ve been learning to bend so that I don’t break. A further step in this lesson for me is to
practice being able to ‘dance in the rain’ – ie, not to wish that there were no
storms in life, but rather to celebrate them, knowing that they bring valuable
teaching and that even when times are tough, I can still dance and make the
most of every moment. It’s also about
being able to be present with whatever is happening in the moment and to be comfortable,
even with being uncomfortable.
Getting to this point takes time and practice. We rarely manage it in any sustainable way the first time! But, like the baby learning to take its first steps, it’s a matter of getting up, dusting ourselves off and trying again.
all, that’s what life’s really about, isn’t it – experimenting, trying, finding
out what works and what doesn’t, repeating the former and discarding the latter
and continually refining and adapting.
When we make decisions and choices, we might think that we’re doing so from a purely logical, rational, analytical perspective but I’ve come to realise that there’s always an emotional element on some level. This is true for the simplest of choices, such as what we’re going to wear on a particular day, to what’s for dinner, to what car we want to buy. It’s even more true when we consider our responses to situations. These are determined by our thoughts and beliefs which are strongly coloured by our past experiences and our emotional state:
every situation, when we react rather
than make a conscious choice, we are
doing what we think will make us feel better / safer in that situation. However, when our perception is coloured by
fearful past experiences, these decisions will not help us to move forward. They can end up being a form of self-sabotage.
is why, when we want to grow, we need to become curious about what is
motivating our choices. To do this, we
need to develop our ‘emotional intelligence’ in order to gain a greater
understanding of what’s going on inside.
It can be a real challenge to face up to the things that we don’t like
about ourselves – the things that we don’t want others to see – and to be open
and honest about them. But when we can
do this with self-forgiveness and self-compassion it can be a very liberating
experience! Not only that, but it
enables us to support others in developing the same skills and so allow them to
find that same freedom.
imagine how wonderful that could feel:
to no longer be held by fear
to be free to experience the fullness of love, joy and
to be fully your self,
no longer needing to wear any masks
feel fully alive!
Of course, life still has its ups and downs. It still seems to throw us curve balls to keep us on our toes! But when we can learn to bend and to dance in the rain, we are much more able to adapt, flex and flow with these ‘plot twists’. We have greater clarity and insight on our own responses – and after all, these are the only things we have any control over.
It was very difficult for me to face the fact that we’d lost our
field shelter when it was destroyed by the recent storms. There was the financial pain – it had cost
about £4,000.00 and we can’t afford to replace it – and the thought of all the
wasted time and effort that my wonderful husband had put in to building it and
making it – we thought – storm safe. Not
only that, but I worried about the horses: their safety when it went over and
what they were now going to do for shelter.
Then I decided to look at the situation from a different
angle. Yes, we’d lost a lot of money,
but everyone was safe, and no-one had been injured, which was the most
Obviously, we had tried to stand against the force of Nature,
rather than go with it, and hadn’t realised how strong the winds could get in
that part of the field. So how might we
do things differently?
I looked around at the resources that we have here. The house is situated on a lower level than
the fields and between them there is an area of ‘unused’ land – rough grasses,
gorse bushes and some trees. It had
always been my plan to open this up to the horses and as I looked at it with
fresh eyes, I realised that there is a lot of natural shelter there, from trees
and the contours of the land.
So now I’m looking into making this area secure so that the
horses can access this natural
shelter. It will also provide them with
additional, interesting places to explore.
I’ve also ordered some Willow, to see if I can create a living
shelter for them. If it’s successful it
will have many benefits, including roots to further stabilise the land and drink
up some of the water which makes that part of the field a quagmire in the
winter. It will provide shoots that the
horses can nibble on – as long as they don’t eat until there’s nothing
left! Time will tell on that one…
This is what we hope to achieve:
If you’ve ever tried to create something like this, I’d be really interested to hear from you about how it went, and any tips that you can share!
If any of this has resonated with you and you’d like to learn more about developing your own emotional intelligence and resilience, and how to feel your way to the choices that are right for you, you might be interested in attending one of my workshops on how to ‘Feel Your Way from Stress into Flow’. Contact me for further details: