The end of the year is an orgy of consumption; work parties, family gatherings, shopping and a festival of excess. Add in the chaos of crazy weather, travel and seasonal illness… it can be downright exhausting!

That’s why the New Year is a perfect time to return to simplicity.

Just the word sounds delicious, light and sweet on the tongue: Sim-pliss-itee.

Thoreau said it best: “Simplify, simplify.” Walden was one of my favorite books when I discovered it as a teen. The wisdom within those pages served as a guide while I shaped my life. Paring down to just essentials. Examining what’s really important.

I enjoy reading bedtime stories, and Walden is my current selection. I’ve been reading it on the Kindle, which my sister gave me for Christmas. (Best sister ever!)

This new tool afforded me an enormous shift toward simplicity. For years I’ve attempted to pare down my book collection. Books are heavy. Every time I relocate, which is frequently, I’m reminded how many I have.

Ninety-five percent of them I will never read again. It seems foolish to covet such unwieldy objects. But like lots of people, I have an emotional attachment to my books.

The Kindle weighs less than my cell phone and takes up less space than a paperback. Its size and the availability of my favorite books in digital form helped me let go of that attachment.

I desired simplicity more than I desired the chronic maintenance of a seldom-used library.

So I boxed up nearly all my books and sold them at the local book store. It was an emotional experience. At first I got panicky, and the loss felt like a severed limb.

But when I returned home and surveyed all the fabulous empty space, I felt suddenly free. I was able to get rid of three book shelves. That’s no small fact when you live in a 300 sq. ft. apartment!

The release was intoxicating.

It was so great, in fact, that I did the same thing with all my CDs and DVDs.

While this simplification was literal and tangible, I’ve been enjoying simplicity in other forms lately as well.

Eliminating obligations that no longer feel good to me. Getting rid of habits that clutter my mental landscape. Simplifying communication, consumption, input.

So simplicity is not just for the home and workspace anymore.

You can simplify your head, your schedule, your wardrobe, your finances, your diet. Even small simplification efforts create space. Space is soothing when you’re overwhelmed or depleted.

  • What in your life could use some simplifying?
  • Is your home uncluttered and comforting?
  • Do you absolutely love all the activities you’ve signed up for?
  • Do all your habits and thoughts support the life you’d like to live?

If not, think about what you could simplify. Free up some room.

Empty space can be filled with something you truly love. Or you can leave it deliciously free and revel in its bare simplicity.

The choice is yours.