Every month at Holstee I get the chance to dive into tons of great research, essays, poems, and writings about our themes in order to compile our monthly guides.

This month, guided by some of our core thinkers and writers here at Holstee (including Leo Babauta, Bruce Lee, Wisdom Library, Lao Tzu, and Henry David Thoreau), these are just a few important takeaways from our theme of Simplicity.

1. Honor what matters most.

We kicked off this month’s Simplicity Guide by reflecting on the physical things in our lives that are most important to us (by imagining a scenario in which we lose everything else). This exercise can lend some clarity on not just the things that are essential in our lives, but how we might want to honor them differently.

When I was 13 years old my aunt gifted me her violin, the instrument I first learned to play music on and one of my most precious belongings. While it means a great deal to me, it has remained tucked away for years now. I don’t need to play it every day, but keeping it somewhere that I’ll see it often and picking it up every once in a while does it way more justice than letting it gather dust under my bed. That’s our challenge this month, to appreciate the things that mean the most to us, to share the stories of why they’re important, and put them to good use.

We consider the things in our lives that are most meaningful in this month’s Simplicity Guide.

2. What is enough time?

How often do you find yourself at the end of the day or week, placing your head on your pillow, totally at ease with what you accomplished? For me, the answer is almost never. That all-too-common feeling of not having enough time to accomplish everything is what Leo Babauta calls the Time-Scarcity Demon. One solution, he notes, is to try and do less, to cut out what is truly nonessential (easier said than done).

But, he writes that truly mastering the Time-Scarcity Demon only comes from a shift in mindset, and one of the ways we can do so is by understanding how this ceaseless wanting to do and have more is a form of greed. This may seem a little harsh, but...

3. Generosity, the antidote to greed. 

In the Buddhist tradition, one of the ways we can combat greed (lobha) is with generosity (dāna), a practice in which we release attachment to material things and outcomes. What would it look like if we were more generous with our time and energy, if we were open, active participants, good listeners, and truly live in the present moment? To me, that shift in mindset would be incredibly powerful.

Dive deeper into Leo Babauta’s Time-Scarcity Demon and the traditions of lobha and dāna in our Curated Resources for this month.

4. Our own expression of simplicity.

The theme of Simplicity always feels a little tricky to tackle each year because there isn’t one way to live simply, or at least I don’t think there is. For some, it may mean clearing the physical clutter around us, for others, taking an honest look at how we spend our time. Simplicity could mean slowing down, getting back to basics, saving instead of spending, eating more fruit and less processed foods, spending time at a cabin in the woods (like the one in our Simplicity Artwork 🎨) or saying no to additional time commitments.

Which area of your life could use some simplicity?

5. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard.

Especially in busier periods of life, it can be easy to fall into living somewhat on auto-pilot, with work, family, health, friends, and other responsibilities filling so much of our time each day. I certainly struggle with this. But when we take an honest look at how we actually fill our days, hour-by-hour, we can gain clarity on what is valuable to us and what is less essential. 


Living just a little more simply this month,

Jennifer Lioy
Creative and Community Lead, Holstee

P.S. Holstee Members 👋: Don’t forget to check out this month’s theme page to access all of our great resources and keep simplicity front of mind this month!  

Love to write?

Every month we select a few writers to help us explore what it means to live more fully and mindfully. Reach out to write write@holstee.com to learn more about contributing.

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This article is part of our series on the theme of Simplicity.

EXPLORE Simplicity

Our Themes

Distilled from our Manifesto, positive psychology, the science of mindfulness, and ancient philosophic studies we have identified twelve themes core to living both fully and mindfully. We mapped these twelve themes to each of the twelve months in a year. Together with our community we explore one each month.

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