Thoreau Simplify

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
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4nursebee
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Thoreau Simplify

Post by 4nursebee » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:51 am

One of those desk calendars with quotes on it got me thinking, basically it had the following kind of messages on it:

"Men have become the tools of their tools."
Simple: People are being controlled by the things they work with.
"Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify."
Simple: Our life is wasted in many small pieces by spending time on small things. Make things simple. Make things simple.

There have been some threads here along the lines of Swedish death cleaning that have similar themes.

I like the idea of simplifying my life. In what ways have you simplified yours? What has worked or held meaning? What did not work?
Ignoring media some has helped.
No real cell phone, just an emergency device.
Too much time on computer likely.
Recognizing I cant do all hobbies has helped.

Thanks for your thoughts!
4nursebee

fru-gal
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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by fru-gal » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:10 am

Getting rid of stuff. I did a major pass through decades of belongings when I moved, and have made several more passes since then. Still not finished. I don't hold with the Marie whatshername method as there's a difference between cleaning out things and OCD, imho.

Also organizing records. My tax, financial, will, etc. records are a beauty to behold :-)

The major things I still have to do are organizing and labeling many shoeboxes of family photos and reducing Internet time.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by pennywise » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:45 am

fru-gal wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:10 am
Getting rid of stuff. I did a major pass through decades of belongings when I moved, and have made several more passes since then. Still not finished.
We are doing the same and finding the same. It was a revelation when we bought a vacation home, stocked it with the basics, and realized how calming it was to be in a place that was not filled with all the myriad stuff that constitute clutter: household and decor items, papers etc.

And now a few years later as we prepare our primary home for sale and a move to live permanently in the vacation property we are ruthless in paring down possessions. A primary goal is that there will be nothing brought to our new residence that won't be used or enjoyed regularly---no boxes of stuff we couldn't decide what to do with, no stacks of paper to be filed 'later' etc.

My husband calls this a slow motion move because it takes a lot of time to sort through and decide what to do with a house full of 30 years of family life! But it feels great to be eliminating so much that we don't use, need or want.

So, simplify=eliminate in our house these days too.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by bearcub » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:56 am

I have always lived below my means. Parents lived through depression. Shined shoes at 10. Then got paper route till end of H.S. At 10 my mum walked me down to the corner bank to open my own account. 20$ week in bank. 5$ for me to spend. Always put at least matching in 401k. More as I got older. Maxed it out + opened ROTH IRA contributed the most. Purchased bi-weekly EE Savings bonds through my job. Job paid college tuition. Retired at 50 with house payed off. Payed cash for cars. Last one was 17yrs.old. One I have today is 15. I adopted a minimalist lifestyle which I enjoy. I will never own a vineyard or travel the world but I am pretty happy. Mistake was to waste to much money on booze + sports when younger. Don"t need many toys to enjoy life. Best wishes.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by Nowizard » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:58 am

Not being on Facebook and not downloading multiple apps on a smartphone after resisting obtaining one for several years. No Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Paying little or no attention to the current trends in clothing or other, current trends such as changing paint colors in a home from the recent grey to the current white, etc. Now, selling home and downsizing. Basically, if something works, use it until it does not. For example, a person installing window blinds recently forgot his electric drill and had never even seen a hand drill with a rotating wheel. Eliminate clutter, as others mentioned.

Tim

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by autopeep » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:05 am

I am all for simplification and have no great love of materialism. That said, Thoreau always struck me as a hypocrite. A cultural elite who retreated to "a simple life" as a gimmicky book premise. :twisted:

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by nisiprius » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:00 am

Oddly enough, I just got finished reading Walden: or, Life in the Woods from beginning to end--well, skimming a bit in places--for the first time. As is so often the case, you get something quite different from reading it than from reading about it and reading a few famous quotations.

There are several points that struck me.

One of the things I liked best about it is that he only simplifies down to a point. He clearly enjoys and values living in a place that is in-between. He is not living in town, but he is certainly not living in untouched wilderness either, and he positively enjoys hearing the train come through, meeting and talking to people who have come to the woods for fishing, or for the rather-large-scale industrial process of ice-harvesting. He enjoys evidence of harmless trespassers investigating his cottage.

His general message seems applicable today. He thinks that we work too much, earn too much money, spend too much, and buy too many things with it. His years at Walden Pond were an experiment to see how far he could reduce things. He concluded that the optimum for him... for a few years... was at a much lower point, and that he was happier and better off working less, earning less, spending less, and buying less. So far so good.

The actual economics of his experiment couldn't be easily duplicated today at Concord. I need to find out more about this, particularly about land-use law at the time. The literal economics and lifestyle seemed to be based on Walden being basically a commons, a large area of unowned land that people could, apparently, legally use without restriction as long as they weren't interfering much with each other. Do you understand how the ice-harvesting worked? Did the ice company own anything, did they have an exclusive license or concession? Or was there just so much ice that there was plenty to go around for anybody who wanted to make a business of harvesting it?

This, in turn, depends on undeveloped land being plentiful and the number of people wanting to use it being few. Nowadays, you couldn't do this because basically every square inch of landed is owned. If it's not owned privately, with fences and "no trespassing" signs, it is owned by a country recreation department or a private nature conservancy or the Department of the Interior, and its use is regulated. Land being what it is, it's hard to enforce the regulations perfectly and every few years you see newspaper stories about "a hermit" living in some town forest, but it is not legal, and such "hermits" have to conceal themselves and certainly couldn't plant "two acres and a half of light and sandy soil near it chiefly with beans, but also a small part with potatoes, corn, peas, and turnips."

There's also more than a hint that his agricultural efforts might not be scalable or sustainable, and that the ease with which he was able to provide so much with such little work was partly good luck with a growing season. He says he didn't "manure" his fields, which makes one wonder how long it could have been kept up. I can't find it now, but somewhere he talks about experiencing what was basically a crop failure in his second year.

More important, his spiritual success depends on his having een a highly cultivated and educated man, and apparently having plenty of access to books even while living at Walden. This in turn assumes many decades of previous life spent in an environment "civilized" enough to sustain a Harvard College. And it also, of course, depends on his being a person for whom this life was suited. He may have made an important self-discovery in living for two years in a significantly simplified manner. I don't doubt him when he says
I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.
Nor is this rare, but it is limited to a certain personality type.

I'm not clear on his biography, but his life was varied and involved quite a bit of mechanical engineering, designing improvements in graphite-grinding machines and pencil-manufacturing machines, and this was probably something he needed to nourish his spirit just as much as two years in the woods.

The general tenor--we allow ourselves to be drawn too far into a world where everything is mediated by money exchange, much more than is good for us--seems sound enough, of course.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by livesoft » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:07 am

Thoreau also was not a particularly good woodsman. He let his camp fires burn down all the trees on mountain sides and took no precautions to not repeat that.
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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by knpstr » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:18 am

This thinking has been in vogue the last few years under the "minimalism movement". It is quite popular today.
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by nisiprius » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:30 am

If we're going to pile on, he may not have been a great physicist/limnologist, either. I do not believe his remark that
I inferred that the infinite number of minute bubbles which I had first seen against the under surface of the ice were now frozen in likewise, and that each, in its degree, had operated like a burning glass on the ice beneath to melt and rot it.
Air, having a lower index of refraction than ice, air bubbles could not act as "burning glasses," but would either disperse light or scatter it. Nor would ice, to the degree that it was transparent, absorb much energy from radiation.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by nisiprius » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:38 am

It is however interesting to contemplate that 1845, when Thoreau was at Walden... at a time when I'm having a little trouble understanding the general culture, life, and economics as it is so different from today's... is included in a range of years for which people claim to have accurate stock market data--data that is so quantitatively accurate that they can confirm the existence and measure the size of value and momentum premia in stocks in the days when Thoreau was inventing plumbago-grinding processes and measuring the depth of Walden Pond.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by 2015 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:32 pm

The single most important thing I have done to simplify life is to become a miser with my attention. Today, one's attention is one's time is one's life. Reading non-fiction books has replaced much of the time wasted previously. I have structured my investments, personal finance, and microeconomics in such as a way as to never have to read anything related to these fields as I believe it fails to ultimately add value.

The second most important thing I do is to discriminate between low and high value activities coupled with developing habits, routines, and rituals for all low value activities. Most of every important action I take serves as a leading indicator of meeting each quarter's goals that feed into my over arching goal of making retirement the most financially, materially, emotionally and psychologically fulfilling time of life.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by fru-gal » Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:33 pm

nisiprius wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:00 am

Do you understand how the ice-harvesting worked? Did the ice company own anything, did they have an exclusive license or concession? Or was there just so much ice that there was plenty to go around for anybody who wanted to make a business of harvesting it?
Scroll down to legalities:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_trade

signed,

old enough to remember ice being delivered and family having an ice box

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by nisiprius » Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:52 pm

fru-gal wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:33 pm
nisiprius wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:00 am

Do you understand how the ice-harvesting worked? Did the ice company own anything, did they have an exclusive license or concession? Or was there just so much ice that there was plenty to go around for anybody who wanted to make a business of harvesting it?
Scroll down to legalities:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_trade

signed,

old enough to remember ice being delivered and family having an ice box
:oops: I should have checked Wikipedia in the first place. But that makes it even more interesting, because a) the legal decision mentioned was in 1841, b) Thoreau lived at Walden Pond from summer of 1845 through the summer of 1847, c) Walden Pond and Fresh Pond were only twelve miles apart. So the decision for Fresh Pond probably applied to Walden Pond. He lived, Wikipedia and other sources say, "amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson." However, he talks about buying an existing cabin--which he knocked down and used as wood to build his own cabin.

Anyway, Thoreau's years at Walden sound as if they were almost exactly at the turning point when the US was in slow transition from self-sufficient farming to cash-crop farming.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by malabargold » Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:55 pm

Thoreau owed most of his ideas - not to mention
the land he lived on - to Emerson.

Simplify by going to the wellspring.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by J295 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:56 pm

Certainly the exterior modifications of one's life can help cultivate the soil for sprouting simplicity; however, I believe the most fertile place to plant and grow simplicity is from an internal field.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by Cycle » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:18 pm

Currently applying to a less prestigious job that I'll be able to bike to in 15-20 minutes. This will save me 40 minutes a day by not having to take the shuttle out to the fancy pants megacorp campus in the suburbs.

Live in a duplex, pretty small 2br/1ba unit. Too small to be anything other than a minimalist. Did a massive purge tho in 2018, got rid of many many tools, sports equipment, and other seldom used stuff. Downhill skis, snowboard, hockey gear, golf clubs... This stuff can be rented.

Having just 1 car and getting rid of all my gas and electric yard tools has eliminated the need for me to maintain this contraptions.
Never look back unless you are planning to go that way

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by alpenglow » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:21 pm

J295 wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:56 pm
Certainly the exterior modifications of one's life can help cultivate the soil for sprouting simplicity; however, I believe the most fertile place to plant and grow simplicity is from an internal field.
That's deep bro.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by Toons » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:45 pm

Simplicity has been my mantra since 1995.
Eliminate.
Free The Mind.
Breathe Deep.
Check Out The Blue Sky.
On Walden Pond,,a favorite.
:mrgreen:
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

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Thoreau Quotes

Post by Taylor Larimore » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:24 pm

Bogleheads:

Many years ago a friend gave me Henry Thoreau's book, "Walden." The book changed my life with ideas such as these:

"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."

"Goodness is the only investment that never fails.”

“The fault-finder will find fault even in paradise.”

“If a man doesn't keep pace with his companions, perhaps it's because he hears a different drummer.”

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that 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.”

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”

Thank you Mr. Thoreau!

Best wishes.
Taylor
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by Fallible » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:01 pm

I seem to have always been content with simpler things in life and I credit mainly parents and grandparents for that. I loved Walden and, in college, also read E.B. White's light but somewhat critical essay, Walden, along with Brooks Atkinson's essay, Thoreau.
John Bogle on his early road to low-cost indexing: "When a door closes, if you look long enough and hard enough, if you're strong enough, you'll find a window that opens."

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by jbranx » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:44 pm

Another Walden-like book series is the diaries of Harlan and Anne Hubbard, Kentucky artists and Thoreau admirers who spent forty-some years from the forties through the eighties living on the Ohio and Miss. Rivers in minimalist style. Remarkably, they spent the last half of their lives doing what Thoreau did for only two years. Best overall book on them is written by none other than Wendell Berry, "Harlan Hubbard: Life and Work," available on Amazon. "Shantyboat, a River Way of Life," is Hubbard's own story and a fascinating read in its own right. There is also a DVD of their life on Amazon and some of his other works. Remarkable reads because they lived like Thoreau during a period that most of us can identify with.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by Finridge » Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:33 am

2015 wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:32 pm
The single most important thing I have done to simplify life is to become a miser with my attention. Today, one's attention is one's time is one's life. Reading non-fiction books has replaced much of the time wasted previously. I have structured my investments, personal finance, and microeconomics in such as a way as to never have to read anything related to these fields as I believe it fails to ultimately add value.

The second most important thing I do is to discriminate between low and high value activities coupled with developing habits, routines, and rituals for all low value activities. Most of every important action I take serves as a leading indicator of meeting each quarter's goals that feed into my over arching goal of making retirement the most financially, materially, emotionally and psychologically fulfilling time of life.
+1000

The older I get, the more I regret the time wasted on the trivial.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by SuperGrafx » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:59 pm

While I could care less about Thoreau or what any famous author or celebrity thinks, I always found the following quote from Walden hilarious!

Thoreau on Fashion ---
‘We worship not the Graces… but Fashion. The head monkey at Paris puts on a traveler’s cap, and all the monkeys in America do the same.'

LOL!!!!
:D :D :D

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Re: Thoreau Quotes

Post by PinotGris » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:33 pm

Taylor Larimore wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:24 pm
Bogleheads:

Many years ago a friend gave me Henry Thoreau's book, "Walden." The book changed my life with ideas such as these:

“If a man doesn't keep pace with his companions, perhaps it's because he hears a different drummer.”
Thank you, Taylor. I have read Thoreau very sporadically and not with devotion but I know wonderful people I admire who aredevotees, including Gandhi who was inspired by him.
The bolded sentence I feel problematic for a man who was himself so peaceful. How can one be so sure the different drummer is striking the right rhythm? Perhaps that is why one needs to visit the silence of the woods, to hear him!
Last edited by PinotGris on Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by knpstr » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:33 pm

SuperGrafx wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:59 pm
While I could care less about Thoreau or what any famous author or celebrity thinks, I always found the following quote from Walden hilarious!
Just to be clear, that means you care what Thoreau or what any famous author or celebrity thinks.

If you don't care at all then you should say you "couldn't care less". For you can't care less because you already don't care at all.
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by StandingRock » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:37 pm

I wish we could get Thoreau to overhaul the tax code.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by PinotGris » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:41 pm

2015 wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:32 pm
The second most important thing I do is to discriminate between low and high value activities coupled with developing habits, routines, and rituals for all low value activities.
Can you explain the steps to achieve this? I like the concept.

Most of every important action I take serves as a leading indicator of meeting each quarter's goals that feed into my over arching goal of making retirement the most financially, materially, emotionally and psychologically fulfilling time of life.

Each quarter's goal? Sounds opposite of simplifying!

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by AstroJohn » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:46 pm

Cleaning up and simplifying has been a lifelong struggle between me and my wonderful spouse. She likes "things." While I have read and taken much of Thoreau to heart, my favorite quote is in the other direction.

"Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived."
--Anne Lamott

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by S&L1940 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:47 pm

fru-gal wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:10 am
The major things I still have to do are organizing and labeling many shoeboxes of family photos.
In our home that is the major challenge, photos

Three, and to some extent four, generations of photos from both our families
Some beyond identifying as all involved or those in the know are gone
How do you toss the forever anonymous photos from your past?
Don't it always seem to go * That you don't know what you've got * Till it's gone

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Re: Thoreau Quotes

Post by nisiprius » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:06 pm

As for quotations from Walden, I like this one, which seems particularly apropos to the age of Facebook:
We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.... We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the old world some weeks nearer to the new; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by Leemiller » Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:39 pm

I would highly recommend reading or listening to the Minimalists. I’m currently reading Everything that Remains - a memoir by the Minimalists. The point is not the lack of stuff but focus and clarifying where you want your energy spent. How you want to live your life. Downsizing or being frugal and minimalism are not the same thing in my mind even though they are often conflated.

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by 2015 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:29 pm

PinotGris wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:41 pm
2015 wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:32 pm
The second most important thing I do is to discriminate between low and high value activities coupled with developing habits, routines, and rituals for all low value activities.
Can you explain the steps to achieve this? I like the concept.

Most of every important action I take serves as a leading indicator of meeting each quarter's goals that feed into my over arching goal of making retirement the most financially, materially, emotionally and psychologically fulfilling time of life.

Each quarter's goal? Sounds opposite of simplifying!
It's actually more simple than it sounds, although it takes concentration during the creation of the routine or ritual. I've "habitualized" (admittedly, not a word) everything from laundry, to grocery shopping, to errands, to house cleaning (and many many many more). In my mind, these are all low value activities that serve only to support higher value outcomes. I've done this by paying attention to the steps involved in each task, committing them to memory and then going through the ritual when completing the lower value task.

Energy comes in four basic forms: physical, emotional, mental, and creative. If you believe that mental resources are scarce and the body seeks to preserve resources than you will understand the mind serves up all kinds of shortcuts to circumvent effective decision making. Physical energy, such as that expended during low value tasks, comes at the expense of mental and creative energy needed for high value outcomes. I expend as little energy as possible during low value tasks such as laundry so that I can preserve mental and creative energy for higher value outcomes such as the serendipity created when I recently found my dream retirement home. I could never have made this happen were I focused on lower value activities.

Incidentally, I view reading virtually everything written in the fields of investing, personal finance, and microeconomics as low value activities and have arranged my financial affairs so as not to have to be enmeshed in those fields.

There is a marked difference in a life with goals, quarterly or otherwise, and being without goals in the name of "simplicity". In my mind, simplicity does not preclude taking actions to be the most effective one can be.

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Re: Thoreau Quotes

Post by Fallible » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:35 pm

PinotGris wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:33 pm
Taylor Larimore wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:24 pm
Bogleheads:

Many years ago a friend gave me Henry Thoreau's book, "Walden." The book changed my life with ideas such as these:

“If a man doesn't keep pace with his companions, perhaps it's because he hears a different drummer.”
Thank you, Taylor. I have read Thoreau very sporadically and not with devotion but I know wonderful people I admire who aredevotees, including Gandhi who was inspired by him.
The bolded sentence I feel problematic for a man who was himself so peaceful. How can one be so sure the different drummer is striking the right rhythm? Perhaps that is why one needs to visit the silence of the woods, to hear him!
Here's all of the "different drummer" quote that may answer your question, i.e., you've probably already begun stepping to the "different" music you're hearing - and now just keep stepping:
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
John Bogle on his early road to low-cost indexing: "When a door closes, if you look long enough and hard enough, if you're strong enough, you'll find a window that opens."

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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by dvoisinet » Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:35 pm

Simplify, simplify. —H. D. THOREAU

One “simplify” would have sufficed. —RALPH WALDO EMERSON, IN RESPONSE

zeal
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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by zeal » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:31 pm

How I simplify:
  • Focus on the present... what I am doing, while I'm doing it. Or when I'm with others, focus on what we are doing, while we are doing it.
  • Get up at the same time daily--sleeping in is a waste of time. Within the first hour of waking, I stretch/loosen up, work out, eat a good breakfast, read a good book, & pray/meditate. If I do nothing right the rest of the day, I've already won.
  • Stay away from news/social media/advertisements as much as possible. If something important comes up, I'll just find out about it from someone else.
  • Regularly evaluate my possessions & get rid of things I no longer need. Replace if necessary.
  • Buy quality items and take good care of them so I don't have to buy a replacement any time soon.
  • Store things in a way that makes sense. When I use something, I put it back where I found it so it's always there when I need it.
These are things I've done all my life, so they are just habit. Maybe it doesn't look simple to you but it is simple to me.

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tooluser
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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by tooluser » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:44 pm

I am as One with the Mandelbrot set. It hugs me at every point.
The discovery of America, and that of a passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope, are the two greatest and most important events recorded in the history of mankind. -- Adam Smith, 1776

Caduceus
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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by Caduceus » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:02 am

I lead a fairly simple life. But I think a lot of it is probably genetic. If you are not the type of person who craves solitude, simplicity, etc., then I don't think Thoreau is going to be much of a successful model for a life well lived.

I don't find the internet problematic. I love reading for hours on the internet. But I don't have any social media accounts. No Facebook no Twitter, no Instagram, etc. I find that it's really mostly about people curating their lives and then presenting a highly idealized version of their life to other people in order to convey something about themselves.

My cellphone messaging is set to silent mode. I check it maybe three or four times throughout the day, but can go for a few days without checking it. Anything urgent - people know they need to call.

Rus In Urbe
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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by Rus In Urbe » Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:02 am

2015 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:29 pm

PinotGris wrote: ↑Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:41 pm
2015 wrote: ↑Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:32 pm
The second most important thing I do is to discriminate between low and high value activities coupled with developing habits, routines, and rituals for all low value activities.
Can you explain the steps to achieve this? I like the concept.

Most of every important action I take serves as a leading indicator of meeting each quarter's goals that feed into my over arching goal of making retirement the most financially, materially, emotionally and psychologically fulfilling time of life.

Each quarter's goal? Sounds opposite of simplifying!
It's actually more simple than it sounds, although it takes concentration during the creation of the routine or ritual. I've "habitualized" (admittedly, not a word) everything from laundry, to grocery shopping, to errands, to house cleaning (and many many many more). In my mind, these are all low value activities that serve only to support higher value outcomes. I've done this by paying attention to the steps involved in each task, committing them to memory and then going through the ritual when completing the lower value task.

Energy comes in four basic forms: physical, emotional, mental, and creative. If you believe that mental resources are scarce and the body seeks to preserve resources than you will understand the mind serves up all kinds of shortcuts to circumvent effective decision making. Physical energy, such as that expended during low value tasks, comes at the expense of mental and creative energy needed for high value outcomes. I expend as little energy as possible during low value tasks such as laundry so that I can preserve mental and creative energy for higher value outcomes such as the serendipity created when I recently found my dream retirement home. I could never have made this happen were I focused on lower value activities.

Incidentally, I view reading virtually everything written in the fields of investing, personal finance, and microeconomics as low value activities and have arranged my financial affairs so as not to have to be enmeshed in those fields.

There is a marked difference in a life with goals, quarterly or otherwise, and being without goals in the name of "simplicity". In my mind, simplicity does not preclude taking actions to be the most effective one can be.

For more on this kind of optimization (and simplification), I recommend Cal Newport's book, DEEP WORK. It makes many of the points written above.
I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money. ~Pablo Picasso

PinotGris
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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by PinotGris » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:29 am

Rus In Urbe wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:02 am
2015 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:29 pm

For more on this kind of optimization (and simplification), I recommend Cal Newport's book, DEEP WORK. It makes many of the points written above.
Thank you. Placed on hold at the library. I don't buy books any more unless I want to support that particular author, and then I keep it with the other books I cannot part with, gifts from those I love, or rare or difficult to find. Everything else I donate.

Cycle
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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by Cycle » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:25 pm

Caduceus wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:02 am
But I don't have any social media accounts. No Facebook no Twitter, no Instagram, etc. I find that it's really mostly about people curating their lives and then presenting a highly idealized version of their life to other people in order to convey something about themselves.
You realize internet forums are social media. You're describing your highly idealized version of your lifestyle and habits to random people on BHs. Hundreds of people may have read your post.

If I post something on Facebook, 50 family members and close friends can see it, and no one else.
Never look back unless you are planning to go that way

carol-brennan
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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by carol-brennan » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:36 pm

I like this excerpt from Walden, which echoes the "simplify" theme that recurs throughout the work:

I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that 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. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

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nisiprius
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Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by nisiprius » Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:10 pm

carol-brennan wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:36 pm
...If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them...
Yes, I actually noticed that line myself when reading Walden. It's interesting, because in every edition of A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Burton Malkiel, describing his stock-picking preferences, has said that he looks for "Castles in the air--but with a firm foundation." He attributes the line to Ibsen, "The Master Builder," and indeed it is there:Translation by Edmund Gosse and William Archer
SOLNESS.
...now tell me what it is—the loveliest thing in the world—that we two are to build together?
HILDA.
[Is silent a little while, then says with an indefinable expression in her eyes.] Castles in the air.
SOLNESS.
Castles in the air?
HILDA.
[Nods.] Castles in the air, yes! Do you know what sort of thing a castle in the air is?
SOLNESS.
It is the loveliest thing in the world, you say.
HILDA.
[Rises with vehemence, and makes a gesture of repulsion with her hand.] Yes, to be sure it is! Castles in the air—they are so easy to build, too—[looks scornfully at him]—especially for the builders who have a—a dizzy conscience.
SOLNESS.
[Rises.] After this day we two will build together, Hilda.
HILDA.
[With a half-dubious smile.] A real castle in the air?
SOLNESS.
Yes. One with a firm foundation under it.
So the question now arises: did Ibsen get it from Thoreau?
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

Finridge
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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by Finridge » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:01 pm

nisiprius wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:10 pm
carol-brennan wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:36 pm
...If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them...
Yes, I actually noticed that line myself when reading Walden. It's interesting, because in every edition of A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Burton Malkiel, describing his stock-picking preferences, has said that he looks for "Castles in the air--but with a firm foundation." He attributes the line to Ibsen, "The Master Builder," and indeed it is there:Translation by Edmund Gosse and William Archer
SOLNESS.
...now tell me what it is—the loveliest thing in the world—that we two are to build together?
HILDA.
[Is silent a little while, then says with an indefinable expression in her eyes.] Castles in the air.
SOLNESS.
Castles in the air?
HILDA.
[Nods.] Castles in the air, yes! Do you know what sort of thing a castle in the air is?
SOLNESS.
It is the loveliest thing in the world, you say.
HILDA.
[Rises with vehemence, and makes a gesture of repulsion with her hand.] Yes, to be sure it is! Castles in the air—they are so easy to build, too—[looks scornfully at him]—especially for the builders who have a—a dizzy conscience.
SOLNESS.
[Rises.] After this day we two will build together, Hilda.
HILDA.
[With a half-dubious smile.] A real castle in the air?
SOLNESS.
Yes. One with a firm foundation under it.
So the question now arises: did Ibsen get it from Thoreau?
Neither got it from the other. It was a phrase that was in use before either of them was born. Looks like Christopher Marlowe coined the phrase in his play, "The Tragicall History of Doctor Faustus" -- it's still in print today and read in English Literature courses. Then it in the mid-1700's it started becoming an idiom.

Check it out in the Google Ngram Viewer:

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?c ... ir%3B%2Cc0

Finridge
Posts: 659
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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by Finridge » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:08 pm

Finridge wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:01 pm
nisiprius wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:10 pm
carol-brennan wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:36 pm
...If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them...
Yes, I actually noticed that line myself when reading Walden. It's interesting, because in every edition of A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Burton Malkiel, describing his stock-picking preferences, has said that he looks for "Castles in the air--but with a firm foundation." He attributes the line to Ibsen, "The Master Builder," and indeed it is there:Translation by Edmund Gosse and William Archer
SOLNESS.
...now tell me what it is—the loveliest thing in the world—that we two are to build together?
HILDA.
[Is silent a little while, then says with an indefinable expression in her eyes.] Castles in the air.
SOLNESS.
Castles in the air?
HILDA.
[Nods.] Castles in the air, yes! Do you know what sort of thing a castle in the air is?
SOLNESS.
It is the loveliest thing in the world, you say.
HILDA.
[Rises with vehemence, and makes a gesture of repulsion with her hand.] Yes, to be sure it is! Castles in the air—they are so easy to build, too—[looks scornfully at him]—especially for the builders who have a—a dizzy conscience.
SOLNESS.
[Rises.] After this day we two will build together, Hilda.
HILDA.
[With a half-dubious smile.] A real castle in the air?
SOLNESS.
Yes. One with a firm foundation under it.
So the question now arises: did Ibsen get it from Thoreau?
Neither got it from the other. It was a phrase that was in use before either of them was born. Looks like Christopher Marlowe coined the phrase in his play, "The Tragicall History of Doctor Faustus" -- it's still in print today and read in English Literature courses. Then it in the mid-1700's it started becoming an idiom.

Check it out in the Google Ngram Viewer:

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?c ... ir%3B%2Cc0

"Neither got it from the other. It was a phrase that was in use before either of them was born. Looks like Christopher Marlowe coined the phrase in his play, "The Tragicall History of Doctor Faustus" -- it's still in print today and read in English Literature courses. Then it in the mid-1700's it started becoming an idiom.

Here is an example from 1799: "I should lose half my respect for the senatorial gown, and clerical wig, and declare that a bridge, or college, built by a lottery, was no better than a castle in the air."

https://books.google.com/books?id=6wzYS ... 22&f=false

dustinst22
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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by dustinst22 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:05 pm

Simplicity and optimization are things I strive for as well. These two go hand in hand, and it's beautiful to see a perfectly optimized and simple system.
Here have been some of my attempts:

1) Live in an area I can walk to anything needed.
2) One car, with low maintenance costs (Prius)
3) Small home, very low maintenance, and few possessions, only keep items we love. If you can tell, I hate maintenance.
4) Being vigilant about saying no. I don't like having too much on my calendar, and I resist adding anything to my calendar as much as possible. The more open my calendar the better. I can't stand meetings or scheduled calls especially. Of course, sometimes this seems to be a losing battle as my wife loves to have plans. Anything that takes up my time has to be worth it. We do a lot of travel, and this does require planning/calendar clutter. This is the one area I will bend.
5) Reduction of mail and spam. I've reduced my email to one account, and am continuously trying to reduce any spam. I hate physical mail, and do everything in my power to reduce it.
6) Along with the above, I've gotten rid of all paperwork in my home. Seriously, none. Also, zero physical books.
7) Consolidating all my investments I had in various accounts to one place. One brokerage, one checking/savings. All finances tied into one interface. Simple 3 fund portfolio.
8) Optimized and auto-set as much of my finances as possible so that I no longer have to think about it. Automate everything that can be reasonably automated.
9) 1 bag travel (Tom Bihn). I'm always trying to optimize and simplify my travel bag and get it as light as possible. Ultimate goal is a tiny backpack.
Last edited by dustinst22 on Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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nisiprius
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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by nisiprius » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:18 pm

Finridge wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:01 pm
Neither got it from the other. It was a phrase that was in use before either of them was born....
I'm not talking about the phrase "castles in the air."

I'm talking about the derived phrase "castles in the air--but with a firm foundation."

Incidentally, "castles in the air" might have been a reference to, or influenced by, a kind of complex mirage, like this:

Image

(Other natural but mysterious optical phenomena, occurring in the open air and noticed less often nowadays, have been used as metaphors for ambitious dreams: a will o' the wisp, a mirage, and, of course, the end of the rainbow.) (To say nothing of bubbles).
Last edited by nisiprius on Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

carol-brennan
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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by carol-brennan » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:35 pm

dustinst22 wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:05 pm
Simplicity and optimization are things I strive for as well. These two go hand in hand, and it's beautiful to see a perfectly optimized and simple system.
Here have been some of my attempts:

1) Live in an area I can walk to anything needed.
2) One car, with low maintenance costs (Prius)
3) Small home, very low maintenance, and few possessions, only keep items we love. If you can tell, I hate maintenance.
4) Being vigilant about saying no. I don't like having too much on my calendar, and I resist adding anything to my calendar as much as possible. The more open my calendar the better. I can't stand meetings or scheduled calls especially. Of course, sometimes this seems to be a losing battle as my wife loves to have plans. Anything that takes up my time has to be worth it. We do a lot of travel, and this does require planning/calendar clutter. This is the one area I will bend.
5) Reduction of mail and spam. I've reduced my email to one account, and am continuously trying to reduce any spam. I hate physical mail, and do everything in my power to reduce it.
6) Along with the above, I've gotten rid of all paperwork in my home. Seriously, none. Also, zero physical books.
7) Consolidating all my investments I had in various accounts to one place. One brokerage, one checking/savings. All finances tied into one interface. Simple 3 fund portfolio.
8) Optimized and auto-set as much of my finances as possible so that I no longer have to think about it. Automate everything that can be reasonably automated.
9) 1 bag travel (Tom Bihn). I'm always trying to optimize and simplify my travel bag and get it as light as possible. Ultimate goal is a tiny backpack.

Very nice!

carol-brennan
Posts: 277
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2018 3:19 pm

Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by carol-brennan » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:37 pm

zeal wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:31 pm
  • Regularly evaluate my possessions & get rid of things I no longer need.
Yes!

I have a "use it or lose it" rule. If I don't use it within a year and it has any value, it goes on eBay or elsewhere. If it has no value, or if selling it would be more trouble than it's worth, trash it.

carol-brennan
Posts: 277
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Re: Thoreau Simplify

Post by carol-brennan » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:38 pm

J295 wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:56 pm
Certainly the exterior modifications of one's life can help cultivate the soil for sprouting simplicity; however, I believe the most fertile place to plant and grow simplicity is from an internal field.
Well put.

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