Is Simplicity Guaranteed to Keep You Young at Heart?

Just Ask the Children.

Feb 28, 2023

That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest. ~Henry David Thoreau

And the same applies to children.

Yes, I’ve seen my granddaughter’s eyes glaze over when she’s working on Khan Academy via her tablet. Or watching a favorite cartoon on the wide-screen high-definition TV. Of course, modern-day electronics and screens seem to have that effect on all of us.

But, if you’ve ever observed young children outside exploring, you’ll notice how fascinated they are with almost anything mundane. Dandelions, leaves, rocks…you name it. But are these things really unremarkable?

  • Dandelions serve as a natural first-aid kit, acting as a gentle diuretic to help the digestive system function properly and promote healthy digestive processes, to name a few.

  • When leaves turn colors in the fall, they are actually returning to their normal colors.

  • Rocks are found in common household items, such as soap, toothpaste, makeup, and batteries.

These are some well-known facts that I wasn’t aware of until writing this post, and I find them rather amazing. In their uncluttered and wide-open little minds, children sense things we cannot. They see and question so many things that grownups don’t make time for. Unlike the adult mind (overloaded and far narrower), the ordinary becomes something potentially extraordinary.

Credit: Life Matters Newsletter

Most children (but certainly not all) have the luxury of not needing to think about the concerns of adults: education, careers, finances, and various relationships beyond those of family and close friends. Their world is unpretentious, so their focus is on the here and now.

Only as we age do these grown-up responsibilities begin to crowd out our unsophisticated but blissfully simple lives. When that happens, we lose sight of the miracles that surround us daily.

But what’s an adult to do? It’s not like we can ignore our obligations. And often, we have other people depending on us, such as spouses, parents, children, coworkers, etc. While we can’t return to the freedom of our younger years, there are ways to remain young at heart.

Simple Living

Choosing to live simply involves a slower-paced lifestyle that promotes fewer distractions and more peace.

It’s more extensive than minimalism and practiced across different lifestyles. One example is homesteading, which includes growing one’s own food, making your own clothes, and using wind/solar power. (I’m all for sustainable energy, but can’t sew to save my life.)

Living off the grid is another example. This means not being connected to any public utilities. (I truly appreciate running water and electricity, therefore could never do this.)

For average folks like me, utilizing time better and getting more done is a way to live simply. Removing obligations and people from our lives that have no ROI makes way for those things that make us truly happy.


Becoming a minimalist means adopting a lifestyle characterized by sparsity: owning less to make room for things that actually bring you joy (I’m channeling Marie Kondo’s kurashi.)

Minimalist living applies to all areas and includes tiny homes, reducing digital usage, and zero-waste living.

I’ve reduced the time spent on news and social media and found it very freeing! Over the past 15 years (which involved several moves), I donated most of my ‘stuff’ and only kept family heirlooms. I’m still working on producing less garbage, but less clutter really does bring more tranquility.

Anyway, the kids know how to focus on things that make them happy (sometimes laser-sharp), like finally arriving at a greatly anticipated destination: Are we there yet? And they know how to find happiness in what’s at hand right now.

On a recent walk to the park, my grandson exhibited this in an impromptu song (which you probably played at the beginning.) While I couldn’t make out the words, his music demonstrated that he was quite satisfied with life at that moment. It was a simple trek to a place he’s been to many times and yet a terrific example of finding joy in simplicity…a great lesson for those of us seeking to stay young at heart!


Name something you’ve learned from a child.

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