Henry David Thoreau’s Call to Live a Simple Life in Walden

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1699 words

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“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” This is a quote from Walden, a prose written by the American writer and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau who lived in seclusion on Walden Pond for two years. Thoreau pursued simplified lifestyle. During two years he lived in Walden, he brought only a borrowed axe and lived a life of complete self-sufficiency. With the development of human beings and the progress of society, the seemingly busy and fulfilling human society is actually full of insecurity and emptiness. The daily busy life seems to be full of the smell of gunpowder, and more and more people have psychological problems because of the pressure of life. So why don't people try Thoreau's simple lifestyle? However, from the point of view of today's society, it seems impossible that people leave the modern society and go to the mountains for seclusion. In fact, it is still possible. People should try to live a simple life. The biggest advantage of living in simple life is that it can release the pressure from modern society and relieve one's mood. In addition, people can also feel the different beauty of nature through the change of lifestyle, taking mountains and rivers as their neighbors and birds and animals as their friends. Moreover, simple life can reduce people's living expenses and achieve more economic benefits. Just as Thoreau said, people's lives should be simplified.

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The simplest reason why people should try to live a simple life is that it is good for our psychological health. Unconsciously, mental health has become a very hot topic in the society. According to Dana S. Dunn, the Professor of Psychology at Moravian College in Bethlehem, in 2012-2013, 1.84 million bachelor's degrees were awarded nationwide in The United States, and 6.2% of them were awarded a bachelor's degree in psychology. Psychology is becoming popular major after business and health-related majors. This data shows that more and more people need the services of psychologists. Unconsciously, depression has become a familiar word around us. Nowadays, fifteen to twenty percent of adults experience severe depression at some point in their lives. In 2016, 6.7% of American adults had a major depressive episode. The common causes of depression are psychosocial stress and traumatic world events. People often hear complaints around them. Some people complain about heavy study tasks, some complain about tired family life, and some complain about unsatisfactory work. There are always too many things to deal with in life. People are carrying heavy loads on their shoulders and no one knows when they will be crushed. At current levels, most people consume more than they need. These increase the psychological pressure that people lives undoubtedly. Just like Thoreau said in Walden, “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.” So why people have to live so busy? A simple lifestyle can make people live less tired. The simple life is based on the understanding of their own practical needs as a starting point, only to consume their own useful material wealth. So living simply is a very effective way to relax in this stressful society. The simple life is to get rid of the unimportant and unnecessary things and pursue the life you really enjoy. If people live such the life they really enjoy, the pressure from life will be reduced naturally.

In addition, the pursuit of a simple life is also a good opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery of nature. We can try to remember, how long it has been since we have been close to nature last time? In our daily life, we are always surrounded by modern technology products and social media, and there are few natural things. According to Cooper and Patrick G, the authors of “Social Media,” by 2015, social media accounted for 28 percent of time in the United States. More and more people are spending their time on social media. Even with rare free time, most people just spend it with their phones. In my memory, when I was a little kid, my parents always took me to the park to play on the weekends. These two days were my favorite two days of a week. Every time I had a good time in the park. I met many children in the park who were about the same age as I was at that time. We were like runaway horses, running freely on the grass. Sometimes we were like a group of lions, fighting and biting for prey. After a while, we played happily together again. We were unbridled and happy to play. However, nowadays, I can often see some little kids have their own smartphones. They don't talk to others, they don't play outside, they just quietly play with their phones. Tak Yan Lee’s data shows that a survey of 471 students aged 12 to 20 in Hong Kong found that smartphones were widely used by more than 85% of them. These figures suggest that most teenagers already have their own mobile phones. Children spend so much time with modern technology and social media so that they spend less time with nature. In walden, Thoreau expressed his deep love for nature. Nature is like a piece of music. This music carries the Thoreau's carefree dreams, letting their thoughts sink into the beauty of nature. He observed nature, played with the loons and foxes and explored the essence of life in nature. Summer morning he sat in front of the sun, and meditated with sumac, and pecan, and sumac trees. In winter, he measured the depth of the lake on the ice. But I believe there are very few people who have had such an experience as Thoreau. People can try to live a simple lifestyle, put down their phones and social media, hang out with friends and experience the most natural beauty in the world. Then they will find that the beautiful nature is god's best gift to them. The beauty of nature can never be replaced.

Living simply is also a great way to save money. Although people often buy things to feel happy and relax, materialism often fails to satisfy them and instead increases the pressure of life. According to Statista, an online statistical data portal which provides data from major markets, countries and opinion polls, “In 2019, revenue from the luxury market reached $402.491 million. The market expects growth of 2.7% a year.” The existence of comparison and vanity makes people always want to buy something they don't really need, especially luxury goods. With the pace of the industrialization of capitalist society, the American economy developed rapidly and the society made continuous progress. Prosperous industry and commerce led to the widespread worship of hedonism. Some people busy all their lives, but when they are old, they find that they have no savings. Their money seems to be unconsciously spent in a mess. At this point, the benefits of a simple life are all the more obvious. Living simply is a lifestyle that minimizes the pursuit of wealth and consumption, and financial security is often one of the primary benefits of living simply. When people start to consume less and save more, it is easier to achieve financial goals. A debt-free life is a great place to find yourself. With almost no monthly payments to worry about, your life becomes simpler. The person who knows how to be satisfied will never live a bad life. The faultfinder does not fare well in the best of circumstances. Just like Thoreau mentioned in Walden, “It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is.”

However, some people think that it is not realistic to live simply in modern life, and Thoreau's reclusive behavior is impossible. In fact, Thoreau wasn't always a recluse. He only lived on Walden Pond for about two years. When he felt he had satisfied his inner desires, he left. Some people worry that the pursuit of a simple life and the pace of social life will be derailed, will make others feel very strange. What's more, there is no way for people to leave their social circle and live in seclusion in the mountains. But simple life doesn't mean isolated, we can still communicate with our friends. “Living simply is not an all or nothing thing. You can try it out in a small way and if it feels good move forward at your own speed”. This means simple life is not a poor, boring life, it is a deliberate expression of the true self, clear personal life goals and healthy life. In addition, after people retire, it is very comfortable to live in seclusion in the quiet mountains. In that time, people don't have to connect with too many people or worry about everything, all they need to do is simply enjoy life. People's pursuit of simple life is not deliberately to pursue this mode of life, but to make their life more simple and happier.

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The simple life is something that everybody should try. Even though today's society makes it difficult for people to live as they want as Thoreau did, we should have an attitude of pursuing a simple life. Simple life can make people relax, feel the beauty of nature, and save money. As Confucius, the ancient Chinese educator and founder of Confucianism said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” The world is very simple, just because people have a complex heart, let the world become complex. In fact, people should only do what they need to do, without much talking or thinking. People just need to work hard in the process of doing things, and the results are just as they should be, a little more relaxed, free and easy, a little easier, the natural will come.

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Henry David Thoreau’s Call To Live A Simple Life In Walden. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from
“Henry David Thoreau’s Call To Live A Simple Life In Walden.” GradesFixer, 18 Mar. 2021,
Henry David Thoreau’s Call To Live A Simple Life In Walden. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 Sept. 2023].
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