Category Archives: Simplicity

‘A manner of living that is outwardly simple and inwardly rich.’ —Duane Elgin

Intellectual Life as a Form of Asceticism

What is needed, now as ever, are forms of asceticism, forms of discipline that protect human beings from these pressures [to amass wealth and to struggle for power] and help to preserve the manifestations of human dignity and the forms of community that dignity makes possible. Intellectual life is one such crucial form of asceticism. May it be preserved as such. (Zena Hitz “Freedom and Intellectual Life”

Materialistic Values and Goals

Materialism comprises a set of values and goals focused on wealth, possessions, image, and status. These aims are a fundamental aspect of the human value/goal system, standing in relative conflict with aims concerning the well-being of others, as well as one’s own personal and spiritual growth. Substantial evidence shows that people who place a relatively high priority on materialistic values/goals consume more products and incur more debt, have lower-quality interpersonal relationships, act in more ecologically destructive ways, have adverse work and educational motivation, and report lower personal and physical well-being. Experimentally activating materialistic aims causes similar outcomes. Given these ills, researchers have investigated means of decreasing people’s materialism. Successful interventions encourage intrinsic/self-transcendent values/goals, increase felt personal security, and/or block materialistic messages from the environment. These interventions would likely be more effective if policies were also adopted that diminished contemporary culture’s focus on consumption, profit, and economic growth. (Tim Kasser “Materialistic Values and Goals”)

Nature experience reduces risk factors for depression

walk-664898_1280Via Futurity:

A new study finds quantifiable evidence that walking in nature could lead to a lower risk of depression.

Specifically, the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to participants who walked in a high-traffic urban setting, showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.

Neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a brain region active during rumination – repetitive thought focused on negative emotions – decreased among participants who walked in nature versus those who walked in an urban environment.

“This finding is exciting because it demonstrates the impact of nature experience on an aspect of emotion regulation – something that may help explain how nature makes us feel better,” said lead author Gregory Bratman, a graduate student in Stanford’s Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, the Stanford Psychophysiology Lab and the Center for Conservation Biology.