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On trends

As I sit down to write this, I have walked precisely 6,569 steps today. I know this because I have a brand new plum-colored FitBit HR on my wrist. It tracks my steps and my heart rate, and generates detailed reports each morning about the previous night’s sleep.

It’s the first pedometer I’ve ever owned. Frankly, until a few weeks ago, I’d never even wanted one. But some sort of switch flipped in me, and I went from being altogether indifferent about FitBits to obsessively comparison shopping. I am not entirely sure what happened, but I suspect it was this: the gadgets entered the zeitgeist; suddenly it seemed like everyone I knew had one.

Even as I eagerly unwrapped the package on my new toy, I wondered if it would be a convenient tool to keep me healthy or a fleeting fad destined for the junk drawer.

You see, I have a bit of a track record with adopting fads that aren’t always destined for longevity. I am especially susceptible to health-related trends. (Let us not speak of the juicer gathering dust in my basement, or the whole two days I stuck with a Whole30.)

It goes without saying that this particular personality quirk is not exactly compatible with my so-called commitment to simple living.

It’s not that any given gadget or program is necessarily unworthy of our time or money. Often, these things are popular for a reason. But I was supposed to learn this lesson in junior high: just because something is popular with the crowd doesn’t make it right for me.

I hereby rededicate myself to being more discerning about trends. These are the questions I’ll consider:

TRENDSPhoto by gilipollastv

  • Who has recommended it? I value the recommendations from a very small handful of bloggers such as Anne Bogel and our own Tsh Oxenreider, and I have a few savvy friends whose recommendations are invariably gold. I really don’t need to know what O Magazine thinks I should do this weekend or what’s algorithms are promoting.
  • Would this be money well spent? We have some long-term financial goals, and the desire to be generous givers to church and charitable organizations. Does this trend move us closer or further from that vision?
  • What will this bring into my life? Yes, my bread machine takes up a lot of space in our tiny kitchen. It also guarantees that we regularly eat fantastic homemade pizza. The FitBit has already inspired me to walk more; why walk my daughter as far as the bus stop when it only takes a few more minutes to walk her all the way to school? Meanwhile, the aforementioned Whole30 – though highly recommended by many trustworthy sources – triggered in me unhealthy anxiety about food. Ultimately, this is about knowing myself – sure, this thing/project/adventure is great for these folks over there, but what will it bring into my life?
  • Does this resonate with my life’s purpose? The working definition of “simple living” here at The Art of Simple is living holistically with your life’s purpose. In many ways, this is the key question, and probably the hardest. To ask it with integrity, I have to have done the work to discern what my life’s purpose is.

I may not always know the answers to these questions. Still, I hope they will slow me down enough to identify why I really want to try or buy something – or, just as importantly, to discover why I don’t.

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. noreen

    I tend to avoid the rush of life that seems to be happening all around me. I have to make
    choices each day to remind myself I need to do what is right for me, not what others think I should be doing. It takes wisdom to discern this. I try not to get caught up in what others will think, although it’s purely pressure when you swim against the tide. Not always easy!

  2. susan

    How timely! I wanted a Fitbit, many of my friends had them and so I researched all the competitors, bought and returned a Jawbone and then my friend passed her Fitbit along to me. I used it for 1 week, the battery ran out and I was already over it. So thankful that I did not spend any money on something destined to be unused. Since I have been a regular exerciser for years, it would have been a gadget not a tool. Love your thresholds for purchases!

  3. Katie B.

    I’m susceptible to the health-related trends, too. (Dusty juicer? Check. Standing desk that now works as a buffet in the kitchen? Check. A tiny stair-stepper that fit under my desk but ruined my concentration? Check.)

    I do have a FitBit, and I do use it BUT… I stopped for a while and didn’t understand why. Then it dawned on me that I’d added all of my friends on the FitBit app who also use it, and their competitiveness was making me feel bad about myself (and that made me walk less). As soon as I decided to go solo, rather than adding FitBit friends, I started getting my steps in every day.

    • Katherine Willis Pershey

      It’s so interesting to see how different aspects motivate different people! I’m glad you figured how how to make it work for you.

  4. Anne Bogel

    I love your four questions and hope to talk all about trends with you (the good, the bad, the ugly) over coffee one day! (I still love my fitbit. 5362 steps today so far. 🙂 )

    • Katherine Willis Pershey

      I am uncharacteristically at 16,314 today, and it’s only 3pm. Going to hit a new record. 🙂

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