The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
Modern life can be very complicated – and for no good reason. The mindset of our society seems to be to do ‘more with more’. We are expected to acquire more and more material wealth, more than is actually necessary for well-being. At the same time, we lose the freedom, the energy and the motivation to live more essential lives.
More with more
The problem with the more-with-more attitude is the law of diminishing returns. Each time you do or have more it has less effect. At some point the benefit you receive is less than the time, energy and resources you put into it.
The more-with-more attitude also loses the sense of what things are vital and what things are trivial. Not all things are equal. We can stretch and stress ourselves trying to maximise everything but we will be worse off in the end.
More with less
The benefits of a simpler life are profound. Instead of the produce-and-consume way of life, people can focus more on the things that really support well-being such as relationships, self-improvement and meaningful pursuits.
The 80:20 principle predicts that 80% of a person’s well-being is caused by 20% of their actions, relationships, possessions, time and resources. That means that we spend 80% of our time and resources on only 20% of our well-being. Most people focus too much energy on the ‘trivial many’ when they should be maximising their energy on the ‘vital few’ things. The questions to ask are:
- What are the vital few things in my life that provide the most well-being?
- How can I focus my energy and attention on those ways that make me happier and my life a richer experience?