Editor’s Note: This is a post in the new series, Simplicity in Action. If you’d like to submit your story of how simplicity has worked in your life, please read more here. You can write about anything from decluttering a junk drawer to simplifying your diet. Let your small and big changes inspire others.
My form of simplicity may seem odd. It’s a simplicity derived from deep analysis of the complexity of my world. I first started down this path after reading two amazing books, both written by Harvard professors. The first is titled The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda. The second is titled Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman.
These books approach simplicity from very different perspectives, but both zero in on the notion that achieving true simplicity requires fully understanding the complexity of the situation we are trying to simplify. Thus, instead of giving things up or setting artificial limits on what I possess or can do, I’ve spent many months considering what it is that moves me intellectually and emotionally and why.
Stripping away all my pre-conceived ideas about success and progress, I have relentlessly pursued defining my underlying motivations. The result has been a sharpening of focus and a blending of efforts towards are more fulfilling lifestyle. I still work hard, but now it’s with a very clear objective: to communicate to others how very important (and scarce) time is. My recreational activities are paired down to the few thing I love and can make time to do. My social life includes only those with whom I feel a strong connection. I’ve even gone through the house and cleared away all that doesn’t tell a story. My days are now filled with meaning and enjoyment. Rarely do frustrations last more than a few minutes.
Surprisingly, the process to accomplish this result was easy – take each “thing” away and test the void that was created. What specific emotions were produced when it was removed? What pattern can be gleaned from these emotions once things were removed. Over time, I found four recurring themes that drive me. I call them my Elements of Simplicity and they are: Intimacy, Authenticity, Convenience, and Elegance.
Here is how I define each of these in terms of the aspects of my life that were studied:
- Intimacy: I am embraced.
- Authenticity: It is real, not put on or hyped up.
- Convenience: Little or no “maintenance” is required.
- Elegance: Form meets function.
These Elements of Simplicity intermingle at varying levels in every aspect of what I’ve kept in my life. Whether its work, activities, friendships, or time alone, my goal is to maximize one or more of these things during the time I spend on that portion of my world.
More about what I do professionally can be learned at Quiet Spacing.