“How do I simplify my life?”

The best place to start is to figure out what complicates your life most.  There is a good chance that you may find the culprit hiding under one (or more) of the following headings:

•  A menu of possibilities that is too long: We crave the luxury of choice, but paradoxically seize in the presence of too many options.  One of our biggest flaws is a belief in the value of ‘more’.  Variety, however, tends to disappoint.  ‘More’ soon turns into ‘too much’, which equates to dead weight, confusion and choice paralysis.  Simplicity is about hacking away at the inessentials.

•  Excessive social conformity: We live in a world of endless interfacing, glib commentary and superficial posturing.  It encourages us to live through the eyes of others and judge ourselves according to unreliable norms.  Simplicity is about living your own life, authentically, and steering clear of chambers of senseless public clatter and implicit judgement.

•  Lack of organisation: We tend to overvalue busyness for the sake of busyness.  Being effective is a much higher quality than being busy.  Many of life’s routines can be automated; they have to be done, but it doesn’t mean it should be done manually – or remembered to be done, repeatedly, by you. Simplicity is about the effective systemisation of rote activities – and then allocating your best time to what is really important.

•  Harbouring some confining personal viewpoints: We all grow up in a culture, household and education system that equip us with a set of dogmas and mental models.  Some of these tenets are limiting – and steal our peace, impede our relationships and erode our energy.  They complicate the way in which we interact with real life – and how life reacts back to us.  Simplicity is about editing out our unproductive defaults – and reserving our mental foreground for constructive lightness of attitude and pragmatic progress.

•  An urge to control the uncontrollable: We tend to concern ourselves with affairs beyond our sphere of influence.  This overreaching – whereby we try to govern what is outside our dominion – engulfs our lives with undue pressure.  Simplicity is the art of letting go – abandoning the battlefields where there is no victory to achieve.

Simplicity is difficult, but liberating.  It is an acquired taste, because mankind, left free, instinctively complicates life.  It is not about ignoring life’s essential complexities, but about the intelligent dismissal of what is wasteful.