Slower, Fewer, Less

Some Simplified Principles for Complicated Times

On a few occasions, I have heard someone talk about a person or a company being like a duck in the water — calm on the surface, but paddling furiously under the water. It usually serves as an analogy to show how much work it can take to be poised, calm, and laid-back.

I also found this analogy to be apt for practicing simplicity. We usually have to deal with a lot of complexity and mess in order to actually implement simplicity. Anyone who has edited a long article or book can tell you that.

As the year ramps up, and we naturally reflect on how we can change our lives for the better — I’m reflecting on how I can live more simply. In that vein, I’ve adopted a motto:

Slower, Fewer, Less

Slower

When I act more slowly, more deliberately, I come to accept fewer tasks, and focus on the ones that will yield the most value. I also reduce the amount of mistakes I make. I don’t do things that I later regret doing, or were just plain worthless — busywork. I end up doing more valuable things, because I refuse to spend time on things that aren’t valuable.

When I eat my food more slowly, I eat less of it, I enjoy it more, and I will buy less food — thus saving more money, and lowering my chances of overeating.

When I breathe more slowly, my mind moves more slowly. When my mind moves more slowly, I tend not to overreact. I tend to be more compassionate, more flexible, and I am happier as a result.

Fewer

When I buy things, they cost way more than what I initially pay for them. They all represent responsibilities, and commitments of time and money. Those can cause stress.

When I make commitments to others, to myself, I stretch my focus, time, and attention thinner. When that happens, there is less to give to each project — each commitment.

Less

When I take less than what my greedy ego desires, I leave more for others. When I leave more for others, they appreciate it. When what I do is appreciated by people, my life becomes richer as a result.

When I say less than what I might feel like saying in the moment, the words I do say mean much more. After all, they were more carefully thought out.

When I expend less energy and less money on what I want now, I have more for when I truly need things.


These are just thoughts, but they make an awful lot of sense to me. I’d love to hear yours.

If you enjoyed this, please consider subscribing to my once-weekly newsletter — Woolgathering. You’ll receive one email per week (no more) with some interesting stuff. I think you’ll like it.