The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
— Hans Hofmann
The other day I was asked why life is so complicated. To some, it feels like there’s never time to breathe, that we always have one problem after the other. But here’s this.
Life never has to be this complicated. Relationships never have to be this complicated. Friendships never have to be this complicated. Your happiness, ability to love, well-being and peace of mind, never have to be this complicated. Life is rarely a realm of black and white because, in most cases, you either want something or you don’t. Nobody ever told us that saying, “It’s complicated”, was a good idea. We invented “maybe” and “I’m not sure”. That’s usually what people say when they don’t want to tell the truth (I know I’m also guilty of this) or when they’re running from something.
Speaking of which: this is what I’ve learned about life:
Face reality as it is
Reality is not ours to own. That can petrify or panic some people, but ultimately it’s a beautiful lesson to learn. Don’t run from it, with your back against your challenges all the time. You can’t control or worry about every little thing because not everything will work out for you. That’s okay. You have to understand that.
Life gets complicated because we try to over-analyse. We look into and overthink everything. We don’t breathe (in fact, take a nice deep breath now as a reminder). Learning to let go when something no longer serves you is a skill—and it’s learnable if you let it be.
Mistakes and defeat aren’t embarrassing. That’s just what we tell ourselves. Reality can be a stunning landscape when we trust our limits and forgo exhausting ourselves trying to understand everything.
Life is all about choices
Make the choices that put your best self first. The choice to be free, heal, break down and rebuild, to love. People choose to live off hope, hatred, jealousy or envy, but this is self-destructing. You have to turn them into choices. The choice is to be away from self-deprecating thoughts and be emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically stable. The choice to build a healthier and simpler relationship with others but firstly yourself. To stop looking to the past for your answers.
Your problems in life might not be your fault, but they’re your responsibility. I used to blame other people for everything. Lay the blame elsewhere and as an excuse not to do anything. Where did that get me? Further behind. You can start afresh whenever you want and have as many chapters as you feel like, but you have to make that choice.
You can’t pour from an empty cup
Some people see self-love as saying a few more nice things about yourself. But there’s more to gain from this practice. Everything you are trying to find in someone can be found in yourself. Life is about being the person you want to be for yourself. That also helps you become the person everybody else can look to for guidance, inspiration, or energy.
Introspection is the first step to understanding who you are, what you want, or how to accept, learn and forgive. You can’t give what you don’t have. You can’t love if you don’t love yourself first. And you can’t help others if you can’t help yourself.
Simple living takes work—although not as much as you think. People waste far too much energy trying to be at the centre of reality and keeping up with everything. It’s not worth it. Taking the time to rest or be introspective can help you realise there are many obstacles in life that you can shift your focus away from. And the more you spend time doing that, the simpler your life can be.
What I’ve Learned
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned recently.
Why I’m overly positive
I don’t see the point in being negative when something doesn’t go my way. It seems too obvious that this is self-destructive, but some people continue to be this way. And you can’t expect a better life if all you’re thinking about is what could go wrong. So, I like to remind myself that being overly optimistic is much better because I prefer to have low but positive expectations about a goal because then I naturally aim for the more.
Look inside, then look around
James Clear wrote that items can be like magnets for our attention rather than plain objects. It’s similar to what I said earlier about how much energy we could free up if we discarded more attention-sucking thoughts. Start looking within, then look around your environment. See what can go.
A powerful combination for continuous improvement
When I’m driven to work or improve, my natural desire to be disciplined, intelligent, and strict but with a creative flow falls into place. This comes down to hating being bad at stuff, plus my willingness to look like a beginner. as James Clear says, “It’s the willingness to look foolish for a short time—not a long time—that leads to jumps in performance.”
What’s on My Mind
I’m loving the direction my brand is taking, from what I write about to the design elements that surround it. And now to add to this (for anyone interested) I’ve completed the initial design concept of my future personal website. So, soon, an official mock up will be wired together on Figma, and it won’t be long before it’s live! This has been one of my favourite projects in a long time as the I miss the value of having an easily searchable hub where I can visualise my brand and express who my content serves. If you’re interested to know more, I’ll keep the updates going here.
A Question for You
What three things in your life that take up a lot of time and energy could you discard?
Hoped you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
My' wife's great-grandmother used to say, "Don't borrow trouble." Meaning don't look for something to worry or fret about. Take life as it is.