The Value of Simplicity
Wednesday January 19, 2022

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“The value of True Simplicity is that it fully lets the light in so that you can see and explore the depths of a life’s full gifts and beauty.”

The word simplicity. A noun defined as the condition or quality of being easy to understand.

Too often the word ‘simple’ is given the equivalence to lacking in value. Some may even equate a ‘simple’ life as being a life lived by simpletons, defined as a foolish or gullible person. However, those who choose to accept the devaluation of life when it is simplified may actually be revealing themselves as being the simpleton in this situation. Such a statement may sound harsh, but the value of simplicity is how when we embrace it, our lives elevate in the quality of every area in our lives.

When we welcome a life of simplicity into our days, years and experiences, we choose to live deeply, intimately and honestly with a life that has more riches and wonders and breath-taking-away moments than we could have ever thought possible. We embrace our full humanness and we bravely dance with all that life wants us to witness, experience, revel in, and celebrate.

Unfortunately, also because we are human, we stand in the way of this awesome life unfolding. Sometimes it is because we are weary of investing our time, our resources, our heart. On the latter point, often we choose not to live a life of simplicity because it means we have to fully feel the emotions – the wide range of them – and if we are not skilled (something we can learn) in emotional intelligence tools for understanding what we are feeling and how to navigate well through what arises, feeling unwanted feelings, can be terrifying.

How Do We Thwart Simplicity?

  • Instead of healing ourselves, we triage our wounds with excess
  • Excess can come in many different forms:
    • a daily life schedule fully booked with no breathing room (white space)
    • a long list of goals to ensure we are not ‘wasting our time’
    • overwhelming our minds with constant news, media and glances into other lives through their social media pages
    • eating whenever you don’t know what to do with your hands or free time even though you’re not hungry
    • Shopping or spending as you seek out temporary ‘high’s to mitigate the lulls of engagement in activities that don’t fulfill you
  • We live a life prescribed to us, not one designed by us.
  • We say yes or no as a reaction instead of thinking well about what supports the life we want to live.
    • We say yes (when we don’t really want to) to please, to align ourselves with the ‘right’ way of living so we can be accepted by people who won’t accept us as we are.
    • We say no (when we don’t really want to) to adhere to the expectations of society so we can be accepted by people who won’t accept us as we are.

What is true simplicity?

“Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.” — Leo Babauta of Zen Habits

True simplicity reflects someone who is living with clarity about what is of value to them. Which is why when Leonardo Da Vinci stated that “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”, he could not have been more accurate. The truth about simplicity is that is hard to attain, and not something you can purchase off the shelf or imitate by observing someone else’s life.

In 2014 I shared a detailed post about the ‘How’ of Tailored Simplicity. This post shares in detail how I tailored my life to be simple beginning with where in the world would help me foster the life of true contentment based on my temperament, interests, skills and passions. The underlining foundation of true simplicity is that it must reside on top of a foundation of self-knowledge – what matters to you? what brings you joy? what tickles your toes and what fosters a loving heart so that you can find the inner peace to be loving toward others and the world?

In other words, there is homework involved if we wish to live a life of simplicity, and because that often requires more time, many don’t invest and instead continue thwarting the very simplicity they say they want.

The good news is the heavy front-end loading of living a life of true simplicity is temporary and yields awesome results that radiate out into all corners of your life and those you love and can continue to do so so long as you consciously practice awareness and choose to be curious as to welcome growth and knowledge of yourself and the ever-changing world around you.

French sculptor François Auguste René Rodin may not have been able to foresee the challenges to simplicity the 21st world would present, but he was right about finding wholeness of ourselves when we seek a life of true simplicity, “The more simple we are, the more complete we become.”

How do we become more complete by embracing true simplicity? When we make space to connect with what matters, with who matters, deeply, entirely, bravely, we exercise the truth of who we are – human. And when we see the humanity in others, when we listen, when we bravely share out true selves, connections strengthen, stronger connections are found, and we experience relationships and many moments of deep beauty, warmth and loving connection. And when we connect human-to-human, not for financial exchange, or to soothe a something with external bandaids that we ourselves can only heal within, we discover why it is so awesome to a living, breathing, heart-pumping human being.

How to welcome True Simplicity into our lives?

Be brave. First, dare to go within and understand your hurts, your pain, your ‘pain walls’ as Cory Muscara calls them.

Then, dare to connect honestly and lovingly with others. Refrain from sarcasm, forever cast aside cynicism, accept compliments, share what you love, extend appreciation specifically and honestly, ask directly for what you need without demand, but to broaden understanding, and be love. As David Richo reminds, there are only two methods of modus operandi you need to incorporate into every single action you take throughout your days – loving-kindness and integrity. Make sure each guide your decisions and your actions, and you become love. You become trustworthy, you become the brave person you may have always wanted to be but didn’t know how. You become vulnerable yes, but you reveal to others you are a safe space to be fully themselves as well. And the opportunity for learning, understanding, connecting begin.

When it comes to how you live your life beyond the human connections, once you’ve done the homework of yourself and are bravely connecting with the world, you need less to fulfill you. In fact, so many of the ‘things’ you thought fulfilled you were most likely only holding a space but didn’t have the substance you thought they possessed. How do you know this to be true of each item (car, size of house, clothing item, toy, etc.)? When you start to connect sincerely with others who also wish to connect sincerely, their connection will fulfill you in a way no ‘thing’ ever could.

Yes, we need shelter, we need a room to ourselves, we need safety, but we also need peace of mind, and how we get there is not through more things and bigger ‘anything’, it is through finding our true selves, extending our true selves in loving-kindness and integrity and letting go of anything else that detracts us from investing in what and who we love.

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5 thoughts on “The Value of Simplicity

  1. I loved this post. Before I found your blog, I used to think living simply was boring, or not for me. But now after reading both of your books and countless posts here on the blog, I love having simplicity in my life. It makes it a wonderful life. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for this post Shannon. I feel like I am always trying to cultivate a more simplified, content life. But as you note, achieving true simplicity is hard! There are demands on my attention everywhere, and demands I place on myself.
    Working on being more “presence” is key to more simplicity for me this year, and also taking more time to consider, do I really want to do this? Is this something that will add to my life or take away? Before engaging.
    Simplicity is a constant practice for me!

    1. Sarah,

      Thank you for expressing the truth of the on-going practice of living with simplicity. As you shared, it takes being and holding ourselves fully in the present as we make decisions, add or let go of things, activities or connections to our lives. If we are engaged in the awesomeness of life, the choices continually present themselves and aren’t we fortunate that they do, and that gives us practice to exercise what adds value to our lives.

      There is no doubt in my mind you live a wonderful life of active simplicity. 😌 Thank you fo4 your comment and consideration on this topic.

  3. Loving kindness and integrity…….clearly and simply expressed ❤️ and a beautiful , gentle reminder of how to live each day .
    Thank you Shannon .
    x Anne x

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