WHAT IS "SIMPLICITY"?

“Each of us can decide—here and now—that we want a simpler, more peaceful and purposeful life.”

– AMBER CURTIS, PHD

DEFINING SIMPLICITY

The term “simplicity” gets thrown around in a lot of different contexts. In fact, throughout my years of researching it, I’ve come across at least six different ways that simplicity gets used:

  • It’s become a huge catch-phrase, especially in the business world, for syncing technological platforms to automate tasks and processes
  • Scientists use it to point out the striking similarities underlying the physics of the natural world
  • Some equate it with financial freedom: planning for the future in order to hurry up and get out of the rat race
  • It commonly conjures up images of going back in time…living a life distanced from technology that isn’t so caught up in the day-to-day busy-ness of our modern culture (think, for example, of the Amish or of small-town living)
  • It suggests stillness and meditation; being secluded in a remote, peaceful setting and/or living a heavily religious or spiritual life
  • Most equate it with minimalism: rejecting consumerism, decluttering our surroundings, and making do with a lot less stuff

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these definitions. But in my view, many of them—particularly the latter ones—imply a fundamental life transformation. I struggled to know where that left me, someone striving to balance the many things already on my plate. I couldn’t just walk away from all my responsibilities, and financial constraints prohibited major change. Was I then (as a full-time working mother of three young kids in a dual-working household living far away from family and in a tight financial situation) doomed to perpetual complexity? How could I overcome the unbearable overwhelm I was experiencing? How could I achieve simplicity immediately, even in the midst of my current conditions? Was that even possible?!?!

I decided it had to be, and I sought to figure out how. Here’s what I determined my definition of simplicity is:

  • Simplicity is both a mindset and a methodology
  • It’s a recognition of what matters most to US coupled with the conscious, deliberate intention to surround ourselves with more of that and less of everything else
  • It’s about living a more peaceful and purposeful life, in spite of any outside chaos around us
  • It’s about not having more to do than time to do it
  • Simplicity is a state of self-awareness—an internal sense of purpose and contentment—no matter our external circumstances

Perhaps most importantly of all, I see simplicity as a PROCESS. It’s a continuum, and no matter where we’re starting the journey, the important thing is simply to take incremental steps in the direction we want to go.

At this point, I hope you’re thinking, “That sounds nice. But seriously, how do you get there? What do you actually DO to combat chaos and achieve a simpler, more joy-filled life?” Excellent questions.

The methodology I’ve developed for simplicity is as follows:

  • Evaluate where we are
  • Establish where we want to go and why
  • Eliminate tasks and tendencies that aren’t moving us towards that end goal
  • Become much, much, MUCH more efficient at the remaining things on our list (I’ll show you how!)
  • Employ scientifically-proven strategies for “success” (simply defined as actualizing our potential)
  • Enlarge our perspective and give ourselves credit for the “wins” instead of the “losses”
  • Embrace adversity, secure in the knowledge that it’s shaping us into the person we’re meant to become and confident that we’ll “figure it out” in time

The host of resources I’ve created outline concrete steps designed to help others replicate this path. Trust me, if I can do it—anyone can!

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