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  • Tom Goldstein

The Amazing Art of Simple: How Doing Less is More


In an increasingly complex world, the call to simplify our lives resonates deeply with many of us. Our calendars are packed, our to-do lists endless, and our minds are scattered. This leaves us yearning for clarity, peace, and a life that feels more authentic.

What if the key lies in the paradox of doing less to gain more?

Taking a break to slow down has proven benefits. Short breaks of 5-10 minutes can boost focus and productivity, according to research from Duke University. Slowing down can also help you make better decisions by giving you the time to think things through. Deliberately making time for relaxation can lead to improved decision-making skills in complex tasks. So, taking time to pause isn't just good for your well-being; it can make your busy life more effective and fulfilling.


Unravelling the Complexity Trap

The modern lifestyle, complete with high tech and too many choices does have its benefits. However, as Confucius said:

"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated."

We often confuse the pursuit of excitement with the search for happiness. This leads us into a constant state of restlessness.

Our busy schedules may satisfy our need for social validation. Being busy is often seen being important, but at what cost? In the rush of life, we often overlook what is truly essential. We dilute our experiences and obscuring our genuine needs and desires.


Embracing the Act of Doing Nothing

Counterintuitive as it may seem, the practice of doing absolutely nothing offers a plethora of mental and physical health benefits. Letting go of tasks, expectations, and worries, even briefly, provides a breather for our overworked minds and bodies. It may be uncomfortable initially, given that it runs counter to the societal norms that value constant productivity. But this discomfort is the key to unlocking a more fulfilled life.


The question is, how can you create time for doing absolutely nothing in your busy schedule?


Here are some suggestions that you can adapt:

Short Breaks: 5-10 Minutes

For the extremely busy individual, even taking 5-10 minutes to step away from the chaos can be rejuvenating. This could be a simple break to stare out the window, enjoy a cup of tea, or simply sit quietly. The goal is to create a pocket of stillness amid the noise of daily life.


Medium-Length Sessions: 20-30 Minutes

A 20-30 minute break can allow for a deeper state of relaxation. This is also in line with the Pomodoro Technique, which suggests that short breaks after focused periods of work can increase productivity and well-being. During this time, one can engage in mindful breathing, take a short walk, or even indulge in a power nap.


Longer Sessions: 1-2 Hours

For those who can afford the time, a 1-2 hour session of doing nothing can offer a deeper sense of peace and clarity. This could be a weekend morning where you intentionally have no plans and can linger over breakfast, take a leisurely shower, or simply sit in a park.


Occasional Full-Day or Weekend

Sometimes a full day or even a weekend of "doing nothing" can reset your mental state. This provides a fresh perspective on life. If you can manage it even once in a while, the benefits can be substantial.


Remember that the essence of "doing nothing" is to step away from your daily activities and responsibilities. It is about creating space for relaxation and mindfulness. When busy people carve out time for this, they often find their "busy" time more effective and fulfilling.


Bridging the Gap: Mindfulness as the Way Forward

Being present and aware of our surroundings and ourselves allows us more mind space. We can sift through life’s complexities and arrive at what truly matters. It helps us question outdated assumptions. The door opens for us to make choices that resonate better with our inner selves.


Practical Steps for a Simpler, More Fulfilled Life

  1. Make Friends with Change: Acceptance is not the same as surrender. Embracing life’s ebb and flow reduces our resistance to situations we cannot control.

  2. Question Your Answers: Re-evaluate old beliefs and practices. Challenge yourself by asking, “Is this truly beneficial to me now?”

  3. Stop Confusing Excitement with Happiness: Realise that happiness is an internal state, present when we halt the frantic search for it in external things.

  4. Practice Subtraction: Regularly assess what you can let go of, both emotionally and materially, to make room for what truly matters.

  5. Incorporate 'Doing Nothing' into Your Routine: Whether it's staring out the window or sitting in your garden, allow yourself some unstructured time to just be.

Reaping the Benefits

Simplifying our lives isn't about giving up what makes life rich and beautiful; it’s about making room for more of what truly matters. Try consciously choosing to simplify, and occasionally to "do nothing". You may find yourself living a life that is more aligned with your deeper, more authentic needs. This alignment often leads to genuine happiness and fulfilment.


So, take a step back, breathe deeply, and open the door to a simpler, more fulfilling life. Or do you want some support on your journey? Either get in touch or try an experiment on your own. Your authentic self will thank you for it.

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