By Chris Thomson, Faculty Member with the BodyMind Institute
I am very lucky. I live in a beautiful place, and I have a lot of time to enjoy it. I live in La Cerdanya, in the north of Catalonia, right next to the Pyrenees. From my house I can see three ranges of snow-covered mountains, rising to nearly 10,000 feet. They are all within easy reach. Being a mountaineer, you can imagine the pleasure this gives me.
Of course, it is not all luck. I made a conscious choice to live here, and I also made the choice to make a lot of time for myself. I wanted to breathe clean air, see and hear and smell the natural world, and climb and ski whenever I wished. In fact, there is more to the story. I also wanted to simplify my life and, so far as this is possible, embody the principles of Taoism. Although I would love to call myself a 21st Century Taoist, I still have some way to go! So, what do I mean by simplifying my life and being a Taoist? As I hope to show you in this series of blogs, the two are closely related. And, as you have probably noticed already, the word “simple” is open to more than one interpretation. Let’s make that our starting point. What do you think “simple” means?
It can mean direct, straightforward, uncomplicated, uncluttered, easy…all of these things. It can also mean “not very bright, not very intelligent.” I prefer to focus on the positive meanings. With this in mind, I would like you to take a few moments to imagine how things would be if you and your life were uncomplicated, straightforward, uncluttered, and easy. Perhaps you already are and your life already is. If so, great. If not, just try to imagine what differences it might make. Although I cannot claim to have achieved all my simplicity goals, I can tell you, because of the conscious choices I made, my life is now much more enjoyable and fulfilled, and I feel healthier and happier than I have for many years.
Too good to be true? Too easy? Well, the fact is that it is good and it is true and, with some reservations, it is easy. I’ll say more about the reservations later. Meanwhile, I will conclude today by saying a few words about the deep guiding principle that has taken me to where I am today. That principle is “less is better”. If I were to try to summaries this, I would say that you, and your life and work, will almost certainly improve when you do less, say less, have less, expect less, try less, rush less, and control less. Just to be clear, this is not always true. Clearly there are times when “more is better”, when you really do need to do more, or say more, or have more etc. However, I think many of us today have the balance wrong. Many people allow “more is better” to rule their lives in so many ways. As we shall see later, there are good reasons why this happens, and we shall also see that it is the cause of many problems – personal, organisational, and national.
That’s it for today. Enough said!