Why do we all have the inherent tendency to complicate even the simplest of things? Why are our minds conditioned to think that the more complex a solution, the better? You want a house, but just cannot and will not acquire any kind of house -you have certain ‘out-of-this-world’ specifications your desired house must meet. For that reason, getting a house becomes a journey of struggles and hassles. Or, you are down with a severe headache as a result of everyday stress, but you expect a visit to the doctor to produce the diagnosis of a medical condition that sounds like “ brain neoplasms” or “ intracranial CNS disorder”. Huh? Wouldn’t you rather the doctor said “you just need some rest and good nutrition”? No! Because he’s got to prove a heck how much of his job he knows.
Here’s a far worse scenario: you hope to get married someday, but you a have a very long list of qualities the person you would get married to must possess or else…only God knows. Them, you get ‘lucky’, actually get married to that person you created and described on paper or probably in your head and it gets even more complicated, because that is just your style. In the relationship, you programme yourself with a myriad of rules, regulations, expectations and reactions. You would like your spouse to talk, walk, dress, eat, sleep…. a certain way or rather the way you please. You have very high standards and with you nothing is expected to be just simple. You were most likely born with the complexity syndrome, right?
I was excitedly preparing for my first big oral presentation sometime ago and I had to run it through my husband a couple of times. I remember he kept saying “keep it simple”. I got uneasy whenever he said that, because I had my game plan and it was to super-impress my audience rather than simply inspire them. How could I ruin my well thought-out strategy? No way! If I‘ve got to be exceptional, simplicity would mean failure. So I went ahead, despised a sincere advice and ended up shooting myself in the foot. When I sat to playback the video recording of my presentation, I was so ashamed to realize that I had mispronounced most of the heavy vocabulary I chose to use. At that moment, a playback of some facial expressions from my audience ran through my mind, the feedback was not good. An upset me wanted to smack my silly self very hard in the face, but I eventually just said to myself ‘it would have been great if you had kept it SIMPLE’. Despite the many lessons life has taught me on simplicity, I yet tend to gravitate towards complexity.
I found this interesting short story on simplicity- When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ballpoint pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat the problem, NASA scientists spent ten years and $12 billion to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300 centigrade. The Russians simply used a pencil.
Moral of the story: Life is better figured out if we apply the simplicity of purpose and direction.
I saw these quotes from great philosophers sometime ago and I reflect on them often; “How many things are there which I do not want?” ~ Socrates “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”-Epictetus
I kind of like to create a personalized integrated definition of some words that inspire me and here is my definition of SIMPLE and what a simple life consists of.
A simple life is:
We all need stability more than speed but most times as a result of our insatiable human nature, we prefer the fast life. Speed is good but the fast life has more chances of experiencing a crash. A simple life is steady and balanced with a lot less quakes.
I – Inciting
The most passionate people in the world lead simple lives. A simple life stirs up a selfless passion for greatness and the desire to achieve the exceptional. Ironical? I implore you to reflect on the life of Africa’s greatest leader-Nelson Mandela or the lives of most of the world’s greatest inventors. A simple life is inciting because it is void of overwhelming unhealthy thoughts and negative meditations and allows for positivity and creativity.
M – Modest
This is the opposite of materialism. Yeah, I already know that the subject of materialism is pretty touchy but here’s my submission. Materialism exalts possessions and achievements, it places things above people. Modesty on the other hand places value on what is truly valuable.
P – Planned
A simple life is one that has been well thought out and properly organised. It is by no means a lazy life. So, I heard someone say, I have no future plans, I just live each day as it comes, my life is pretty simple. Point of correction! That is far from simple living as a matter of fact permit to call it ‘pointless living’.
L – Limitless
Just recently I was so inspired by the story of a man that was featured on EL TV’s Naija Diamonds. This man is a trader and his merchandise is electronics, he runs a successful business in the northern part of Nigeria but that apparently didn’t earn him a feature on the programme, his numerous kind and generous acts towards others did. His story taught me a lesson of the boundless joy and increasing benefits of a selfless and simple life.
E – Easy
Albert Einstein said “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself”. A huge mistake many of us make is attempting to apply the principles of solving mathematical equations to solving life’s puzzles. It doesn’t always work. Most times forget about the details and just hit the point. It’s that easy! “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” ~ Henry David Thoreau.
Yearning for effectiveness? Try simplicity! Craving calm and clarity? Try simplicity! Desiring a splendid existence? Try simplicity!
Whether it is in your thoughts, actions, possessions, desires, wants and lifestyle, it’s time to reduce the clutter and noise. Sign up for keeping things simple, focus on what really matters, let go of the rest and get on a journey of discovering more fulfillment and productivity.
If your fear of embracing the simple life is that it might reduce you to ordinary, I recommend the song ‘Ordinary People’ by Cobhams Asuquo for you.
Jesmine Chinwe Onyeukwu is a Productivity/Simplicity Coach, Speaker, Writer, Trainer and the CEO of JessylsCharm, Nigeria’s first and leading Professional Organising/Productivity Company. JessylsCharm helps clients beautify their lives, reclaim their effectiveness and boost their productivity with her space, paper and time management solutions.