The Magic of Subtraction

HOW DOING LESS ADDS MORE

from March 24, 2021

You are probably thinking: We have been living with a global pandemic for over a year now, and most of us just want to be free to enjoy doing more, not less!

Yes, we have all been in a strange version of overdrive. The world has collectively experienced an impossible dilemma of uncertainty, fear and grief.

The impact of social isolation has left its mark on everyone, and our nervous systems continue to respond to the very real threats that remain. This dynamic often numbs our natural creativity and ability to notice the small wonders right in front of us. 

One ancient strategy for finding more safety and joy is to practice the magic of taking away to add more.

I originally wrote this post in 2018 and believe that its message is especially relevant right now. Thanks for reading.
________________________________________________________________
 
The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu’s words echo in my mind:
To attain wisdom, subtract things every day. 

For most of my life, I was unaware of this powerful message. In fact, I defined myself by just how much I “had” to do each day and “how much” I wanted to accomplish.
 
I prided myself on my exceptional ability to multi-task and felt strangely uncomfortable if I actually concentrated on only one thing at a time. 

I believed this way of life was absolutely necessary for me. After all, I was working, raising three children (part of the time as a single parent) managing a household, etc.  This lifestyle is common for most of us.

Our culture tends to reinforce the belief that filling every moment of our day with activities is a sign of value and significance. It seems that so many of us are on a perpetual treadmill with no finish line and little real purpose.

Our mindbody system often rebels against this pattern of self- induced pressure and lack of rest by manifesting chronic painful physical and emotional symptoms.

When we keep pushing harder; the body usually screams louder, creating a vicious cycle of pain and anxiety.  This was certainly true for me.

BUT…… as Lao Tzu reminds us, there IS another way
to approach our daily lives.

Can we actually be more productive and experience greater joy when we radically shift our relationship with our To Do Lists?  The answer is a resounding YES! 

We can consciously create a Don’t Do List designed to eliminate the tasks that keep us frantically doing, when what we really need is to practice being.
 

Consciously examine your To Do List and purposefully find something to subtract. Then, practice adding moments of stillness to your day which activate and free your creative, healing energy while unlocking your inner wisdom.

Your mind, body, heart, and spirit reconnect stimulating your imagination and mental agility as they unleash your full potential!

Study your To-Do List and imagine you are reading it years from now, moments before your own peaceful death. Which of the items on the list feel affirming? Which mean nothing? 

Here are some simple ways to incorporate these concepts into your day:

1. Take regular breaks to move your body, and breathe deeply while allowing your mind to soften and unwind.

2. Schedule moments of stillness each day for as little as one to ten minutes at a time.  Allow yourself to be present with this experience without judgment –  just notice whatever unfolds.

3. Connect with nature in whatever way you can.

4. Make sure to enjoy something deliciously delightful each day …gathering with friends/family if possible, playing/cuddling with your pet, walking in the park, lighting a fragrant candle, witnessing a magnificent sunset, listening to your favorite music, etc.

Less truly IS More…..and as always –
Remember, YOU hold the Key!

Elaine

Comments are closed.

Site designed by Websmacked.