Manifest plainness,
Embrace simplicity,
Reduce selfishness,
Have few desires.
(Lao Tzu)

SIMPLICITY IS EASY TO APPRECIATE AND HONOR, BUT IT’S QUITE DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN IN OUR LIVES. For all of us who say we need to slow down and simplify our existence, very few actually do that. There is clearly a “simplicity gap” in our lives.

During the holidays, most people stay fairly busy. In fact, the season is often so hectic we breathe a sigh of relief when the festivities are over. It’s even a “complicated” time of year: there are, it seems, too many people to greet, too many gifts to make or purchase, too many priorities that clamor for attention. The hustle and bustle are fun, of course; there’s an air of excitement about it all. But for all its other blessings, this is not a time that is noted for its simplicity.

Perhaps it is especially important at such a time to be reminded of the beauty of simplicity. It has a dignity, a cleanness, and even a power about it that are refreshing. Those persons are fortunate who have disciplined themselves to be simple — even while being busy.

Distraction is one of our greatest hindrances in being personally effective. There are so many trees, we lose sight of the forest, don’t we? There is great value, therefore, in recommitting ourselves to simplicity. Even if we don’t go as far as we should in cleaning out our clutter, it’s a big step in the right direction to recognize our distractions for what they are. There can be no real improvement if we’re not honest.

We’d probably do more to simplify our lives if we ever really experienced the benefit of focus. The habit of concentrating on what is most important is a high-leverage habit. When we turn off all the noise, prepare our minds and hearts to do good work, and then get down to the simple things that are our real business in life, wonderful things result. So as this year winds down, let’s simplify. Let’s take a paring knife to our principles, our values, and our priorities.

‘Tis the gift to be simple,
‘Tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down
Where we ought to be.
(Shaker Song)

Gary Henry — +

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