The secret of simplicity is simple, but not easy. Simplicity is about distilling our lives to its essence, and that means we have to be willing to let go.
To let go of things and commitments, of regrets and wishes, and to let go of our ideas about what a perfect life should look like.
We may let go of old possessions so we can have more space in our homes. We may let go of some commitments so we can focus on more important ones. We may even let go of old regrets so we can look towards the future.
Letting go doesn’t mean we let go of the good we already possess. It doesn’t mean we let go of our responsibilities, our common sense, and our ambitions.
Letting go doesn’t mean we suppress our desires and make ourselves feel bad for wanting them. Suppressing feels heavy, as if we’re bottling something inside. Letting go feels light, as if a weight has been lifted.
We also don’t let go just for the sake of letting go. We let go when we realize we need to say no to something, so we can say yes to something more important.
Letting go means we become more aware of our choices. If we choose to hang on, at least we know we’re hanging on. If we choose to let go, then we know we’re letting go.
But letting go is difficult, because it means you have to be willing to figure out what’s important to you, instead of acting on what’s important to others.
It means you have to be willing to hit pause on the natural instinct to want more, more and more.
It means you have to be willing to say no to some really good things, in order to say yes to the great.
So why do it? Why bother simplifying when it takes so much work?
Because we only have so many hours left in our lives, and there exists far more that we can do than we will ever be able to. Simplicity gives us a space to focus on the things that value most to us, by letting go of those things that don’t.
Remembering the limited time we have helps open the door into living more simply. When we realize that we can’t have it all and do it all, it helps us pare down the inessential in our lives.
There are many tactics that can help you create a simpler life, and I’ll be writing more about them. But all the decluttering and planning in your life won’t help you to simplify, if you aren’t willing to first let go.
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. Antoine de Saint-Exupery