For Happiness, Less Really Is More: 6 Creative Ways To Actually Subtract

For Happiness, Less Really Is More: 6 Creative Ways To Actually Subtract

via Forbes by Tracy Brower

After being limited and locked down for so long, our instinct—when we’re able to fully reenter our lives—will likely be to do it all. We’ll want to re-engage in activities, reconnect with friends and colleagues and reignite our interests.

But it may not be such a great idea to jump in too quickly. Like eating too much after starving in the desert, we run the risk of overwhelming our systems and actually reducing our happiness and fulfillment. A better approach may be measured enthusiasm and restrained activity. After all, less really is more. Less activities result in greater time for reflection. Fewer belongings mean more space in our homes. A smaller number of friends translates into deeper relationships.

Our Instinct for More

But it’s natural to want to do more. According to research at the University of Virginia, our brains tend to take an additive approach. We seek to solve problems by adding features to the solution. We want to improve a recipe by adding spices. We pursue greater happiness in life by adding activities that seem rewarding. In our defense, we’ve been conditioned. Any good team member knows the value of a brainstorming session. We’ve been taught that for creativity, quantity is better than quality because often the goofy idea leads to the brilliant result.

Science demonstrates our more-is-better culture is counter-productive and it can detract from our happiness and fulfillment. Studies at Baylor University found when people were more materialistic, they tended to be less happy and satisfied. And research at Northwestern University found when people were more focused on wealth and the acquisition of more possessions, they were more depressed and anxious and had less positive relationships.

Popular culture has countered this inclination by responding that less is better, and the minimalism movement has been in full swing for years. Interestingly however, the first mention of the idea that less is more actually arose in an 1855 poem by Robert Browning. It turns out the ideal of reduction isn’t so new at all—but this doesn’t necessarily make it easy.

So how can you find greater happiness, fulfillment and satisfaction through the skill of subtracting rather than adding, especially as you dive back into life? Here are six methods:

Consider Your Identity – Make Circles

Reducing and subtracting is really a matter of making choices and your own identity is a key lens to consider. Make three circles—either on paper or in your mind—placing one inside the other. In the inner circle, consider things which are core to who you are. These are the values or activities without which you wouldn’t be you. These might be the value of family and the time you spend driving your children to school or the value of health and the yoga you do once per week. In the second circle out, place those things which are important but not core. In the third circle, place those things you enjoy but which aren’t critical to you. Use this thinking as a guide for what you might remove from your activity list over time—subtracting things further from your core and from who you are.

Consider Your Priorities – Make a List

In making choices, the tried and true list of priorities is ever-effective. Make a list of what’s most important to you, in terms of your values and the actions which support those values. Include the things on which you spend time daily, weekly or monthly. After you’ve made the list, cross off the bottom portion. Focus on the things which have more meaning so you can put your best energy into those.

The choices you make will focus your energy. After all, when you say yes to everything—every new project at work, every new opportunity, every invitation from friends or every fun activity—you can’t be your best at all of them. By saying “no” (crossing some things off of your list), you’re saying a more emphatic “yes” to the things that remain…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE