power in words and pictures

The Simplicity of Enough

The Simplicity of Enough

“Nature is pleased with simplicity. And nature is no dummy” ― Isaac Newton

The clothes pile up on the bed or the chair, waiting to be put back on hangers, but set aside until a choice can be made.  So many shirts, slacks, skirts, blouses, and jackets from which to choose.  Oh, what to wear?  What tie goes best with the shirt?  A few land on the bed as the choice is narrowed down.  Out the door you go, leaving behind a whirlwind of indecision before you’ve even gotten to work or school.  Oh, the choices!  What to eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, which restaurant everyone can agree to visit, and which route is the best to get where you’re going.  Sounds simple, but we humans are the best at making life more difficult than it needs to be.

If you look at nature, you notice that birds have been flying the same way since birds began flying, flowers and plants have been sprouting out of the ground the same way they’ve been sprouting since the beginning of plants, and baby animals are born the very same way they’ve been born since the beginning of baby animals. In the world of plants and animals, the way things have always worked has been good enough to get by and to thrive. So, why don’t we just follow suit?  Sure, technology is great and has allowed us to do things at a faster pace, to be in touch with people in the blink of an eye, and to flip a switch to easily turn on several lights at once, but the speed at which things are changing is sometimes overwhelming, and the right way to do anything today might be antiquated tomorrow.   I marvel daily at the simplicity of nature, and it would seem that Sir Isaac Newton, a brilliant physicist and mathematician living in the early 1800’s, saw the value in simplicity, too.

In 2004, psychologist Barry Schwartz wrote a book titled The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less.  His basic premise was that with so many choices, we have made life less pleasing as it is filled with more anxiety over choosing.  Since his study, there have been others that refute some of the specifics, but the truth of our not knowing what to do with so much information and so many choices has remained accurate.

Painting a room?  Get ready for a large choice of paint colors because it isn’t as simple as blue, yellow or brown.  Want to be healthy, lose a little weight, and look better?  Be prepared for a variety of eating plans at your fingertips.  You read a few magazine articles, perhaps even a few books, you talk to the doctor and then a nutritionist, and at the end of a week, you are more confused than ever. The foods one expert says to eat another expert says to avoid, the exercises one trainer says you should be doing another trainer says are wrong, and the time of day one fella says to eat goes against what another says. You find so much conflicting information and so many plans from which to choose!

My brain feels overloaded just thinking of all the information that is coming at me whether I invite it into my day or not.   What about you?  Have you come to the point where you want to throw up your hands because you’ve given up on finding the best way to do whatever it is you’ve really been wanting to do?

You might love the availability of so much information and think that none of this is a problem, but let’s change the item from information to something else: food.  If we were to eat at the same rate at which we are trying to take in information, we would have an overweight society.  Oops, we do have an overweight society, which tells me that the majority of people struggle with knowing how to handle all that is available, whether it is food, information, clothing, toys, restaurants, or gadgets.  So many options for every area of life, and we often feel we are suffocating under the weight of it. We have made pawns of each other as we try to win the game, but I wonder if anyone is really ever declared the winner? If you could know everything that is out there to be known today, you would be behind by tomorrow.  Is it possible that we could look at what we have and what we know and state “It’s good enough!”?

  • Instead of finding the ‘perfect’ phone, you might decide that last year’s model is good enough.
  • Instead of being consumed with the perfect plan for weight loss, you might decide that making a few wise choices is good enough.
  • Instead of shopping for the perfect pair of shoes for the next event, you might decide that few people will be inspecting your feet and that the shoes in your closet will be good enough.

Nature is so simple.  Animals operate instinctively, and just maybe we should, too.  When life starts to feel like you are being hit with too much of anything, step back, check your sensible instincts, and decide that for right now life is good enough.

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