Tiny Wisdom: Taking Things Away

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” -Socrates

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from writing, it’s that knowing what to remove is often just as important as knowing what to add.

Surprisingly, it sometimes take just as much time to write something short as it does to write something long because it entails rewriting and editing to capture the most important points with the most specific words.

I’ve found that this same idea applies to other things in life: sometimes creating peace, happiness, or satisfaction has everything to do with what we choose to take away.

You can love the work you do, but if you overextend yourself, even the greatest passion can start to feel stressful and overwhelming.

You can adore your significant other, but if you spend all your time together, you’ll likely start to appreciate your relationship less and wonder what else there is.

You can value your spiritual practice, but if your life becomes all about contemplation and self-reflection, you may start to feel somewhat removed from other people and the physical world.

There are definitely times when need to do more; but sometimes the best thing we can do is scale back on what we’re already doing, create a better sense of balance and space to just be, and then see how we feel.

Last year, a writer named Allison Miller contributed a blog post about an aerial acrobatics accident that put her out of commission for months. A friend of hers suggested that this was a gift. Though she initially resisted this idea, she ultimately realized she previously stayed busy to mask her loneliness, insecurity, and emotional pain.

It was only when she couldn’t do anything that she realized what she wanted to do, and what she didn’t want to do anymore.

I’m not suggesting we should all take a hiatus from our lives, a la Eat, Pray, Love; I’m proposing that sometimes the answer has nothing to do with more and everything to do with less.

When Michelangelo finished sculpting the David, many people asked him how he created this masterful work of art. His response: “It’s simple. I took away everything that wasn’t the David.”

Our lives can be our masterpieces if we can learn to chisel away at the thoughts and choices that don’t contribute to our sense of authenticity and balance.

Photo by geishaboy500

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She’s also the author of Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, Tiny Buddha's Worry Journal, and Tiny Buddha's Inner Strength Journal and co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. For daily wisdom, join the Tiny Buddha list here. You can also follow Tiny Buddha on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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