“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Hans Hofmann
Simplicity is my word for 2018. The term showed up in a private Facebook message from a friend asking about my blog. Agnes and I talked about growing our readership, then she added, “… while keeping it simple.”
The word “simple” stood out, which is typically how finding my word for the year happens. It simply shows up and I know it. I wasn’t totally convinced it was the word, though, until I was sick a couple of days later.
When I didn’t feel well, I kept things simple. I slept when I was tired. I ate when I was hungry. I gave myself permission to only do what was necessary, like the quote at the beginning says. I set out to accomplish one or two things on my to-do list instead of 10.
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Confucius
My day felt manageable even though I felt bad. I didn’t have enough energy to complicate it. Looking back, I completed more tasks on my sick day than on the days leading up to it. Looking back makes me wonder what I could accomplish if I practiced simplicity on the days I felt good.
Since 2012, I’ve chosen a word for the year in place of making resolutions. It dawned on me how simple a practice this has been, taking one word to work on for 365 days. Here’s my list since I began in 2012.
2015 Revise, Momentum
When I looked up simplicity, it had more to offer than I anticipated and probably more than I can imagine for 2018.
Simplicity @ Merriam-Webster
- The state of being simple, uncomplicated, or uncompounded
- Innocence and sincerity
- Freedom from pretense; candor
- Directness of expression; clarity
- Restraint in ornamentation; austerity
Synonyms @ Thesaurus.com: ease, straightforwardness, naturalness, openness, effortlessness, easiness, minimalism, cleanness, and clean lines.
Antonyms @ Thesaurus.com: complexity, complication, and difficulty.
Keeping life simple means in the place of telling my husband I don’t want to hear a family member tell the same story, one I don’t agree with, a dozen times, I directly say to them, “I don’t want to listen to this anymore.”
Rather than discussing with family and friends the quandary of getting our own lives, I’m candid about a self-imposed deadline I didn’t meet. I reset it and finish my book proposal this month.
Instead of agonizing about buying fewer presents for our family at Christmas and rallying for a consensus, I restrain myself (except with our grandbabies, of course) and simply buy fewer presents.
I minimize confusion in my head by focusing on one thing to accomplish today. I worry less if others disagree with what I say and write. I set boundaries about how long I’m online and honor them. When I don’t want to participate, I say “no thanks.” When I do, I show up.
These things sound as simple as sleeping when I’m tired, like on my sick day, if only I lived so simply.
I keep work simple. I do what my husband suggests when he’s editing my blog posts. He asks about a sentence or paragraph that’s unclear, “What were you trying to say here?” I explain it simpler and he says, “Then why don’t you just write that?”
And painting too – I paint in grays because gray is my favorite color.
“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.” Frederic Chopin
I believe God meant our lives to be simple (humble is its synonym). My dear friend Betty used to say, “Your first thought is from God and then you mess it up.” She sounded negative until I noticed how right she was.
I write down my next day’s plan before I go to bed, but then I mess it up. I intend to start my morning with an inspirational reading instead of Facebook. I mean to shower before answering emails. I promise myself I’ll walk before sitting down to work …
But then I mess it up.
That is, unless I keep my day simple and listen to what Betty suggested – do the first thing I think about before I mess it up.
It’s simple when we don’t get in our own way.
I’m practicing “simplicity” starting now and into 2018, so I’ll keep you blog posted. Feel free to choose simplicity as your word too and we’ll share our progress. Or let me know your word so we can work towards making next year simply the best it can be.
Do you need to simplify life by choosing one word for the upcoming year? What word makes the most sense to work towards during 2018?
In This Together,