Ease as the Antidote to Complexity

Ease as the Antidote to Complexity

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The world is becoming ever more complex to deal with. Each generation is connected to a much wider landscape than the generation before. The information explosion means that we have real-time access to everything that is going on everywhere in the world.

The trouble is that our brains are just not wired for that kind of access to so much information. From an evolutionary point of view, we are designed to interact with our immediate environment and the other members of our hunter-gatherer tribe. But now, we are exposed to thousands of messages every day, through the advertising and general information we consume. Each one of those messages has the capacity to manipulate us in some way.

Look at parenting. These days, you are bombarded by information on all the things you should be doing to develop your child, and consistently alerted to potential dangers and disaster stories. There is so much to be aware of, and so much to think about, it’s no wonder so many parents are overwhelmed and stressed, by raising children. The bar for ‘success’ seems to get higher and higher, in our striving to do things ‘right’. And yet, the collective mental and physical health of our children has never been worse.

The shift towards individualism has created opportunities, but it has also created much more pressure. Our primitive biology tries to navigate an ever more complex word. It can all be overwhelming, without some sort of way to decouple ourselves from it.

As the world gets more open, more connected and more complex, it’s only going to get worse. That’s the challenge. Without some form of regular and consistent process to make life easier, the dynamic of ever-increasing complexity is likely to oppress you.

One of my strengths is being able to find easier ways to move through life. Here are 4 of the most effective ways I have found  to counter the complexity of living, and bring ease.

  1. The 5 whys.  E.g. ‘Why am I doing this?’ Ask yourself ‘why?’ 5 times, and each time you answer, continue to ask, ‘Why?’ until you identify the first principles, or a sense of purpose. When you really understand why, you get to the essence behind your actions and thinking. The more we switch off from autopilot and learn about ourselves, the more we open ourselves up to a simpler and easier life. The outside world has the capacity to manipulate our subconscious and move us off course, over time. It is important to live in a state of consistent self-enquiry, to check you’re on a path that’s true to you.
  2. Subtraction. Practise the art of doing, having and wanting less. It is so easy to add more to our lives, but we don’t often practise the art of taking things away. Everything we do, have or desire takes energy, space and mental bandwidth. Developing a regular process to do less, have less and want less is key to making life simpler. Make space and time. Every time I buy something, I try to throw something out. Every time I commit to doing something, I try to take something away. The less you have and do, the happier you can be.
  3. The 3rd way. We often end up in binary situations of ‘win or lose’, ‘right or wrong’ etc. It doesn’t have to be black or white. A healthier state of mind comes from having the consistent belief that there’s always a 3rd way. Even if it isn’t obvious, it’s out there, waiting to be found. Conflict – whether inner or outer – makes life hard. Find smarter and easier ways to do things that create win-win scenarios, and life can be easier. 
  4. Accept and allow what is. This is possibly the most profound way of being, in a complex world. Find ways to be in the world without being triggered by things around you. How can you flow with the river of life? Whatever is happening, is it possible for you to just be? Just accept? You might find it hard to do at first, but it will get easier, with help or practice. Try Mindfulness, therapy, coaching, spiritual practice, yoga or meditation. Try sport, art or music. Find a process that allows you to live in the moment without thinking about the past or the future. In developing an acceptance of what is, and in surrendering to life, you cultivate the ability to find peace in a hurricane.

These are just a few of the methods I have found to work. There are many other ways to make life easier, or to bring yourself some ease. If you know one, I would love you to share it in the comments section below.

The world – and life – is complicated enough.

Take it easy.

Marc

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