Each year, when the warm weather arrives my wife and I take evening walks in our neighborhood.
We have noticed an interesting trend over the last few years.
Vehicles have migrated from being inside the garage to permanently outside. In fact, most of our neighbors have stated they have no room in their garage for their vehicles.
Though the average home square footage has increased over the years, we still do not have sufficient room for intended use of areas such as the garage.
It seems counterintuitive that businesses have come to understand that less is more with terms like “addition by subtraction” and yet we don’t do the same when it comes to our personal lives and settings.
The reason is that we are wired to add items to fix problems rather than subtract.
Here’s an example –
How did you learn to ride a bike? Most likely you added training wheels and then you slowly got used to the balance and pedaling. Today most kids learn to ride with balance bikes. The transition to pedaling is a snap! Balance bikes are a brilliant concept. All we did was remove the pedals, yet it took many years to come up with this concept.
When faced with a problem we tend to select solutions that involve adding new elements rather than taking existing components away.
Why do we overlook subtraction?
What researchers uncovered is that we overlook subtraction when we get overburdened schedules or when we get too busy!
The Netflix Show “Tidying Up” is a good illustration of this.
Marie Kondo goes into a home and essentially subtracts items from homes and the homeowners are incredibly grateful referring to the process as life changing. They could not see on their own what subtraction could do to make their lives more fulfilling.
Studies show that when we are under a cognitive load, meaning distracted, or attention is taken up by another task, it does not occur to us that we could solve the task by removing versus adding.
When we are overburdened, we miss out on the opportunity to make our lives more fulfilling and efficient by using subtraction (decluttering, making room for our cars in the garage, etc)
When we have more time or attention to give, we are more likely to find efficient solutions.
Now that you know that taking things away doesn’t naturally befall on us, find time to think about redundancies and what “pedals” you can remove in your home and personal life.
Gratitude is much easier when we have less stuff!
Have a great weekend, Karl
It’s hard to be grateful for what you own when you are overwhelmed with what you own.
To gain knowledge add things every day, to gain wisdom subtract things every day. Lao Tzu