We sometimes think that life will get better if we have more, but the reality is that life usually improves with subtraction, not addition.
Hi, this is Steve Johnsen and I want to talk to you today about a distinction called “More versus Less.”
A distinction is something that you see about how things work in life, and once you see it, you get it. It’s not necessarily a fact you learn or a new piece of information, but it’s something you have to see.
This distinction today, “More versus Less,” can also be called “Addition versus Subtraction.”
A lot of times you might think, “Life will get better if I add more things to my life.”
“Life will get better if I have a boat.”
“Life will get better if I have a second car.”
“Life will get better if I add a new gadget.”
“Life will get better if I add a new activity.”
“Life will get better if I add more friends.”
“Life will get better if I sign up for a dance class.”
But the reality is that very often life gets better not with more but rather with less?if I get rid of some of my stuff, if I don’t have that boat, if I don’t have this extra stuff sitting around my house, if I don’t have the second car or the third car. Or if I drop some of the activities out of my life and drop some of my responsibilities, then I find that all of a sudden I’m much more creative and I’m much more free.
We think that if we go and get a new toy, that will make us happier. As parents, we noticed something very surprising with our children. The more toys we gave them, the less happy they were. They were happiest when they only had a few toys.
And it wasn’t just toys, or “stuff.” We think people will be happier with more entertainment, but that’s just not true. Children who watch one hour of TV a week, generally speaking, are much, much happier that those who watch several hours a day. The one show is really special for them. And they learn to be happy and productive with the time in between.
The same is true for activities. Running from school?to dance class?to soccer?to piano lessons?to tae kwon do?to ceramics?to the modeling coach?is a formula for stress, not for happiness.
Not only children are happier with less, but adults are too. Let’s say I want to go do some camping and I want to go buy an RV. I go buy my RV and I’m so happy. I’m going to take it out and go camping.
But once I have the RV, I’ve got to deal with finding a place to park it. It’s not allowed in my neighborhood. And I have to do a lot of maintenance that takes time out of my day. Then, after going on five camping trips in two or three months, it really kind of loses its appeal, and maybe I don’t want to go quite so often. There are other things that I want to do.
And now I’ve got this RV sitting there in my rented storage space, and I’ve got to take it in regularly for maintenance. And when I’m going to go on a trip, I have to get out the RV and get it all set up. Pretty soon I realize, “Man, this would be a lot simpler if when I want to go RVing, I could rent an RV. Or, sometimes I could go on a trip and just stay in a hotel. Or I could throw a tent in the back of my car and set up a tent.”
You see, adding stuff is not always the best way.
We can make the same mistake in our personal lives, thinking that if I add activities or add friends or add new things in my life, it will make me happier, when actually, what I really need to do is sit down and go through all the things that I am doing and all that things that I do have and consider what is really giving me pleasure and what’s really important to me and what I could just stop right now and it would free up time for something else.
Professionally, it’s subtraction, rather than addition, that is the path to success. Gary Keller wrote a book called “The One Thing” that talks about figuring out the one thing you need to do for business success, and then letting everything else go. Darren Hardy in his success course teaches something very similar. If you want to be really successful, don’t write a list of all the new things that you should add into your daily schedule. Instead, take assessment of all the things that you’re doing in your job, and figure out what you will eliminate and not do any more. You can call that your not-to-do list. In reality, your not-to-do list is so much more powerful than your to-do list!