Tuesday, September 4, 2012

More or Less . . . (#5 of 11)

When I apply my face makeup, I recite what my esthetician told me about how to keep it looking natural. 
“Less is more,” she said.

“Less is more,” I recite to myself, as I dab on the tinted moisturizer, fluff on the powder, make a pass with the mascara wand, and take in the total effect.

She was right. Too much makeup isn’t pretty, because it’s neither natural nor necessary.

It’s easy enough to hold back with makeup, but in other areas of life I fall into the common trap of thinking that if a little bit is good, then a lot must be better, and too much . . . well, that must be the best! And so, along with many other Americans, I too often eat too much, spend too much, and fill my space and my life with a superfluity of things I love –  books, clothes, food, culinary equipment, musical instruments, electronics and media – and cabinets, containers, and furniture in which to store them.

Because more is better, right? And temptation is strong.

The expression “less is more” doesn’t really make sense, of course (less is exactly what the word means: less), but when something is good, I’m apt to crave more of it. I tell myself that less is more, in order to be able to stop at less and know I’ve come out ahead.

I have always been attracted to places and things that are furnished and decorated precisely enough, with no excess, but I’ve found that condition difficult to achieve and maintain. Now, in my ongoing search for the simpler life, I have discovered a guru of simplicity, Leo Babauta. His website is the essence of minimalism, a bare white background with the sparest of text.

His blog, Zen Habits, which claims over 250,000 followers, is also a model of “less is more.” He describes his focus as “finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives . . . clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness.”

Mr. Babauta is the author of many books with titles such as: The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life and Zen Habits: Handbook For Life. I’m starting with one of his first, The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential...in Business and in Life, in which he explains 6 Principles of his art:

  1. Set limits.
  2. Choose what is essential.
  3. Simplify
  4. Focus
  5. Create new habits.
  6. Start small

Given his popularity and productivity, his ideas for simplicity seem well worth considering. I, for one, plan to memorize his list and put it to work. I’ll let you know how I do.

(To be continued next week.)  


  1. My brother is a cyclist and rides in the country in CT for miles and miles, he wears an ID bracelet with his wifes name and phone number but on the inside of the bracelet he had etched he favorite saying "ANYTHING WORTH DOING IS WORTH OVER DOING" My brother is extremely OCD and a workaholic perfectionist. Poor guy !!! Must be exhausting to be him, he's just like his dad ! When Ghandi was asked what he thought of Western Civilization he answered, "I think it's a good idea"

  2. I guess his motto is the opposite of "less is more," I've tried his way all my life, and I must admit it has taken me far (no pun intented!). But I'm really tired of life being so difficult even at its best, and I'm ready to try UNDER doing. I'll let you know how it goes.

  3. Carole again, AKA ANON, I just thought of the saying EVERYTHING MUST GO it seems like that is a good motto for you at this point, it is truly a fun challenge to accomplish what you are accomplishing, and so hard, in fact, when I go back to the east coast, I am going to "try" I say "try" because I seem to have a story or an excuse behind every stupid thinkg I posess. As my storage unit - ahhh, if onnly they could speak... I am surprised no one has yet brought up the quote by Mother Theresa, "I want to live simply so that others can simply live" Meanwhile, every time I go to the dumpster to throw out real garbage, I look for treasures others have thrown out.

  4. PS, you want to know what I want to get rid of the most in my life? Of course you do, S T R E S S

  5. Does clutter contribute to stress? For me, I think the answer is yes, and yet I know that for others clutter just disappears into the background. My husband pointed out today that we could walk away from our house and everything in it and be just fine. It wouldn't take much to replace what we really need . . . toothbrushes, underwear, jeans, shirts, etc. . . . . and I realize he's right. So . . . why don't I just walk away from it all? It's so tempting, that's how much all this "stuff" upsets me.

  6. darn darn and I repeat darn good question, the "problem" is you have a choice, and when you have a choice you have ot make a choice

  7. I. Choose. To. Downsize, declutter, and make space, lots of space, in my life.
    This is my choice.
    Thanks for giving me the mantra I need.