Why Less is More
My voice teacher (I trained to be an opera singer) loved to say it: Less is more. That always annoyed me, until I finally figured out at least some of what she meant.
I have always had a powerful voice, but when I internalized some of that power – when I sang less – I had more focus, more breath, more resonance, and more color in my voice. When I stopped pushing, my voice was more free, more agile, I had more control and more dynamic range. I could still be powerful, but I could also use the power of an intense pianissimo.
How does this work in other areas of life?
- If I own less, each item I own needs to be more useful, more suitable to my needs and wants.
- If I own a 33-item wardrobe,* each piece needs to coordinate with several other pieces. Each item needs to be of high quality. Each item needs to fit and flatter. There isn't room for something that isn't well made, doesn't go with anything else, or doesn't make me feel good when I'm wearing it.
- If I own less of everything, each item needs to add more value to my life. There's no place for a chair no one sits in because it's uncomfortable (even if it was an expensive purchase), no room for a chunky block of knives if all I ever use is the ultra-versatile chef's knife, no need for stuff that clutters every surface when what's really important to me is the beautifully framed photo of my children. In fact, that lovely photo is more noticeable because it sits alone on a side table.
- If my schedule is less cluttered, I have more energy for the things I choose to do. I can give each activity more attention. I have more free time, which both requires and enables me to be more creative. I have more space in my life for spontaneity. Most importantly, I have more time for people. Less social obligation, more deep relationships! It's a wonderful paradox.
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I could go on.
How about less processed and junky food, more health, energy, and general well-being? Less TV, more conversation, long walks, and sleep? Not to mention less exposure to advertising, more contentment and more savings.
Having less leaves room for more of what matters.
Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the remove of anything that distracts us from it.
Updated March 2023