The Art of Simplicity: Why We Often Over-Complicate Matters

January 21, 2024

In a world that prides itself on complexity, it’s often easy to forget the beauty and efficiency of simplicity. From day-to-day decisions to major life choices, there’s a growing trend where complexity is seen as a badge of honor. But is this constant complication necessary, or are we just making things harder for ourselves?

The Lure of Complexity

Complexity often masquerades as sophistication. In professional settings, intricate solutions are frequently perceived as more valuable than straightforward ones. This mindset spills over into our personal lives too, where simple pleasures are often overlooked in the quest for something grander or more elaborate.

Social media amplifies this trend, with people constantly showcasing their “busy” and “complicated” lives. Waking up earlier than everyone else, working 15 hour days, pushing yourself until your final thread is about to break, all become revered as an acceptable norm in this delusional mentality that we must be more productive than everyone else. It seems like a silent and endless competition where the most intricate life is somehow winning. But beneath this veneer of complexity lies a fundamental question: Are we really leading better lives?

The Beauty of Simplicity

History and wisdom tell us that simplicity holds the key to contentment. Great thinkers and leaders, from Leonardo da Vinci to Steve Jobs, have emphasized the power of simplicity. The idea is not to reduce everything to the bare minimum but to strip away the unnecessary, leaving space for the essential.

In practice, embracing simplicity can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s decluttering physical spaces, for others, it’s about simplifying their schedules or emotional lives. The underlying principle is to focus on what truly matters and let go of the rest.

For me, Jack Kerouac said it best:

“The simple life has an advantage inbuilt because it simply keeps the mind clear and strong for true realizing, all the time, such as the inestimable realization that sentient beings are clever instruments of suffering here due to past sins committed in Ignorance and Karma but their true originality is the Bright Emptiness of the Void. That all this phenomena is Essential Mind manifesting sights, sounds, tastes, etc. like ripples on its surface. One day, I will find the right words, and they will be simple. I could have done better at age 3.”

– Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

The Complexity Trap

Why, then, do we fall into the trap of over-complication? There are a few reasons:

  1. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): In our hyper-connected world, the fear of missing out on experiences, opportunities, or trends can drive us to overcomplicate our lives.
  2. Peer Pressure: Societal norms and expectations often dictate that more is better. This can lead to overcomplicating our choices, from what we buy to how we plan our careers.
  3. Perceived Value: There’s a common misconception that complexity equates to value. This can be seen in everything from convoluted business strategies to intricate personal routines.

The Path to Simplicity

Embracing simplicity is a personal journey, but here are some steps to start:

  1. Identify What Matters: Take time to reflect on what’s truly important in your life. Focus your energy and resources on these aspects.
  2. Learn to Say No: You can’t do everything. Learning to say no is crucial in simplifying your life.
  3. Declutter Your Space and Mind: Physical and mental clutter can be overwhelming. Regularly decluttering both can lead to a simpler, more focused existence.
  4. Appreciate the Simple Pleasures: Find joy in simple things – a walk in the park, a quiet evening with a book, or a home-cooked meal.
  5. Question Complexity: Whenever faced with a complicated situation, ask yourself if there’s a simpler solution.


In conclusion, while complexity is an inherent part of life, it doesn’t always equate to better living. By consciously choosing simplicity where possible, we can reduce stress, increase efficiency, and find greater satisfaction in our daily lives. Let’s remember that sometimes, the simplest answer is not only the easiest but also the most profound.