The beauty of simplicity

Life can be confusing to many. If we learn to simplify, we can learn to make life beautiful and useful to others. Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

Simplicity is the apparent lack of complexity of a person, system or thought.  I say ‘apparent’, because complexity is a very subjective thing.  What is, to one person, an easy thing to witness or contemplate, can be, to another person, hideously complicated.  Simplicity brings relief from the problems of complexity.  Complexity takes unnecessary energy away from a thinking being.

An aspect of the modern scientific method, is the search for simpler solutions to problems.  The idea is that, when faced with a problem that is difficult to solve, it is wise to consider, first, explanations that require fewer assumptions, and ultimately less brain-work.  (Scientists still have to wrestle with complexity, and sometimes they have to travel via many worlds of complex assumptions… but, ultimately, they are seeking to make the universe presentable and useable to their fellow beings, ideally in the form of simple, rationalised outcome-patterns or explanations.)

An attribute of good music is the incorporation of the richness and complexity of sound into a simple-appearing framework that brings out that richness in an accessible format.  This is the essence of some artistic beauty – the complexity is still there, but the artist has brought it together in such a way that our perception can access it in an unusually easy manner.

In the same way, writers will often use their abilities to consolidate the richness and variety of life into a story or poem which gives the reader a surprisingly wide vision, but via a surprisingly concise representation.

Where the spiritual life is concerned, wise sayings are often those which manage to include the experience of a whole lifetime in a single, small, pithy set of words.  Life remains complex, but really good wise sayings give us a sense of almost instant intellectual or emotional relief, because they cut through the apparent messiness of existence to something which we can use for our own self-development. 

Designers, too, know the value of simplicity.  Often, in making the design, the designer has gone on a long journey through many complexities of physics, gravity, light, colour, heat, sound, perception, emotion… and has finally found, in a hard-won battle, a blueprint that seems to cut through all the difficulty, and has produced a new and original product that has beauty and utility combined.

Can you bring simplicity to your life?

Can you take some science to your behavioural problems, and find some simple ways of managing yourself and your thoughts?

Can you be like a composer, and arrange your home, your work, your mind, and your friendships so that the complexity is still there, but brought together in an easily accessible way, so that your life seems manageable and somewhat beautiful?

Can you learn to ‘write’ your life, in your words or journals, to give yourself and others wider vision, but in simpler form?

Can you collect together wise sayings which seem, to you, to cut through the apparent messiness of your existence, to something which helps you in your own self-development.

Can you apply the principles of good design to your life, making sense of your long journeys through suffering, until you have, in your own person, something which helps others to face the world with good grace?  Can you make it easier for others to be happy?  Can you help them find useful meaning in life?  Can you help them to simplify their own lives, and make them more manageable?

There is, perhaps, nothing better than being able to help others to find simplicity, to gain insight into what, at times, can seem a scarily confusing world.