We hear that phrase thrown around casually, "Less is more!" What does that really mean? Is it really true that less is more? I am not sure I am quite there yet, but I am willing to concede it just might be true from how it has played out in my life.
I talk a lot. I mean A LOT!!! I am an external processor. I organize my thoughts by saying them out loud. Great for me and not so great for others.
I am also a doer. I step up and I do, do, do. Often, its overkill in how much I do.
I also chronically multitask, even though I know I am losing time and money by multitasking.
What's my point?
Too many words can shut down connection with my fellow humans who don't process out loud. Too much doing can lead to me seeking self-worth from what I do. Multi-tasking burns valuable time, money, and brain space because I miss details and steps.
I became convinced less truly is more when I spent many days sitting next to my uncle in the hospital as he went through cancer treatment. In the beginning, I wanted to talk a lot to make sense of what he was facing and what we were going through. I wanted to do whatever I could because doing made me feel like we might beat cancer. I stretched myself to the breaking point by multitasking caring for him, my family, and keeping up with my coaching practice.
Then one day as I sat in the ICU with him, I asked one of the nurses what I should do. She gently smiled, put her hand on my arm, and said softly, "You already are doing it. He just needs to know you are nearby. You don't have to say anything. You don't have to do anything, unless he asks. Sit quietly and that is exactly what he needs."
I was too exhausted in that moment to argue or discuss, so I sat down close to his bed and held his hand.
The minutes turned into hours and I noticed my uncle was calmer and rested for longer periods of time. It made me realize my energy probably had a lot to do with his energy. My less doing and less talking and setting aside all other tasks was bringing calm to both of us. I found out later, less is more created precious moments and memories that I now carry in my heart to pull up when I miss him. We took our already dad/daughter type connection to a whole new depth and meaning because of those long stretches of simply being present.
I didn't want to leave that lesson behind when our cancer battle was over. I took it with me in between visits to the hospital and after my uncle passed.
When I find myself in the midst of frantic energy, I whisper to myself, "Less is more," and I chose one thing to focus on in that moment.
When I find my mind racing and words spilling out everywhere, I meditate or pull out some paper to write those thoughts down instead of overwhelming a friend with my chattering to make sense of my inner world.
When I find myself saying yes to everything without thought, I check in with myself and ask if I am seeking to find self-worth in my doing and remind myself no amount of doing could ever make me more worthy of love, belonging, joy, etc. I am worthy because I am human, not because I do a lot.
This is a challenging mantra in the midst of a culture that values multitasking, doing for the sake of doing, and endless discussion. However, I believe if we all practice the mantra in whatever way fits our unique personality, we might just gain cherished memories, more energy, endless creativity, and lots and lots of joy.