Living a simpler life has become a key theme in the past decade. Ideas and techniques abound for how we might achieve this, ranging from how to simplify day-to-day routines to how to decrease the demand for resources we place on the planet. I constantly meet people who are eager to simplify, yet the world seems to be increasingly complex. Complexity has taken over how we attempt to get things done in organisations, communities and governments. We can’t seem to do anything simply anymore. Making a decision, creating a plan, holding a meeting — all of these now involve complex and time-consuming processes. And it is our own doing! So, let’ take Key Steps together this week and answer a critical question…

Why do we complicate life?

1. Have we become suspicious about anything that isn’t difficult? I recently went to the chiropractor because of a bout of headaches. She worked her magic and suggested that I do some very basic neck stretches to strengthen my neck. She said it would sort out the problem I was experiencing. Two weeks after my appointment, I realised I hadn’t attempted a single exercise. When I asked myself why, I was appalled by my answer – the exercises seemed too simple to actually work. What a crazy thought! Too simple!? Yet it seems I am not alone. Recent research has shown that many people hold a belief that things have to be complex to be effective when the opposite is actually true.

In fact, scientists are taught to seek the best solution using the rule of Occam’s Razor: when there’s a choice between two possibilities, choose the simpler one. In Science, these simple solutions are called “elegant”. Because the beauty of the universe expresses itself in simplicity.

2. Can we face realising we’ve wasted our time? There may be another reason why we hesitate to believe in simple solutions: it’s always hard to acknowledge that we’ve wasted our time. If something is so simple, why have we invested so much time and money in a complicated method? We stay invested in what’s complicated just because it took so much of our time, money or effort.

Sounds crazy doesn’t it? But I am sure, like me, you can relate to falling into these traps, can’t you? It is a big challenge to reverse the movement toward complexity. Or is it? Maybe it is a simple as saying it is simple and then keeping it simple. So drop your suspicions and de-invest in the complex. Try it this week and you can…

“be the difference that makes the difference