What you remove is more important than what you keep
Less is more
We all want to be more productive, more focused, more creative, achieve more, and be more.
We learn a new skill, a new language, a new app, a new technique in the hope that when we master it, it will be the holy grail. Finally, we’ll be “complete”
Except it isn’t
You already know a lot, done a lot, and experienced a lot, the problem is that you don’t use it.
So, instead of trying to learn more stuff, use 1% of what you already know.
You already know how to use Zoom, Slack, Canvas, UX, Python, WordPress, Mathlab, Todoist, Trello, Scrivener. So pick one, become an expert, and forget about the rest.
It’s not really about skills, tools, or learning, it’s about following the “Via Negativa” method — instead of focusing on what to do, focus on what not to do.
Instead of finding the perfect diet — Eat less or fast
Instead of finding more ways to make money — Spend less
Instead of finding the perfect medicine — Lead a healthy life
Instead of dealing with stress — Eliminate the source
In his book Antifragile, Nassim Taleb describes the concept of Via Negativa and defines it as wisdom through subtraction.
So knowledge grows by subtraction much more than by addition — given that what we know today might turn out to be wrong but what we know to be wrong cannot turn out to be right, at least not easily. If I spot a black swan (not capitalized), I can be quite certain that the statement “all swans are white” is wrong. But even if I have never seen a black swan, I can never hold such a statement to be true.”
Since WWII, all the progress made by anti-cancer treatments has saved countless lives. Still, that’s a lot less than the lives that could have been saved by eliminating tobacco.
The Wim Hoff method can make you healthy with just cold showers and breathing exercises.
Jordan Peterson got rid of autoimmune disease by eating just meat, nothing else.
There are countless examples of simplification as a vehicle to gain depth. Apple, Google, and Tesla are companies built in the model of saying no to 99% of the options
The power of saying No
Every time you no to something you are saying yes to something else. Saying No can save you a lot of stress, anxiety, guilt, and time and it will give you the biggest superpower: Focus.
So, start saying No to meetings, opportunities, skills, dates, parties, and focus only on one thing: Yourself.
Ways to use Via Negativa
- Don’t buy a car, use public transport Uber or rent
- Don’t buy a house — Rent
- Don’t exercise to lose weight — Eat less and walk
- Don’t decide what you want — Decide what you don’t want
- Don’t get divorced — don’t marry anyone in the first place
Ah, if only was so easy… well, it is! Before you do anything follow the via negativa and you will save yourself a lot of hassle.