The Plus of Subtraction

December 5th, 2023 by Kelly Kienzle

We have spent our whole lives adding.  We have added expectations, goals and beliefs to our plans for the future.  We have added jealousies, regrets and unfulfilled desires to our evaluation of our pasts.

The sum result of these additions is an overbearing load that we struggle to carry.  And so we feel exhausted by our load, a load of our own creation.  Ironically, we also feel disappointed and frustrated that we cannot carry it, which is another addition.

Practicing Subtraction

What if instead we practiced subtraction?  Imagine if we stripped away those regrets, such as for a happy holiday gathering.  Or we eliminated the goal of writing this article every month.  Or we nixed the belief that we can manage any load if we try hard enough.

What if we subtracted it all from our lives?  What would remain?

For me what would remain is the present moment.  I would be fully in the here and now.  I would not be mourning my past actions.  I would not be looking to the future of my expectations.  I would simply be in the present.

Managing Abundance

We often live in abundance – – an abundance of material goods, scheduled events, and people in our lives.  While a certain amount of these enrich our lives, when have we passed the beneficial tipping point?  When is it time to subtract something from our lives?

I believe one way to know when it is time to subtract is when subtraction allows what remains to stand out in beautiful relief from what had once obscured it.

If I subtract 2 glasses from my crammed kitchen cupboard, I can better appreciate (and reach) my favorite mugs.

If I remove one available slot from my overfilled weekly client calendar, I can more easily see and connect with my clients who remain for that week.

If I eliminate one goal for personal improvement, I am enabled to focus successfully on what remains.

Subtract to Almost Zero

Subtract until there is nothing left except what is in front of you. And then you will be facing what is most important to you, in this moment.

What might you subtract?  What would you gain if you did?

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