Simplicity Is a Mindset

Years ago, I went to a pedicurist because the nails on my big toes kept chipping. She recommended I file them down straight instead of clipping them at an angle. Her method worked like a charm, and so until today, every few weeks, I file my big toenails.

Whenever I do it, however, I usually start off on the wrong foot (pun intended): I furiously saw back and forth with the file in short, quick motions — and that barely reduces the nail size at all, let alone does it in a uniform matter. Maybe it’s my way of testing the waters, or maybe I’m just anxious to get the task done, but inevitably, I’ll catch myself and remember: “Ah! Slow, steady motions. Seesaw, not chainsaw.” As soon as I change my rhythm, I can see the nail getting shorter with every stride, and on my second toe, the process takes less time.

Simplicity is, first and foremost, a mindset. We think it’s a result or an action, but unless you approach life from a simple point of view, you’ll neither take simple actions nor get simple results. You can solve complex problems with simple solutions. You can feel at ease in stressful situations. But it all starts in your head.

When I’m in a simple mindset, I won’t rush to attack the mountain of to-dos that never shrinks. I’ll take my time, do what I can, and the next day, I’ll do it again. When I’m primed for simple, I notice the little joys and feel grateful for a good cup of coffee and some sun. I’ll also cut through the clutter and focus on what matters — and that applies to big project plans as much as it applies to filing my toenails correctly from the get-go.

Why cut something that can be groomed? Why do something fast if doing it slowly is the faster option? In order to ask such piercing questions, we must first be in a simple state of mind. Cultivate simplicity in your life. Make room for it. And know that, with a little pause and reflection, it’s an option always ready for you to choose.

Now, if only we could update the definition of “simple-minded” — but perhaps that’s a project for after cutting our nails.