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Principles

Math, Life, and the Power of Subtraction

 November 26, 2019

By  David N Johnson

We’re wired for addition. It’s easier to look at our lives and see what we’re missing than it is to see what we need to take away — not feeling fulfilled? Add something to your life. Need a better job? A flashier car? How about a bigger house? If only you could add one more thing, life would be perfect.

The problem with that logic is that you’ll always need to add something. You’ll never be happy with the last thing you added, and you’ll have to keep going bigger, better, and flashier.

It’s hard to be content in a world with so much inequality. Somebody will always have something that makes you want to add it to your life. Want to know a secret? That person who seemingly has everything you want? They desire things, too. They aren’t as happy as your imagination makes them out to be. Nobody is.

Instead of looking outward and trying to figure out what to add, look inward and focus on what to subtract.

Instead of looking outward and trying to figure out what to add, look inward and focus on what to subtract.Click To Tweet

Life can be messy. It gets more complicated the more we add to it. Take a look at your life, grab pen and paper, and write out a list of things that you need to remove from your life. It could be things, a job, even people. The idea is to not think about what you need to bring into your life to create joy, but what you need to remove from it that is preventing you from achieving it.

Think of these as your blockers. It’s sometimes easier to remove a blocker than it is to bring in something new. Many times it’s these blockers that will prevent your happiness, even when you’ve added that thing you thought you needed.

Think this through. Give this idea the time it deserves, and start creating your not-to-do list. What’s preventing your happiness?

David N Johnson


David N Johnson

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