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Isn't it time you lived more simply?

Brian Draper unpacks the principles behind his new book Less is More ...

I don't know about you, but I’m tired.

I’m tired of feeling stressed;
I’m tired of feeling pulled in a hundred directions at once, by so many seemingly urgent tasks;
I’m tired of e-mails pouring in like water to a sinking ship;
I’m tired of not being ‘present’ to my family;
I’m tired of other people not being present to me, fiddling with their phones, while I pour out my heart …

And I’m just tired of being tired.

There must be more to life than this, mustn’t there?

There must be more to work life than stress-filled days from which we can never truly switch off. There must be more to home life than just surviving to the end of the week. There must be more to church life than an endless round of meetings.

But while our desire for ‘more’ is good, and God-given – Ecclesiastes says that “God has set eternity in the hearts of all people”, after all – our automatic, programmed response is to go out and try to increase the quantity of what we have.

We work more,
to earn more,
to buy more,
to fill our life with more,
to achieve more, and thus
to try to become more along the way …

It’s as if we simply don’t know any other way to respond! We lack the spiritual imagination, individually and as a culture, to do much else. But – have you noticed – the harder we try to get more, the less we end up with? In fact, we end up with less of what matters most. Peace. Space. Joy. Wonder. Creativity. Time.

It’s almost as if there’s a law at work. Could it be that God created the universe to behave differently from the way we expect it to?

Imagine, for a moment, that God made our world to be a counter-intuitive place that works in an upside-down kind of way (in the same way as the Sermon on the Mount turns our received wisdom upside down).

What if this true version of reality – let’s call it God’s kingdom – is a place in which you gain more by having less; and in which you achieve more by striving less?

What if you were able to go further in life by stopping more frequently? What if you could get to where you really want to get to in life faster by slowing down?

Imagine if you could end up having more by learning to let go of everything you believe is yours!

Call and response

On the shimmering, shiny surface of contemporary life, there’s a feverish call and response at work. The consumerist world of ‘more, bigger, faster’ shouts to us from every billboard and magazine cover and TV show; in the meantime, our fragile ego responds by saying, yes please, I need more, bigger, faster, and I’m willing to pay with my life.

Deeper down, however, there is a gentle, whispered call and response, if you listen very carefully – between our true, made-in-the-image-of-God self, and the winsome Spirit of life, God’s Spirit at work in the world.

If we pause for long enough, if we turn the music down low enough, if we turn the phone off for once, then we may begin to find ourselves tuning in to a counter-intuitive, unforced way of living and being in which less is truly more.

Shhhh!

The best things in life really are free.

The simplest things are the most profound.

Silence speaks to us more eloquently than thousands of words…

It’s the hardest thing in the world to stop, and be still, and listen, and travel more lightly. You have to fight hard for the space; you need to be brave to go against the flow, to dare to be different.

But once you are there, it’s the easiest space to inhabit. There, you can let go of all the false expectations that are placed on you. There, you can let go of the masks and personas you use to pretend to be someone you’re not.

There, you can discover who you really are, beneath all the layers. And you discover that God has been waiting patiently for you there – here – all along.

There must be more to life than this, mustn’t there?

Quality.

• Brian Draper is author of Less is More: Spirituality for Busy Lives. He speaks and writes on spirituality, leads retreats and is a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day.

For more info, visit www.spiritualintelligence.co.uk
 

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