The Role of Simplicity in Balance

June 17, 2014

Are You a Circus Act?circus

Ever watched one of those circus-type shows where entertainers attempt to stay balanced while gradually adding items to be balanced? These professionals balance people on people carrying a variety of items from plates to balls to flaming sticks. They’re focused on balancing more items than any normal person can balance, and all their focus goes toward keeping those items balanced.

Unfortunately, too many of us live like circus entertainers focused on balancing, except we’re not making any money for the show we’re putting on for our friends, family and coworkers. We’re balancing – or at least attempting to – an amazing amount, but that’s all we’re pretty much able to focus on… balancing.

When focused only on balancing, we’re often unable to consider the quality of our balancing act… how much we’re dropping. Simplicity allows for better balance in that it allows us to put our focus on quality over quantity, to balance well will less drops.


What is Simplicity?

Simplicity is freedom from complexity, intricacy or division into parts. It’s the absence of luxury, pretentiousness, ornament, etc.

Simple means easy to understand, deal with, use, etc. Simple means not elaborate or artificial, not ornate or luxurious.

Simplicity looks very different from one person to another. Ask 10 people what simplicity, simple, intricacy, luxury, ornament, etc. mean to them, and you’ll likely get 10 very different answers.

Simplicity’s Role in Balance

We can get ideas, guidance, inspiration and direction from each other with regard to simplicity, but every one of us must individually discover what it looks like for us. And regardless of how simplicity looks in any individual’s life, it plays an important role in a balanced life for every person.

In my own journey toward a balanced life, simplicity plays a tremendous role in creating depth and quality in every area of life from relationships to work. But I find I can only go deeper when I take the time to simplify myself first as an individual.

Simplifying myself involves the following 5 areas:

  1. What I think about… where I allow my thoughts to dwell.
  2. The words I speak… listen more and talk less.
  3. Appearance… comfortable but respectful.
  4. Focus… God. Family. Work. (In that order.)
  5. Commitments… not spread thin and having ample margin.

When I begin to feel overwhelmed and stop to consider why, the Holy Spirit without fail goes to one or more of these areas and says, “Simplify.”

DISCUSSION: How does simplicity exist in your life? What does simplicity mean for you?

16 Responses to “The Role of Simplicity in Balance”

  1. coachmbrown Says:

    Great inspiring reminder! I would just share as my thought: just because we strive for simplicity, the task certainly does not mean our life will be simple!

  2. Chris Says:

    Kari, I agree with you. Simplicity is about having margin. A good test for me includes 1) Do I have margin in my day to pursue the things I am passionate about and to rest? 2) How am I feeling right now? If I'm tired, stressed, and overwhelmed, then it usually means I need to simplify in terms of my time commitments and obligations.
    My recent post How God Speaks in the Midst of My Consistently Inconsistent Life

  3. Deb Wolf Says:

    Amen Kari! I love your list. I'm also working on simplifying my surroundings, regularly going through closets and cupboards. It really helps with my ADD too. Since Rev is a fan of order – he loves it. Did you take the photo? It looks like the pool at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. One of our favorite places.
    My recent post Best Quotes to Inspire Patience

    • Kari Scare Says:

      Once I started simplifying my surroundings several years ago, I couldn't stop myself. Now, I almost can't keep them simple enough. While I certainly don't want to rush the high school days ahead for either of my boys, I am looking forward to downsizing and simplifying my surroundings significantly when they are both out of the house. But, I'm enjoying where they are right now. Yes, I did take the picture, and yes, it is at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. My husband and I went to St. Louis for our anniversary last month (he had a business trip there too), and that was one of our stops. Good call!

  4. TC Avey Says:

    Great post!
    God is helping me understand how I complicate my own life. I get bogged down with too much stuff, too many commitments, too many things I want to get done.

    Repeatedly I must go to the cross, let God define what's important and what are things that are "good" but not where my priorities should be focused.

    God, family, then….

    • Kari Scare Says:

      I'm my own worst enemy in this area too, TC. When I find myself overwhelmed, it's usually from what I piled upon myself. And, like you, I must also repeatedly get to God to unload and reset. He's teaching me how to live in "better" and "best" rather than just in "good." Spending time with Him regularly will keep our priorities in line with His will, which is exactly where we want to be.

  5. Mark Allman Says:

    I do think you are right when we are trying to balance so many things at the same time that none of them get the attention they deserve. We may keep them above water but they probably look like they are drowning.
    To focus on one thing and do that well means alot. I like what we have said here before and that is wherever you are be there. Be all there.

    • Kari Scare Says:

      Turning toward excellence in fewer things rather than "good enough" in many goes a long way in feeling balanced. And you're right… when we choose to "be all there," we discover a place where we can truly live instead of just get by. Thanks for bringing that point up again. Definitely applies.

  6. marymccauley Says:

    Number 5 spoke of having ample margins. This reminded me of a new book I have been previewing and have on my e reader by Bonnie Gray about Spiritual Whitespaces. She speaks of this as the margins around our lives, like the margins on a written paper. When we fill all the space on the page it gets to congested to read and certainly is not attractive. I am looking forward to reading more of her book and I can see how this and your blog about simplicity link together and will be helpful in my life._

    • Kari Scare Says:

      I read a book a while back called "Ordering Your Private World" by Gordon MacDonald that speaks to this very topic. It helped me reorder myself during a very difficult time. Another book, one I'm currently reading, is "What's Best Next" by Matt Perman. This one talks about Christian time management and is helping tweak some areas in my life. Having margins is so very crucial for us in almost uncountable ways. Keep me posted on what you read.

  7. Dan Black Says:

    Great analogy here! We can't over task our self's because that can be a disaster. My list is God, family, work, and building my online platform. Lately I've had to cut back on posting new blog posts and reading/commenting on other blogs due to focusing on the more important areas of life. Love this series.

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