Mindful Subtraction

The power in reduction

Words by Carl Phillips

Boem Studio Knife
Photography by Alex Boem

Our culture celebrates the idea of adding. Chasing more. Doing more. Consuming more. Achieving more.

‘More of more’ is the universal rallying cry.

Often, a step in the opposite direction will serve us better.

Instead of mindlessly chasing more, we can mindfully subtract.

Eliminating those things that do not serve us, those that wear us down.

Reducing our needs. Only bringing new into our lives if it truly adds joy.

Reducing spend on material things so we can free up money for adventures and experiences.

Living within our means. Living with a healthy buffer between incomings and outgoings.

Reducing stress and the need to ‘keep up’.

Subtraction leads us to simplicity. Simplicity leads us to intentionality.

Subtraction has power. We remove the excess. We focus on the things, and people, that matter most to us.

Mindful subtraction is not about frugality or making our lives sparse. On the contrary, it’s about making space for what matters most.

Subtract and you will get more from less.

Carl Phillips

Carl is a writer and runs Frictionless Living, a site about the pursuit of simplicity to help us focus on what matters most. It’s about finding clarity in distracted times.


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Inside Minimalism is our series of exclusive essays on simple living. Each essay is written by our team of writers who are passionate about helping you craft a simpler life. Supported by their own personal experiences, we want to inspire and encourage you to clear the path of life’s stuff, so you can get to where you really want to be.

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