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Less is more


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Diario de Navarra and Heraldo de Aragón

Gerardo Castillo Ceballos

School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra

We live in a society focused on doing more, having more, consuming more. The fear of missing out has become stressful. The Cambridge dictionary defines it as: "A feeling of worry about missing out on interesting events that other people will attend, especially caused by things seen on social networks".Orbium, a center for addiction treatment, argues that this feeling responds to "the irresistible need to be continuously connected to the Internet and actively participate in networks for fear of being excluded and missing out on experiences". Psychologist Svend Brinkmann, in his book The Joy of Missing Out on Things, proposes that we recover moderation and self-control in order to learn to distinguish between the important and the trivial. For example, to let go of the choices and temptations of our consumer society in order to achieve a more satisfying way of life and a better connection with ourselves and others.

Svend Brinkmann's work is part of the counterculture of "less is more", a term attributed to the architect Mies Van der Rohe, although today it is used generically in the world of the arts and design. It is one of the slogans of the style or artistic movement known as minmalism.

Minimalism aims to reduce works to the essential, which, applied for example to our daily lives, means reducing the use and consumption of material goods to a minimum. To reduce something to what is substantial, it is necessary to strip it of accessory or excess elements. A good simile of this process is to defoliate an artichoke. The heart of the artichoke is the most valued and appreciated part of this plant. It is the center of the inflorescence, the most fleshy and tender part of the artichoke found inside the leaves. It is obtained by removing the outer leaves, exposing the soft and delicious heart.

Minimalism goes beyond having or not having material things. It is a lifestyle that invites us to live with what is truly necessary. By eliminating the unnecessary things of everyday life, excesses are suppressed and we start living in a simple and calm way, focused on what really matters. Existential minimalism is the application of minimalism in all aspects of daily life, from the products we consume to personal relationships. A minimalist person is against uncontrolled consumerism and is in favor of a more sustainable development .

Likewise, a system educational based on "less is more" reduces the excess of behavioral rules. It is impossible to comply with all of them; it is more realistic to have fewer, because it makes it easier to comply with them. This is also applicable to the excess of topics or lessons in a subject. It is preferable to go deeper into some issues than to have a superficial view of all of them. Beatriz Sánchez, journalist and politician, explains how to read a book in a minimalist way: "Reading more is not always better. And this from the crazy woman who has done online trainings to read three books of different literary genre in a week. My focus was totally scattered and my mind full. It was hurting it and I couldn't enjoy it as much as focusing on one book. I cut down, fortunately, on my reading." Bruce Lee maintains that voluntary simplicity is the core topic of brilliance. Living with less to do better. It involves setting priorities and eliminating non-essentials. In other words: identify the essential and banish the rest. For Marie Kondo, "living with less" is an art that can be learned: "If you feel that your life is a mess, that you don't get to everything and that you have no peace, perhaps the solution begins by tidying up your closet, or by getting rid of the belongings that take up space and peace of mind". Marie invented the KonMari method, which is trending on social media. In one of the episodes of her Netflix series, she teaches a married couple with two young children how to manage stress by sorting their clothes and discarding what they don't need.