Voluntary Essentialism

“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” —Greg McKeown from ‘Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less’

In times of confusion and difficulty, often the only things we have to fall back on are our principles, our beliefs, and those things we hold to be most essential in our lives. While it is in times of trial and hardship that these become most apparent, it is in the good times, in the times of plenty, when our options are many, that we should contemplate and prioritize what is most important to us lest we find ourselves distracted by choices and possibilities unable to decipher what is essential from what is not.

When things are going well, we should always take a moment to step back and ask ourselves what of the things we have now we can live without. If we can learn to do this during the good times, doing so during the bad times will not be as difficult. We must all know for ourselves what is essential to our survival, our well-being, and our quality of life versus what is simply desirable and pleasurable.

By focusing on what matters most to us, even when we have everything, we will have more clarity when we experience loss. Without knowing this truth about our lives, it may be determined for us at some point by misfortune, unforeseen circumstances, or other people’s choices. It is infinitely better to choose to live with less when we can than to not know how to live with less when we must.

Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh (artist unknown, unless otherwise noted).

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