Five Ways Less is More (Part 1)

Five Ways Less is More (Part 1)

Many of us grow up seeing and hearing and learning to seek more and more and we are not taught that Less can be More. As we move through our lives, we fill our homes, our bodies, our time, our lives with stuff, food, distractions, and unneeded angst. Believing or saying that Less is More is antithetical to consumerism culture that surrounds us; however, for many of us, the experiences of the last few years have given a radical jolt in our belief systems.

During the pandemic, many of us did not have to dress up for work, host big parties, go to the gym, commute to work or travel long distances; nor did our calendars get crammed with recreational activities and social obligations. We faced restrictions and limitations on what we acquired, where we went and who we spent time with and we asked ourselves, moving forward, what we really need and what we want our lives to be about.

As our MMSNorCal coaches also mulled over what they had and what they wanted and how they managed with less, they discovered that often, Less is More.

In part 1 of this two-part series on how Less is More, the coaches share their thoughts and observations on how having and doing less led them to realize much much more.

1. Less Clutter Equals More Space

Our homes are cluttered with clothes, bags, books, office supplies, plastic containers, empty bottles, bathroom products, cleaning supplies, old bedding, extra bath towels and much much more. Many times we put off getting rid of stuff because it can be overwhelming. In fact, many of us have to make a comitment to declutter. Or, we may need professional help. That’s the reason why NAPO– a U.S.-based association of professional organizers and productivity professionals, exists.

“This process of purging takes time for me and I find myself procrastinating because I don’t like things going into the landfill”, says Coach Muriel Murphy, “With so many people in need, I now fill brown paper grocery bags with useful items and take them to homeless and tent communities nearby, hoping they can help someone, instead of taking up space in a landfill.”

For Coach Lindsey Taylor-Vivier, “Climate change is something that inspires me everyday to make thoughtful decisions about everything like buying clothes, to what I put in my refrigerator. I used to be the person at the cash register who would add the items around me at the last moment. I don’t do that anymore. I am mindful when I make any purchases and ask “Do I need this? Is this a need or a want?” If I am at the grocery store I will buy the products that are local, not someplace far away that requires transportation on a ship, plane, train or truck. Being mindful makes me feel better and if we all make small changes, it will have an impact.”

Clutter isn’t just the stuff in your closet, 
it’s anything that gets between you and the life you want to be living.

Peter Walsh, Professional Organizer

Create Physical Space to Create Peace and Freedom

“I vividly remember as a teenager feeling an incredible sense of relief and satisfaction every time I cleaned my room,” says Coach Michelle Mueller Ihrig. “I would sleep better, I felt light and could breathe deeply and easily, and I felt inspired, accomplished and energized. Almost 40 years later, I often think back to that time because it still feels very much the same. It is incredible how this sense of awareness was already very much alive in me, even back then.”

Coach Mueller Ihrig now believes that by cleaning up the physical space around us, we also clean up the energetic space inside our head and hearts, leaving room for so much more peace, freedom and space to create a meaningful direction for our lives moving forward.

If you are having problems creating phyical space, ask yourself these questions:

  • What gets in your way? 
  • What gets in your way in your physical space? 
  • What gets in your way in your head and what gets in your way in your heart?”

Coach Brandi Richard Thompson believes that we can actually have less by being mindful between choosing and not choosing at all. She says, that “when we accept everything that comes our way, handme downs, giveaways from the conference we attended and more, we are not choosing. When we do this, we are accepting everything. Clearing clutter often begins with determining what really works for us and only accepting those items into our lives.” 

2. Simpler Food Equates to Better Health

Coach Charles Vivier believes that many of us eat out of habit, we eat unconsciously, we eat to stuff ourselves when we feel empty or sad, we treat food as entertainment and as distraction from things we don’t want to do.

Instead, he says what we need to do instead is to eat mindfully, joyfully, savoring the flavors, feeling gratitude and treating food as energy.

Coach Lindsey finds that despite being passionate about food and having traveled all over the world, she now wants things to be simple, local, and delious. She has found herself making big changes in this department. She and Charles “like to rotate between a few options for breakfast, lunch is soup and salad and dinner is fish or chicken and a vegetable, unless we go out for ethnic foods that we can’t make at home. The simpler the better really.”

Indeed, even in food habits and what we consume, Less can be More.

less is more

Coach Mueller Ihrig’s mantra Basic is Best is the foundation of her wellbeing. At the beginning of the pandemic, life slowed down considerably for her as she was suddenly at home and her two-hour long daily commute disappeared. With this extra time, she chose to enroll in a Pranayama breathwork class along with some Ayurvedic consulting.

Her Ayurvedic consult taught her that “the more ingredients there are in anything, the more processed or complicated it appears, the more I know to leave it. By going back to basics, I was able to release the additional weight I had carried around and I was able to find focus and peace through my breath at the same time.”

Consistency and Routines can Help

Coach Muriel likes consistency and routines. She starts her day with a cup of green tea and then a cup of green juice fortified with vitamins and other tinctures. Next comes her daily yoga practice and then a superfood smoothie. Whole, unprocessed foods, simple menus and daily routines make for easier grocery shopping, streamlined menus, less stress, lower expenses and improved wellbeing.

What do you want to achieve?

What more will you get with less?

In the second part of this series, you will learn how to reduce distractions and obligations, and focus more on being!

You can also consider working with an MMSNorCal Life or Professional Coach to examine your life, discover your passion and explore how having less and doing less can free up space for more of what you truly want. 

free, downloadable Coaching Guides & Tools

Leadership Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Leadership Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As a young person leading a national civil rights organization, I often quoted Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in speeches and writings. His leadership lessons and words resonated with my generation of young adults hoping to identify our place in the continued struggle for civil rights in America. 

Here is one of my favorite quotes by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on leadership.

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Personal Struggles with Leadership

I wrestled with the fierce urgency of now and how even after the sacrifices of so many during the civil rights movement and beyond, we still had so far to go.

Our desire for change was too late to allow Dr. King to reach his 40th birthday, too late for Medgar Evers to return home to Myrlie, too late to ensure equitable access to educational opportunities and home mortgages and too late for Trayvon Martin to make it home to his mother. 

At the time, I was quickly approaching 39 years of age myself. I was able to reflect on what it meant to be perceived as an agitator and a general irritant to those who did not want to listen to my suggestions to create more equitable systems. Like Dr. King, I was diplomatic. But, in light of all my community had lost, I was not silent.

My urgency asserted itself 45 years after Dr. King’s murder. Many around me considered it part of the microwave nature of my generation. I often heard, “They just can’t wait their turn to lead, they want what they want now and don’t know how to get it.”

Instead, it was a desire to model the leadership I knew young people throughout history displayed. The Founding Fathers were my age during the Revolutionary War. It was a desire to turn my energy into progress so that my daughter’s generation could take on a new challenge. I firmly decided that there would be no apathy or complacency on my watch.

My personal urgency stemmed from the realization that I could not wait to break free from being a struggling single parent and any biased obstacle to being able to support my daughter needed to be removed.

Brandi Richard-Thompson

Our collective urgency stemmed from the understanding that we could die violently on our feet or slowly in our silence. Dr. King taught us, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Speaking up for ourselves displayed mastery of one of the basic tenets of leadership, being able to lead yourself.

Leaders Speak Up During Difficult Times

Speaking up for yourself even when it is scary or difficult is one of the enduring leadership lessons of Dr. King.

In our newfound annual love fest for Dr. King, we often forget his message was not well-received or accepted in America during his life. Each day, he and so many others faced jail, harassment and death for their work. Facing death for what you believe or listening to the still small voice telling you to pursue your dream, requires the courage of your convictions. 

Speaking up for you leads to the strength and courage to answer what Dr. King presented as “life’s most persistent and urgent question, What are you doing for others?

As professional and excecutive coaches, we know that we can’t lead you in your self-development or growth without first leading ourselves in that process. We must be willing to excavate our deepest desires, needs and wants to help you to do the same. We must lead ourselves in order to help you lead yourselves.

We must pursue and develop deep love for ourselves to bring that expression of love to our clients. 

And so, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. exhibits through his life’s example how to serve others by getting congruent with ourselves about what we were placed here to do and actually do it.

Dr. King, his wife Coretta Scott King, and countless others executed that mission to improve the lives of all by living their purpose. 

Leading with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Principles

This MLK day, we honor his legacy of exceptional American leadership by living some of what he taught whether we lead ourselves or many:

  1. Live in and with the urgency of now, not allowing complacency or apathy to rob us of living the lives we want to live.
  1. Find strength within to allow ourselves to walk in the strength of our convictions.
  1. Extend your strength in service to others as an example and expression of the deep love we have for ourselves.

Happy MLK Day!

free, downloadable Coaching Guides & Tools