The Zen of white space

Finding the white space in our lives

Have you heard the expression ‘less is more’? It means having less in your life but enjoying it more. It’s the brief gap between the busyness of life, a moment to take a breath. It’s white space.

In advertising the use of white space is designed to focus and highlight the important without cluttering the page. Clean and clear.

We often receive advice about simplifying life, finding calm and living in the now. It’s a common theme in the self help literature. I believe there’s merit in finding Zen in the spaces between the activities of our lives; our own personal white space. Most of us want to find the elusive simplicity that resides on the other side of complexity.

Simplicity has a different meaning for everyone. For some it means eliminating all but the essential in their lives. For others, it’s a new way of living – the peace and calm they find in their days, mindfulness and concentration in every activity.

This is the Zen way of living. Rid yourself of the clutter and you’re left with valued elements. But what does that mean in modern day life?

Well, it doesn’t mean renouncing all that you have to spend your days in quiet contemplation. We all need to work, live and interact with the world. It certainly doesn’t mean turning your back on your responsibilities. You may not even be less busy that you are now, but you will be focused; action rather than reaction.

There is an old management philosophy that says we should focus on the important rather than the urgent. It’s easy to fill our days with white noise rather than white space; that moment between tasks to take a breath and reflect on what we are achieving.

Busy and focused, in the moment, and applying your attention to what you are doing now is good. Filling your day, or your life, with busyness for its own sake, clutter and distraction only serves to divert and drain your energy. You end up deferring the most important things, and just getting through the day rather than being inspired by it.

In my next post we’ll look at a few strategies for making white space in your life.

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