less is more


I am a 3 on the Enneagram. For those unfamiliar with the Enneagram but know me well, when you find out what a 3 means, you will not be surprised. For those of you who know what a 3 on the Enneagram is, you are already thinking, “of course you are!”

The Enneagram’s exact history is unclear but the thinking is that it emanates from ancient spiritual, mathematical, philosophical and oral traditions. It has found its way into the modern psychology and scientific community where it has been “validated,” and into the business world where it is used, like other popular tools, to help us understand who we are and point us in the direction of greater success…blah…blah…blah.. you can Google it. My coach introduced me to the Enneagram, not because it’s valid or to achieve greater success, but true to the intended purpose of the Enneagram tradition, as a place to look for greater insight, depth of self-awareness and understanding, growth and expansion.

I am a 3 on the Enneagram. The Achiever. 3’s are industrious, goal focused, results and success oriented, efficient, high energy, caring through doing, impatient, driven and overextended…laughing yet?

According to “The Essential Enneagram” there are several practices 3’s like me can do to further their development: pay attention, enhance awareness of emotions, take deep breaths, practice letting go, set a morning intention and an evening reflection, practice loving kindness...create space.

I’m supposed to do nothing? Space? Are you nuts?

As my fellow 3’s can attest, we often live in the perspective of more is more. Do everything. Maintain lists, and list of lists. Hold your breath, hold your emotions and push forward. However, what I have learned after over a year of meditating and more broadly what Dan Harris of 10% Happier calls contemplative practice and study which for me includes a daily meditation and gratitude practice, working with my coach, listening to podcasts, reading and journaling, it’s often in the quiet empty spaces that magic happens.

This post landed in my head in one such “nothingness” moment. It was during an evening walk through the La Brea Tar Pits, my mind was clear, I was doing less, I was not focused on anything in particular, I wasn’t intending to “write” or even think and ideas arose and words came flooding in.

The less I do, the more I get done, the less I think, the more the thoughts come, the less I say, the more is said. Is that really possible?

Like a little bubble of methane coming to the surface of the Tar Pits lake, the impact of less can have beautiful ripple effect. And while the force of a boulder thrown in the pond will create impact, it’s not necessarily any better, more significant, or more beautiful and perhaps what you will get is a big ugly

messy splash.

As you all know so well, I still DO a lot and that's ok, I'm a 3 after all. But I now see more clearly what's possible on the other side of the doing.

Call forth the beauty of less. Where can less, silence, or space be of service to you?

PS. I created a Spotify play list called “No Lyrics,” Less is more. Enjoy!

photos by Lynne Harris Bernstein © 2018


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