Larry Preston

Champion of Endless Optimization (CEO) at Digital Opera & Raceday. Happy stoic, aspirational minimalist, recovered big hair 80’s rock star. Author of “Star Fire Kids – Midnight Blue Express”.


This is by far the best post by Derek Sivers, from his hook “Hell Yeah or No”: Subtract.

“Life can be improved by adding or by subtracting.

The world pushes us to add because that benefits them.

But the secret is to focus on subtracting.”

When building a life, its so easy to focus on the next goal, the next hurdle that must be overcome, and the infinite amount of time, money and things we need to get where we want to go.

That mindset has us focused on always looking to add more. More money, more square footage, more horsepower, taking on more projects that we believe will transport us to that top of that shiny hill.

Many years ago, our ancestors worked year around, from sun up to sun down to keep food on the table.

But the fact is, today, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little.

Most of us have to-do lists a mile long. Unfinished projects (or ones we have not started but can’t stop thinking about) clogging every square inch of our homes and garages. We’re committed to too much and can barely find the time to just rest or have fun. That’s the mind set of always trying to add to your life.

Subtracting is harder, but far more rewarding. Subtracting means taking a breathe and looking at your projects, priorities and that massive to-do list, and letting go. Sounds easy, but it’s not.

All those projects and to-do items, provide illusion of purpose, of being needed, of being important, and in some case, they provide the illusion of being loved. So to look at one and wonder about letting it go can induce anxiety, even panic.

Then the anxiety and panic induce you to want to think about it some more before you consider letting it go. So you put subtracting that one thing on hold and every time you see it, it sparks that anxiety and panic again, so you put it off, and the loop begins and never ends, and it gets added to the other loops rotating in your cranium.

What you have to keep in mind while trying to Subtract is that in order to grow or change, you have to make room for that. If you don’t that growth & change will not happen, and you will find yourself stuck where you are, and every day you’ll find yourself digging that rut deeper.

Start with something small, get rid of it and see how you feel.

If you’re like me, it will make you feel that what you need to change is already happening, and there is nothing you can add that will keep that going.

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