A Book Review: "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less"

We live in a world that constantly demands our attention, in one way or another. Think about it - how many times do you wake up in the morning, and the first thing you do is check your cell phone, only to be inundated with a dozen or more e-mails, asking for responses, asking for actions? Even worse, how many times has the simple thought of something like this caused you to wake up in the middle of the night to respond? The same tends to go for people in our lives, who try to steer us in different directions. Whether they’re doing it consciously or not, people tend to grab at us from every angle and pull, and as a society we seem to have lost the value of the word ‘no’. Because of this, we’ve also lost value in the control of our own lives. Whether people, things, or ideas are guiding us, we have no room for our own direction anymore. 

In Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, the idea of taking control of your life again is not only attainable, but also surprisingly easier than many other ‘self-help’ type books may make it out to be. At first, the entire theme of Essentialism as a whole may seem a bit silly: Do more by doing less. Success can make you less successful. These aren’t concepts we often hear, but when they are broken down, it makes perfect sense, and is a proverbial parting of the clouds to a much more fulfilling, and yes, successful life. 

McKeown discusses the importance of the ‘four E’s’: Essence, Explore, Eliminate, and Execute. If you break these categories down, you see the importance of making our own choices, exploring our own options, getting rid of extra ‘stuff’ in our lives, and of course, taking action on making the most important aspects of our lives into the main focus. A good example is to consider successful people at their best - this typically comes when they are able to focus on one thing, and do it well. That’s why McKeown suggests that success can actually make you less successful, because the more successful you become, the more you’re going to be pulled in different directions, asked to do more things, etc. This is fine if your goal is to simply level out, or ‘peak’ at a certain spot. But, once you lose your focus on what made you successful in the first place, you’re really giving up any further growth in just about every area of your life.

The point of Essentialism is to cut the clutter from your life and strip it down to its essentials. It’s not time management, it’s life management, discerning what is absolutely essential, and eliminating the rest. Many things in our life are trivial, and a few are vital. By breaking down the trivial items in our lives, we can achieve so much more, with less effort and stress, and focus on the vital to really lead fulfilling, truly successful lives.  

To end, is Essentialism something you are applying in your life right now? How is it impacting you both positively or negatively? If not, would you consider changing your lifestyle and habits?  Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Article written by Kathleen Miller-Evidente, LVN

Kathleen Evidente is a licensed nurse specializing in geriatric care. She serves as a communication service between La Mer, families, and facilities to provide streamlined communications between office staff, doctors, nurse practitioners and the skilled nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and memory care units. She is instrumental in promoting mental health and identifying the need for La Mer services.

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