Less is more

Former Indian president and renowned scientist A. P. J. Abdul Kalaam belonged to a Indian muslim family and grew up in a pilgrimage centre in Tamil Nadu. His father owned a boat which he used to take pilgrims across a river in his local village. Kalaam used to sell newspapers as a child to fund his education. One of the famous stories I have read about him is that he used to study under a streetlight in order to complete his homework. This may have reminded you some other successful people who carved their path after enduring the pain and hardships offered by life. Einstein and Edison, who faced their own challenges in early age, learnt to see through them and ended up shaping the new world as we know it. When we hear about struggles of these legends, without any doubt we see a clear evidence how scarcity of resources gave them opportunities to overcome hurdles and seek ways to accomplish greatness. These people learnt to tackle challenges at very early age in their lives and hence nothing could stop them.

Students who have to change three busses on their way to school understand that they have to start organising their day right at the sound of alarm otherwise they are heading towards a day full of chaos. They learn organisation and time management because life has already offered them opportunities. Waking up early would never be a problem for them which is a first step towards a productive day.

Similarly, as a parent I strongly believe it is pivotal that we help children understand the difference between necessities, requirements and luxuries in life because they would need to make decisions soon on where to draw line. We are living in the world where people are not in pursuit of happiness but in competition to be happier. It is important to teach the kids that actually grass is greener on their side.

The law of diminishing marginal utility in economics simply states that the satisfaction we gain after consuming any product decreases by every unit. This means that a cup of tea in the morning may give you the most fulfilling satisfaction but another cup of tea would never be as satisfying as the first one. That cup of tea is so important and amazingly satisfying because you only have it once in your day. Going to Niagara Falls every day will completely ruin your experience. Then why is it that we are always focussing on abundance of materialism?

Schools and teachers can play a significant role in educating students on ‘less is more’. A well structured system and careful restraints on resources with high expectations from students can not only motivate students to perform well but also equip them with set of skills which they can use to overcome many challenges. Abundance of time and resources can deprive students from achieving success. I think teachers would agree that he best lessons are those when you talk less. This reminds of a quote by Mark Twain:

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote  a long one instead.” 

It is more difficult to come up with something short hard hitting and meaningful but we know it will have a long lasting impact on hearts and minds. Steve Jobs loved minimalism to the extent that it became a style and identity of his brands. Minimalism is now considered as a spiritual approach to achieve happiness and key to serene life.

World is changing and we ought to adapt contemporary ways to find place in this new world and even more important we must train the next generation.

Here is the the video that inspired me to write this blog.


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