Simplicity and sincerity

My friend Harry gave me a copy of an out-of-print book from the 1950s that includes a chapter called “Simplicity and Sincerity.” The chapter is actually very short and doesn’t explain much, but the title of the chapter has stuck with me since the first time I saw it.

After taking notice of it, I’ve come to see how simplicity and sincerity are profoundly connected. The choice to live simply isn’t one of denial or exclusion, but rather one of being sincere in all of your actions.

Take for example an offer to sit on the board of a local charity. You might think that the charity does good work. You might want the charity to succeed. You might feel honored that the organization thought of you as a leader. You might even volunteer in single-day events a few times a year. But, if you don’t sincerely wish to partake in all of the meetings, planning, cultivating, and financial development that a position on a board requires, then you would decline the offer. Accepting the position would be insincere, both to you and the organization. In addition to wishing that you were doing something else with your time, you’d be depriving the organization of a board member who would be sincerely committed to participating.

I think about physical objects in a similar fashion. If I sincerely do not wish to put forth the effort to properly maintain and care for the item, then I don’t bring it into my home.

Being sincere with your actions makes it easier to live simply.

12 Comments for “Simplicity and sincerity”

  1. posted by Tim Howland on

    Excellent! “May your commitments be few and sincere”, one could say.

  2. posted by mandie on

    Thanks so much for this valuable reminder! I think it’s about time for me to re-evaluate my priorities and responsibilities. :)

  3. posted by Dawn on

    Not over-committing/over-scheduling yourself and having some down-time to relax and “smell the roses” does the body, mind and soul some good!

  4. posted by Ryan K on

    Nice post. Simplicity and sincerity do not seem inherently linked on the surface, but the explanation is good. A good reminder to not clutter your life with things not important.

  5. posted by Laura at The Journal of Cultural Conversation on

    Well-said – and a great reminder that simplicity is not just about material items – it really is a lifestyle. Something I’ll need to refer back to, for sure!

    - Laura

  6. posted by Christine on

    It’s funny, I noticed the connection after a few months of becoming minimalist. I’ve said no to things without offering lengthy excuses, and have stopped going to so many events just because “I have to”. It’s so much simpler!

  7. posted by Mletta on

    Brilliant observation and insight!

    Loved:
    “The choice to live simply isn’t one of denial or exclusion, but rather one of being sincere in all of your actions.”

    If only…we could get our friends and family and co-workers onboard for this.

    I fear we all, at times, say “Yes” when we really mean “no” because saying “no” in a lot of situations causes more grief (at the outset) on so many levels (especially relationships)than we can handle/deal with. (Especially with close friends and family, where, in theory, we should be able to be the most honest.)

    But in the long run, you show true honor and respect for others and yourself by NOT doing what you do not wish to do and only committing your time and energy to what you want to do. We’d have far less problems in business and socially if people did not say they’d do something, when they really knew they would not or could not. (Think about where your real anger lies when someone does not come through as promised. Would you have been as angry if they just said NO upfront? Probably not. Because you depended on someone and they didn’t come through. Now you are truly angry and disappointed.)

    Is it painful? On occasion. Because saying no to others is pretty much acknowledging that, no, this does not matter to use as it does to them.

    Keep it simple and sincere. Love it.

  8. posted by Dawn F on

    I had a co-worker in the past who was giving a farewell speech (he was moving away to a new job) and in his speech he said, “I’m sorry for all of the times that I over-committed and under-delivered.” That statement has remained stuck in my brain – I don’t want to over commit myself to something and then under-deliver.

    I would rather choose a few things in life to really devote myself to instead of biting off more than I can chew and disappointing others in the process by me not following through with the committment(s).

    This topic reminds me of the post you had recently about limiting kid’s activities. Those similar feelings of not over scheduling a child totally apply to adults, too.

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  10. posted by Julia1060 on

    Nice post. I’ve always felt that nature often takes the most efficient ( if not the quickest) course – e.g. as when water moves around a large obstacle and it is eventually swept away. Simplicity is a mode in concordance with nature – elegant and efficient – just as sincerity, ( or honesty , truth, whatever you wish to call it) is much more efficient in human relations.

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