Simplicity by Edward de Bono
I just finished a book of Edward de Bono, Simplicity. Many of us may know his reputation from many of his writing works about thinking about thinking, lateral thinking, parallel thinking, six thinking hats, to name a few. I am ashamed to say that this is his first book that I read, I saw his works many years ago but I decided to skip them every time that I saw them in a bookstore.
It is a good book I can say. It amplifies the value of simplicity that we may overlook while the world is rapidly developing. It shows reasons why we need simplicity. It clarifies a meaning of simplicity, simplicism, and oversimplification. And, it suggests plenty of useful, simple methods and techniques to simplify things. Besides, you can apply some rules directly to goals that you intend to accomplish.
Rule 1, you need to put a very high value on simplicity. To get simplicity you have to want to get it. To want to get simplicity you have to put high value on simplicity.
Rule 2, you must be determined to seek simplicity.
Rule 3, you need to understand the matter very well. Simplicity has to be designed. In order to design something you need to know exactly what you are dealing with and what you intend to achieve.
Rule 4, you need to design alternatives and possibilities.
Rule 5, you need to challenge and discard existing elements. Not everything that is there really needs to be there.
Rule 6, you need to be prepared to start over again. Modify if you can – start afresh if you cannot.
Rule 7, you need to use concepts. Concepts are the human mind’s way of simplifying the world around.
Rule 8, you may need to break things down into smaller units.
Rule 9, you need to be prepared to trade off other values for simplicity. If simplicity is a real value then you must be prepared to trade off other real values in order to gain simplicity.
Rule 10, you need to know for whose sake the simplicity is being designed. For whose sake is the simplicity being designed? Who is going to benefit from the simplicity?
However, for this kind of books you will see how much you get from the book only if you apply it in your life. By reading this book, we all start at the same starting point, but after some time we will see ourself in different distance from that starting point.
The book also mentions about an idea of, The Simple Life. You probably see that even in simplicity there will be a degree of complexity. In this way, a healthy simple life is a life with controlable complexity. And to some of us, the idea of the simple life seems interesting if, and only if we don’t reach there yet. One example from the book is if we never have a headache, ‘not having a headache’ is never the most important wish in the world. It also points out that "we are continually bullied by opportunities." That’s quite true. And I really like another example given in the book, "if you develop a fine taste of wines then you will forever be spending more money on wine than you really need to." Oppotunities will keep bulling us whenever we are "above the level of struggling to survive."
However, a concept of the simple life can vary from the past to the present, and from one person to another person. To me, the simple life should be as simple as living a happy life, not put difficulties to yourself and people around you. But it also comes to complexity when we have to define what a happy life is. For that, perhaps I have an answer from a good quotation about happiness that I wrote in my blog on New Year’s Eve.