The Art of Living a Simple and Balanced Life

by | Apr 6, 2021 | Life Lessons

“Just subtle shifts in your habits and perspective. That’s all you need to live simply.”

~ Shunmyo Masuno

The Art of Simple Living: 100 Daily Practices from a Japanese Zen Monk for a Lifetime of Calm and Joy

One of the things I like doing the most is going to art galleries. I can spend hours just walking slowly, stopping and staring into a painting or sculpture, and reading the artist’s inspiration. I like being in the space where expressions of thoughts, emotions, and experiences come to life on canvas. It’s a simple thing, but when I’m there, the rest of the world slows down, and I feel a sense of peace and joy.

I don’t go to art galleries enough.

What came to me is that life is art. Every day offers an opportunity for us to notice and appreciate the simple things in life; and to participate in the world as the artists of our lives. It’s a perspective that I want to explore more because I believe it’s a gateway to living a simple and balanced life.

There are three things we can learn from artists that will support us in our daily lives: appreciation, flow, and symmetry.

Artists appreciate art. This is the first lesson: appreciate life. There will always be things to complain about. But there is still so much to treasure. Where our attention goes, energy flows. What if we turned our focus toward what’s right, what’s beautiful, and what’s simple.

“The world has enough beautiful mountains and meadows, spectacular skies and serene lakes. It has enough lush forests, flowered fields, and sandy beaches. It has plenty of stars and the promise of a new sunrise and sunset every day. What the world needs more of is people to appreciate and enjoy it.” (Michael Josephson)

There’s an entire canvas of possibilities to notice and appreciate, if we just stop and take a moment to see life through our artist eyes. Notice the small, simple things in life.

Artists enjoy being in flow. This is the second lesson: let life flow. Taoists believe that we accomplish more without effort by attuning ourselves with the natural rhythms of life. By going with the flow of your life, you discover calmness, creativity, and strategies for living. What if we embrace the notion that life is better when we allow it to flow? When we don’t constrict, judge or fight against the natural occurrences in life, we reduce stress and anxiety.

Artists create symmetry. This is the third lesson: observe symmetry in your life. In art, symmetry creates order out of what otherwise might be considered chaos. In symmetry, artists understand that something doesn’t have to be perfectly balanced to be beautiful or to create a sense of harmony. Artists balance symmetry and improvisation. What if we looked for symmetry in our lives. It’s there. Notice your thumbprint. Observe the many examples of symmetry in nature. The leaf, butterfly, peacock, honeycomb, zebra, spiderweb, starfish, and sunflower are just a few examples. In each, we find beauty and balance. What if we stopped expecting a 50-50 split between work and life, and instead looked at the entirety of our lives to find symmetry – balance, harmony, improvisation.

I am finding that when I appreciate the little things in life, let go of striving and let life flow, and observe the many ways in which my life reflects symmetry, like an artist, I can enjoy a simple and balanced life. 

Join me this month in reading, “The Art of Simple Living: 100 Daily Practices from a Japanese Zen Monk for a Lifetime of Calm and Joy” by Shunmyo Masuno.

I hope you found this article helpful. I chose something I love, art, to create a new insight or perspective as to how we can live a simple and balanced life. If you decide to read The Art of Simple Living, I’d love to know. Email me at tonya@yourahalife.com. I’d welcome going on this 100-day journey with you. Also, check out my other related blogs: 3 Ways to Manage Busyness, Moving from Work-Life Balance to Whole-Life Balance, and 10 Ways to Slow Down and Live More.

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