Less is More

I believe in the “Too big to survive” theory of economics. While various articles about “Too big to fail” come up when I searched that on Google, I think the phrase originated with Colin Wright a young entrepreneur, writer, speaker, world traveler and cofounder of Asymmetrical Press. (Warning: “This link is not authorized by Yahoo”) I like it because it contrasts well with the more familiar, “Too big to fail” theory.

What do I mean by “Too big to survive”? I believe this is what Lent is all about. As Passionists we are encouraged to take a period of time each year, Lent, to determine what is really important to us and our families and communities. One way to do this, is by paring down, getting rid of the excess, and focusing on what really matters, by getting smaller, just the opposite of what seems to be the wisdom of our day: “More, more, more”.

In what I believe is an ingenious contemporary six minute articulation of what St. Francis (1181 – 1226), St. Paul of the Cross (1694 – 1775) and many more saints preached, contemporary designer and writer, Graham Hill in his March 2011 TED Talk Less stuff, more happiness, suggests that we ask ourselves “Could I do a little life editing?” He gives three great suggestions for living more fulfilled, happy lives:

  • Edit ruthlessly
  • Think small
  • Make Multifunctional

I think maybe I’ll try making these my mantra for this Lent.

Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey


Let’s Try Integrity When Attempting Community

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

I believe relationships, while the basis for happiness according to a 75 year Harvard study, must be honest and free of fear. If they are not, we all lose.

Robert Waldinger has received 2½ million views of his November 2015 TED Talk: “What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness.” In this talk Waldinger tells of a 75 year Harvard study of 724 men from their teenage years into their 90’s. The men studied came from two groups: a class of Harvard sophomores; and children from the poorest neighborhoods in Boston. Sixty of these men are still alive. Basically the study discovered that our relationships are the single most important element accounting for our happiness.

Would if these relationships are contrived and don’t accurately reflect who we are, what we think and believe? In short would if we find we’re just playing a game?

Trevor Laffan recently retired after 35 years from An Garda Siochana, the national police service of Ireland. Garda has a stated purpose of Working with Communities to Protect and Serve. Writing for theJournal.ie, an Irish online post similar to the Huffington Post in the U.S. he laments the demise of community policing. He spent 20 years there. In his article he describes how his fellow officers desire for advancement led to the community policing’s demise. Basically he writes that his fellow officers were fearful of reporting what they experienced at the grass roots level for fear of upsetting those above them in the hierarchy, and limiting their chance of advancement.

We can each do something to reverse the demise of our institutions, increase our own job satisfaction, and to build lasting relationships. Here are just a few examples:

  • When you disagree with the boss, or anyone for that matter, respectfully tell them you see things differently.
  • Always put your integrity first and trust this will serve all concerned.
  • Let advancement happen. If it doesn’t, find a new job or in my case a new volunteer position.

Here’s to a Happy 2016

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

I have a friend who likes to say when referring to a particular political party: “The only trouble with spending other peoples’ money is that you eventually run out of it.” (Anonymous) I have another friend who fondly reminisces about when he and his single mother would get together at the end of the month and decide which charities they would give to that month. Both, I suppose are right in some way, but one suggests to me a much happier, and I believe much more realistic understanding of just what money is and what it can do for us.

In today’s TED selection, Michael Norton tells how to buy happiness. He starts out by saying we often read in religion books “money can’t buy happiness”. He categorically says that’s wrong and if you think that way, you’re probably spending it wrongly. He goes on to give the results of some simple unscientific studies he’s made that demonstrate the right way to spend money so that you will be happy.

The book, Your Money or Your Life originally written by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin in the early 90’s and updated by Vicki Robin in 2008 presents a good analysis of the stages most of us go through in dealing with money. The authors eventually give the reader some down to earth financial goals along with the means to achieving them. The secret according to Dominguez and Robin is the simple recognition of what is enough.

If money sometimes gets in the way to your happiness, try one or more of these simple suggestions for a happy 2016: 

  • Define “enough”—Know what is enough; enough house, enough food, enough entertainment… 
  • Try sharing—Giving to others as Michael Norton above tells us works to make us happy. 
  • Keep it simple—Establish simple goals and immediately begin to work for them.