The Deliberate Art of Subtraction Adds Meaning to Life

Approach life with a renewed sense of purpose

Thomas Oppong


Photo: Matthew Henry/Burst

Life can quickly become too cluttered and full of internal and external noise when we don’t take a step back and assess what is truly important.

Subtraction is a way of becoming more aware of our habits and what we do and don’t need to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

When you subtract from your life, you can make space for what you truly value and create a more focused style.

Lao Tzu, a Chinese Taoist philosopher, once said, “To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”

By stripping away the non-essential, we can become more in tune with our values and priorities. It can help us to make more intentional choices about how we spend our time and energy, leading to a greater sense of fulfilment and satisfaction.

Subtraction creates more space in your life. This can be physical space, such as decluttering a home, or mental space, by letting go of negative thoughts or limiting habits and beliefs.

The process can lead to lightness and freedom, allowing you to approach life with a renewed sense of purpose and positivity.

“If the past was the age of adding to one’s mind, now is the age of subtracting what is in his mind. A person who subtracts his minds in this time will recover his original nature,’ argues Woo Myung, in his book, Stop Living In This Land, Go To The Everlasting World Of Happiness, Live There Forever.

When you actively subtract, you can make room for new experiences, create more free time and enjoy a life focused on the things that bring you the most joy.

Through the practice of conscious subtraction, you can live a life that is simpler, more meaningful and easier to manage.

Subtraction isn’t just about removing the excess; it’s a deliberate art form. It’s about taking stock of our lives and being mindful of what brings us joy and fulfilment.

“The soul grows by subtraction, not addition,” says Henry David Thoreau.

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Thomas Oppong

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