Saturday, June 07, 2008
Aimee's Soapbox -April 2008: Ockham’s Razor
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April 2008: Ockham’s Razor
Get out your Latin phrase books, Groovy Readers. I want to share with you my favorite tenet of the reductionist philosophy of nominalism: “Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatum.” In other words, “All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.” You probably already know this phrase as Ockham’s Razor (also spelled as Occam’s Razor).
A 14-th century English logician and Franciscan friar named William of Ockham gets the credit for this observation that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible. This principle is often expressed as the lex parsimoniae, or the law of parsimony or law of succinctness. In other words, "entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.” Sadly, all too often, most of us feel that “more is better.”
We supersize our meals, overtrain ourselves to injury, and gulp down twenty vitamins when three would do. Why do we tend to complicate things for ourselves, when we can see that “nature does not employ two instruments where one suffices,” as Thomas Aquinas said? Why not simplify? I would like to propose three ways to Ock-ify your life.
We all complain of overwhelming stress and too much to do and too little time. So here is a perfect opportunity to streamline.
1. GIVE YOURSELF ONE DAY OFF PER WEEK. Don’t you have enough to do and worry about during the week? It’s OK to ease up on yourself once in a while. Why not give yourself one day a week not to exercise, to eat whatever you want, to turn off your brain from its relentless whip-cracking. Cut yourself some slack and be OK with mellow. In the big picture, the rest you give yourself will pay off much bigger than any workout or dessert-skipping ever will.
2. LET GO OF THE SMALL BATTLES. Often times, we type A’s feel that we have to have control over every situation, win every battle, follow every plan to the letter. But in actuality, Mother Nature bats last. She has the last word, not us. So even if you WANT to be in control of everything, it’s not even possible anyway! So let go of the smaller items that really don’t mean anything in the big picture. Save your energy and your passion to fight the battles that really matter.
3. DO THE RIGHT THING, DO THE THING RIGHT. I have said this one before, but it bears repeating. Trying shortcuts and cutting corners doesn’t always work out the way you want. Often times, you have to go back and fix stuff anyway. And in the case of health and wellness, trying a diet pill or doing 8-minute abs in the hopes of looking like a supermodel just shortchanges you of nutrition and real fitness.
So take your time, do it right, you can do it, baby (apologies to the S.O.S. Band). Simplicity is the key to the championship, honestly. Give yourself a month to try streamlining, and see if you don’t feel a little weight lifted off your shoulders. Happy Spring, everyone!