11 things Chinese Taoism can teach you about embracing simplicity

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In a fast-paced world filled with constant distractions, the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism (also known as Daoism) has a lot to teach us about slowing down, embracing simplicity, and living a more authentic life.

It teaches us to find contentment in the present moment, cultivate stillness, and connect with nature.

From the concept of Wu Wei (effortless action) to cultivating humility, these timeless principles will inspire you to embrace simplicity in your everyday life.

Join me as I go through 11 invaluable lessons that will bring harmony, balance, and a renewed sense of purpose to your life.

1)  Wu Wei

I encourage anyone who finds themselves lost in the hustle and bustle of life to embrace the art of Wu Wei.

Wu Wei means “effortless action” or “non-doing” and is an important concept in Taoism.

It encourages us to go with the flow of life and avoid unnecessary struggle. Makes a lot of sense if you ask me.

I think that a lot of the time we create unnecessary struggles for ourselves that can be avoided if we would just let go of excessive effort and allow things to unfold naturally.

Ready to give it a try?

2) Simplicity, patience, compassion

According to Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese Taoist philosopher:

“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.”

Life can be overwhelming at times.

Like right now, I’m trying to catch up with a heap of work, looking for an affordable last-minute vacation spot, and wondering how I’m going to pay my rent which has been raised by 25%!

So what can I learn from Taoism?

Well, when things get complicated, I need to take a breather and get back to the basics – simplicity, patience, and compassion.

  • Instead of trying to take on everything at once, I should deal with one thing at a time.
  • Things will work out but I need to be patient.
  • And finally, I need to stop being so hard on myself and offer the same kindness and compassion to myself that I would a friend.

3) Harmony with nature

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

– Lao Tzu

I love that quote!

Just think of a busy city center – all those business people rushing somewhere. I’ve been there.

But what would happen if they were to stop for a second? What if they sat on a bench for 5 minutes to drink their coffee in peace instead of on the go?

What if they stopped to smell the roses and listen to the birds?

Would it be the end of the world?

Of course not!

Part of embracing simplicity is finding beauty in the natural world – literally stopping to smell the roses.

That’s why I like to take my sweet time in the morning.

I have my coffee and breakfast in my garden. I observe the nature around me – the birds chirping in the trees, the wilting plants begging to be watered, new buds that seem to have appeared overnight, and the various insects going about their lives

And do you know what? This little ritual centers me and gives me the energy to face another day.

4) Inner reflection

Don’t shy away from introspection.

Taoism encourages us to simplify our thoughts and turn them inward.

And the result?

Clarity and a deeper understanding of yourself and what is most important in life.

Trust me, bringing it down to the essentials and getting rid of all the bullsh** will help you lead a simpler and more authentic way of life.

5) Non-attachment

Here’s the thing: Taoism teaches us about the principle of non-attachment, which emphasizes letting go of excessive desires and attachments.

I mean, just look around your home. Do you really need all those things?

I’ll admit, non-attachment isn’t easy for everyone. I myself have a hard time with it. I’m not a hoarder, but I do like my little trinkets, my books, and even my clothes.

But when I die, it’s not like I can take any of them with me, is it?

That’s why Taoism teaches us to embrace simplicity by detaching ourselves from material possessions and ego-driven desires. Once we do, we’ll be able to find contentment and peace in the present moment.

Now, I’m not quite ready to get rid of all my possessions, but I’m happy to go through my things a few times a year and give everything I don’t use or wear often to charity.

6) Cultivating stillness

Did you know that In Taoism, stillness is seen as a source of power and wisdom?

That’s why part of embracing simplicity involves cultivating moments of stillness and silence in your daily life.

But how can you disconnect from the noise and distractions of the modern world?

Well, a great way to do so is to practice meditation daily.

Personally, I like to practice mindfulness meditation where I sit in a quiet room and focus on my breath for half an hour, but there are other types of meditation you can check out and see what works best for you.

7) Living in the present

If you think about it, all we have is the present.

That’s why part of embracing simplicity means letting go of regrets about the past or worries about the future. It means fully immersing yourself in the present moment, cultivating gratitude for what you have, and finding joy in the simplicity of each moment.

If you want to learn to live in the present moment, I strongly encourage you to make mindfulness meditation part of your daily practice.

8) Balance and harmony

You’ve probably heard about “Yin and Yang” – the circle divided into two equal halves, one black and one white.

The black half is called Yin, and the white half is called Yang.

Each half contains a smaller dot of the opposite color within it, showing that within Yin, there’s always some Yang, and within Yang, there’s always some Yin. This represents the ever-changing nature of existence and the constant interplay between opposing forces.

The Yin and Yang is a visual representation of the Taoist concept of harmonizing and balancing the complementary energies within all aspects of life.

Simply put, it symbolizes the idea that opposing forces are interconnected, interdependent, and in a perpetual dance of harmony and change.

Thus, embracing simplicity involves seeking balance in all aspects of life –  cultivating harmony between work and rest, activity and stillness, and effort and relaxation.

9) Acceptance of impermanence

We may not always like to think about it, but nothing is permanent.

That’s why Taoism encourages us to accept the ever-changing flow of life.

In that sense, embracing simplicity means embracing the impermanence of all things and being at peace with the transient nature of existence.

10) Embracing simplicity in actions

“The more we do, the less we accomplish.”

– Lao Tzu

Taoism teaches us the value of simplicity in our actions.

It encourages us to avoid extravagance and unnecessary complications, both in our behavior and our relationships.

And the best part?

By simplifying our actions and interactions, we can create more genuine and meaningful connections with others.

11) Cultivating humility

Finally, I have to mention how Taoism teaches us about the importance of humility and modesty.

And when it comes to embracing simplicity, it means being humble and recognizing our limitations.

And when we let go of the need for grandiosity and instead seek simplicity in our interactions with others, we can foster deeper connections as well as a more harmonious existence.

These teachings from Chinese Taoism offer profound insights into embracing simplicity, and I hope they will guide you toward a more balanced, peaceful, and authentic way of life.

Jelena Dincic

Jelena has a background in photography and film-making and has spent the last few years as a content editor and copywriter. Jelena is a citizen of the world who is passionate about travel and learning about new cultures. She’s a foodie who loves to cook. And, as an art lover, she is always experimenting with new art mediums. When she’s not at her computer, she’s usually out and about in some forest with her dogs.

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