On Minimalism (2016)


Image from http://www.caranddriver.com/audi/tt-rs

Image from http://www.caranddriver.com/audi/tt-rs


When car manufacturers advertise their latest model, you see the car on an open stretch of road, you see the car driving through a beautiful landscape, or you see the car in front of great architecture. What you don’t see is the car in a parking lot crammed with other cars, what you don’t see is the car stuck in a traffic jam, or stopping at a fast food drive-thru.

What you don’t see is just as important as what you do see. Advertisers know this. They understand the importance of the environment, the impact of the obstacles in the background, and the mundane attacking their attempt at capturing beauty.

What should we learn from this? To retain audiences’ focus on their product, car manufacturers ensure the surrounding of their product is optimised to generate maximum attractiveness of their car.

How do we apply this to our lives? To generate an optimum level of desired focus, surroundings must be kept to a minimal, just like the car in the advertisement. Once a second car is introduced in the image, or contains a familiar scenario (i.e traffic), or destination (i.e fast food restaurant), attention diverts. This retracts from the focus (to ensure all eyes are on the car) and purpose (to get people to buy the car) of the advertisement.

It is important to limit our indulgence in distraction to attain outcomes in our daily lives. Limiting indulgence in distraction is a mental skill powered by habit. To encourage the skill of retaining focus conducive to success, limit physical possessions.

Limiting indulgence in distraction can be assisted by the amount of items owned.

Ownership of ten mobile phones reduced to one forces the owner to focus on the one. That focus generates a responsibility to care for that one mobile phone. If the phone fell on the floor and broke, there are no immediate replacements. The responsibility of owning one is greater than owning ten.

For the owner of ten mobile phones, if one out of the ten fell on the floor and broke, the effect on the bearer is a mere fleeting disappointment. There are immediate alternatives. The fourth or the fifth one breaking is irrelevant, there are replacements.

Just like the car advertisement, having a sole image of the new product has far more impact than an image of ten new cars lined up. The manufacturer has more than one of the new cars available, but what you don’t see is just as important as what you do see.

Limiting indulgence in distraction can be assisted by the surroundings.

Working in a setting that is not reminiscent of other activities is conducive to success. Placed in a setting where one rests and plays can inhibit desired focus when work yearns to be completed. Just like the car advertisement, we can absorb the image better when it is photographed out of our daily habitat. Our time spent looking at the background of a familiar setting (i.e traffic, fast food drive-thru) behind the image of the car steals time spent looking at the car.

Surroundings must be clear of unnecessary possessions. If surroundings are not clear, our casual attention to these can break our focus. If unnecessary possessions are taken out of the surroundings, minds are starved of alternatives to do/play with/look at. Retention of desired focus wins the battle of possessions vying to seduce it.