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1 posts from June 2010

June 27, 2010

life is complex, not complicated.


Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.  -Confucius

There are three kinds of problems: simple (baking a cake), complicated (a moon launch), and complex (raising a child or finding meaning in your life).

Most of us mistake what is complex with what is merely complicated. We create more strategic plans and worksheets and believe we must invest in expensive solutions to the complicated issues of our day.

What if life is complex, not complicated? What if the counterintuitive response of simplifying is exactly the right one?

After a wee bit of a rant on Twitter about this confusion of the complicated and the complex, I started creating what I called "four-word self-help" books... and people started writing to see if they could print them out for their management team and their church for Advent.

Soon a book was born, coming out this September. Here's the publisher's description of it.

Pithy, provocative, poignant advice on a variety of
self-help topics—in four well-chosen words

Is life really all that complicated? What if we could solve all our problems with just four simple words?

Four-Word Self-Help is a pithy nod to the fact that life is simpler than we try to make it. It shows how the truisms for most of our woes can be boiled down to four well-chosen words. Author Patti Digh (Life is a Verb) takes the issues of our busy, burdened days and proves that rather than “solving” a complexity with another complexity, the answer may well lie in simple actions. 

Following an introduction reflecting on the power of words in self-improvement and self-discovery, Patti introduces twelve hot-button “issues”—each addressed by wise and witty four-word missives, 101 in total. Each concise nugget of advice has been interpreted in original art submitted by artists from around the world, making this book a visual feast for those who could, simply, use just a little bit of help and inspiration.

be a surge protector

eat less, move more

use your own voice

give up toxic people



Beautifully illustrated by readers of my blog from around the world, this feels like another artistic "barn-raising."

I hope you will love it in its simplicity. If you pre-order it online from Barnes and Noble, it encourages them to sell it in their brick and mortar stores and, perhaps, to invite me to those stores to do readings perched on a tiny high stool. The same is true for calling up your local independent bookshop to ask them to pre-order it for you. And we love independent bookshops, we surely do.

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