The ancient art of COMPLICATION

Do you ever marvel at some people’s uncanny ability to make the simple, complex?

The straight forward, anything but?

A ten minute task, a two week saga?

I meet these people every day.

Please stop sending them my way.

They are the woe-is-me brigade.

The Brothers (and Sisters) Grim.

(The real Brothers Grimm were two German dudes who published a bunch of folk stories and fairy tales about two hundred years ago… that’s for those of you who aren’t as old as me!!).

Yep, some people spend their whole lives making stuff complicated.

More complicated than it needs to be anyway.

Relationships… a constant soap-opera.

Career… messy and problematic.

Getting in shape… a perpetual roller-coaster of losing and gaining.

Finances… a daily money melodrama.

If you didn’t know better, you might think that some people actually revel in the drama and attention.

In Australia we have a curious creature known colloquially as the ‘Drama Queen’.

They are both male and female and their natural habitat is… everywhere.


They are the poster boys (and girls) for the art of complication.

They are also another cousin of the Energy Vampire.

I’m all for dealing with the (genuine) complications and the tough stuff that life throws at us, but I’m not for making things more difficult than they need to be.

Or making a mountain out of a molehill.

(So 1963 that expression… I love it).

When people come to talk to me about getting in shape (dropping some weight for example), I will invariably give them some highly complex and extremely scientific advice:

Move a bunch more, eat a bunch less.

Get yer heart rate up.

Get a bit sweaty.

Do it consistently.

See ya next time.

It’s very simple… but people still don’t do it.

That look of disappointment on their face is hilarious.

They think that I might let them in on some little-known scientific weight-loss secret.

Give them a shortcut perhaps.

A pill maybe.

Wave my magic wand.

Pull a six-pack outa my hat.

“Okay, here it is Mr Smith… put in less calories than you expend.. and you’ll lose fat.”

“Do it for long enough and you’ll lose a buncha fat.”

“Too complicated for you?”

“Taking notes?”

“Should I talk slower?”

“Any questions?”

“Mr Smith.. where are you going?”

“Mr Smith…?”

“Come back here fatty…”

The problem is that we don’t actually want simple, we want painless.

And effortless.

And simple… ain’t always painless.

Or effortless.

Or easy.

And we love… easy.

(Dear English Profs, I know I shouldn’t start all those sentences with ‘And’, so save yourself some key strokes).

Some of the most effective (and simple) strategies for creating real change (in many areas of our lives), require us to get uncomfortable.

Yes, it’s uncomfortable but it’s also kinda simple, straight forward.

Some of us have an aversion to discomfort because we’re spoiled, precious babies who want amazing results without the effort.

And amazing doesn’t work like that.

Get your head around that concept and you’ll make some progress instantly.

We are constantly looking for quick fixes and miracle solutions because we love shortcuts.

But the reality is that shortcuts don’t produce forever change and ironically, they (shortcuts) often lead to complications(!) down the track.

Weird huh?

Interestingly, the more we don’t deal with stuff (avoid discomfort, put our head in the sand, look for shortcuts), the more dysfunctional and the less capable we become.

Ironic, when we consider that actually dealing with pain and discomfort is where the real growth and learning comes from.

Some simple (uncomplicated) science for those who wanna drop a few pounds:

(Not that this post was meant to be about weight-loss… but I thought I’d chuck it in to demonstrate the simplicity of change).

(1) Body-fat is essentially stored energy (calories).

(2) If you expend more than you put in, you’ll be in energy deficit.

(3) If you’re in deficit your body will have to ‘find’ some energy from somewhere.

(4) It will find it on your ass (or close by).

(5) If you are in energy deficit of 500 calories per day (a coke and a cookie), you’ll lose about one pound (0.4kg) of fat per week.

Not complicated at all.

Yes, there’s a little more to it and a few other variables, but for the vast majority of us our key weight loss/management strategy should be to put less food in our mouth and move our body more.

Full stop.

Yet we continue to find new and exciting ways to complicate the process.

In all areas of our lives.

While the above information is more than enough ‘science’ to get most of us in shape or at least well on the way, we (we the society) continue to ignore the obvious (the simple) and keep trying to re-invent the ‘weight-loss wheel’.

Forget the ab-blaster 7000, the fat-melting tabs, the liver-heart-kidney-pancreas-and-lung cleansing diets, the electrodey (yep, a word) things you stick on yer body… and yer high-carb, low-carb, no-carb debate and simply eat less crap.

Too simple perhaps.

I dunno.

We also complicate things when it comes to relationships and communication.

Spending our lives not saying what we really think.

Not being honest.

Not dealing with problems.

Not making decisions.

Not being accountable or responsible.

Complicating relationships and situations by putting our head in the sand and not doing the simple.

A friend of mine always says:

“Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow….”

His life is a disaster.

Ultimately we waste way too much time, talent, energy and life on issues which could have been resolved quickly, simply and effectively long ago.

Then… when it all blows up (and it does) we ‘react, cope and struggle’ for months or years dealing with something that should be a distant memory.

Recently I was talking with a friend of mine (yes, I have one) at a social event when another friend (alright, two) came up to chat.

“Hey Craig…. we’re all planning a four-day hike at Cradle Mountain over Christmas… are you up for it?”


“Why not..”

“Don’t wanna..”

“How come…”

“Well, I love you all… but I don’t wanna spend my Christmas eating re-hydrated food and sleeping in tents with ten stinky people.”

“Okay, lemme know if you change yer mind.”

“Okay, see ya.”

The hiking guy walked away and my other friend (a girl) turned and said:

“How can you say that?”

“What, the truth?”

“Aren’t you scared you’ll offend them?”

“It’s not about them… it’s about how I want to spend my Christmas.”

“I like them, I just have no desire to go hiking.”

“But if it was a cheese-cake eating festival….. ”

We all do the ‘complication thing’ don’t we?

I still do it… but not so often these days.

It’s kinda liberating when you just deal with stuff then and there.

Do what needs to be done.

Simply, quickly, effectively.

Still being sensitive and caring towards others, of course… but choosing not to go the long way around.

Choosing not to complicate.

Some people need to take a five minute trip… but they constantly choose to go via Anchorage.

By foot.

(Do I have any readers in Alaska?)

People always say to me….

“I wish I’d embraced this mindset years ago.. my life would be completely different today..”

So why don’t you stop complicating your life today?

Or perhaps you could think about it for a bit longer.