Skip to Navigation

This is perhaps one of the defining mantras of our age. ‘How to achieve more with less’ is usually applied to the workplace and business, what with spiralling costs and a crashing economy and all that. We hear it so often that we might overlook how the idea can be used to improve our personal lives as well.

The concept is simple, and because it is counter-intuitive (how can ‘less’ produce ‘more’?), it is appealing. It sounds as if it might just work. Maybe it is Eastern or something… they know a thing or two about productivity in the orient… Isn’t that where Zen comes from… etc.

We’ve seen the headlines that apply the idea to business, then there was weight-loss (No More Crash Diets);  eating (Slow Food: Eat it to Save it); exercise (The Bare Minimum Keeps you Fit); and even school homework (Less is More When it Comes to Homework). For anyone used to taking a Solution Focused perspective this is not such an odd concept: rather than struggling to solve problems by doing something new, simply look at what you are doing that works, and do more of it. Repeating success is easy, enjoyable and affirming.

Now it seems that there are situations where we benefit from the perception of doing less, while we are actually doing more. In Green Care: A Conceptual Framework, the authors draw on studies that compare walking in green spaces with walking in a built-up environment. When we walk in a natural environment we actually expend more energy and move a bit faster than we do in the latter, but we feel as if we are doing less.

Green is good

The benefits of a natural environment don’t stop there. It has been known for a long time, for example, that greenery promotes healing, so that hospital planners factor this into their designs, and that disruptive behaviour in children diminishes when they are outside connecting with nature. Trees and landscapes also reduce stress and increase resilience, and for those who can’t get outside even a picture or a screen-saver has benefits. The link here is that though popular notions about benefitting from nature often involve extreme challenges and tests of endurance, the reality is that, as Oliver Burkeman says “Even the tiniest kinds of engagement with nature deliver a psychological boost.”

So, as we are constantly exhorted to do more – both by others and our own expectations – it is worth remembering that our species has been shaped by the natural environment, the ebb and flow of the seasons, and our innate ability to reflect and learn. Strive as we might to do more, aiming to do less may enable us to reach the same ends, and find more enjoyment while we are at it.

See also

Oliver Burkeman, This column will change your life: nature and nurture.

Green Care: A Conceptual Framework; A report of the Working Group on the Health Benefits of Green Care


  • Nature delivers a psychological boost

Latest from the blog

Personal Calvary, and Chocolate

There are two types of people in the world, I’ve been told; those that can eat a bar of chocolate one piece at a time, and those who don’t even bother trying. The latter group have no brakes, and ‘sharing’ isn’t in their vocabulary (should that be vocadbury?*). There are two types when it comes […]

Continue reading

How to Adjust to Change


Resisting change is not only a waste of time, it also makes it harder to deal with. Following advice from other people is probably not the right way to go either (you can still read this though).

Change can be difficult, but it needn’t be as big a problem as we often make it.

Continue reading

Brief Therapy for Depression

Most depressions can be cured or substantially alleviated yet we still pretend that they can’t. Hand-wringing and attempts at sympathy don’t help, enlightenment and common understanding will. Treatment guidelines are explicit, brief problem-solving talk-therapy is a proven treatment.
We should be accepting and treating depression as the common ailment it is, not shrouding it in mystery and pretending that we don’t know what to do about it.

Continue reading
FREE DOWNLOAD - Get it now.

How to be more Resilient

Get my super-helpful guide '9 Steps to Resilience' absolutely FREE, when you subscribe to my newsletter.

Understand the steps to resilience and you can develop the ability to cope with problems and setbacks with less stress and more confidence.
%d bloggers like this: