A Simple 2016

I have only one prediction for 2016: simple.

Simple has been on the rise in all domains of life. Slow food. Minimalist design. Makers. One-click. One swipe. Texts instead of calls. Free shipping. Stream on-demand. I predict that anything that simplifies life and gives us back spaciousness and time will flourish this year.

Slow and simple. That’s what we want—and need!

As neuroscientist Dr. Richie Davidson points out in his work on well-being, one of our fundamental components of happiness as humans is to experience focus. We feel good when we are in a state of stable concentration. But in this crazy world where technology and its tweets, pings, and Snapchats have fracked our attention, we are disrupting the very stability of our emotional and mental activity. In 2016, we want our peace of mind back...

Slow and simple—that’s the design—and the medicine for what ails us.

How can we design for slow? Is it waking up slowly without checking our phones like my colleague David Ngo does? Is it taking up mindful eating—with gratitude for our food and contemplation of the sacrifice it took from humans, animals, and plants so that we can be nourished and live? Is it practicing mindfulness meditation, yin yoga, or tai chi? Is it reading from a sacred text or our favorite book?

One of my teachers of slow is my pit bull rescue dog, Tawny. She is beautiful and kind and sweet. But she is also incredibly anxious and, on the fight-or-flight continuum, she tends to fight when she’s scared—something called fear aggression. In fact, I had to get a special dog whisperer to train her because she was going after other dogs. While I have had dozens of animals in my life, that was a first for me. My trainer pointed out that Tawny was broadcasting high anxiety around other dogs. He said in nature, anxiety (or fear) draws attack and the other dogs were attacking her so she attacked back. He also noted Tawny’s anxiety rises when things around her go too fast. So we designed to slow each step of her life down—she has to sit before going out or in, wait until we tell her to eat, and walk slowly behind me on our walks. This has had a calming effect on Tawny and dramatically improved her quality of life!

We can all take a lesson from Tawny’s experience. People, like animals, are unnerved by our anxiety—and they may actually attack us in some way for it—and maybe we use our own fear aggression to lash out at them in return! As humans, we want to get away from anxiety and anxious people.

In 2016, expect to see everything simple, slow, and calm emerge. Advertisers have picked up on this need and are feeding us Zen this and Zen that. Yoga is everywhere. Mindfulness practices, clinically proved to reduce anxiety, are rapidly spreading.

Design for simple. Get rid of things. Say no to extras. Shorten your to-do list. Do nothing—regularly. Unplug. Be silent. Remember that in order to simplify you will need to take a design approach—be compassionate towards yourself and iterate until you get it right—then iterate again as your first design expires and the complexity of life creeps back in! Restore your simplicity again.

If you want to know more about designing for slow—or any other behavior change—I am hosting a FREE webinar THIS Thursday, January 14th at 9 am PST. Sign-up HERE .

Let’s design together! *smile
kyra