Leidy Klotz is a professor at the University of Virginia and is the author of "Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less." During our conversation, Leidy talks about why humans are so wired to add to, rather than subtract from, their life, how addition is a signal of competence that we are hard-wired to display, and the downsides of this natural tendency.
Leidy also talks about the many ways in which subtracting can be beneficial: from quitting smoking and high-sugar diets, to removing modern addictions like excessive social media use, to getting rid of work meetings to create slack for creativity and focus.
The power of subtraction can't be unseen once it's glimpsed. Evolution operates by removing what doesn't work, the "via negativa" concept notes that we know what is wrong with more clarity than what is right, that knowledge grows by subtraction, and human wellbeing is often best boosted by removing a toxic relationship, a toxic boss, or toxic stress. There is a humility in this approach, and as Leidy notes, perhaps we all need to be more-often prompted to tweak our life goals and New Years' resolutions to include habits that need to be subtracted, in addition to those we want to add.