Simplicity vs. Complexity


I have been following the tang ping “lying flat” movement which originated in China, slowly gaining momentum. Chinese millennials and other young professionals globally are dropping out of the hypercompetitive rat race and adhering to a “slower lifesytle”– sleeping, reading, exercising and doing odd jobs.

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Tang ping I learned was instigated by a Chinese Millennial factory worker who drew his curtains one day, crawled into bed and posted his manifesto on Chinese social media about having the right to choose a “slower lifestyle.” He was inspired by a Greek philosopher who criticized the excesses of Athenian aristocrats. The manifesto went viral, popularized by young workers protesting the intense labor demands of China’s work culture. Resting/sleeping is a form of resistance for those who subscribe to tang ping. Now the movement has gone global, critics identifying it as a spiritual malaise protesting capitalism.

“Lying flat” is an extreme philosophy. Years ago, I remember all the buzz encompassing worklife balance, the mantra of workers aspiring to move up the corporate ladder. Work-life balance: the state of equilibrium where a person equally prioritizes the demands of one’s career and the demands of one’s personal life.

I respect people who take timeout to evaluate their core values and develop a lifestyle philosophy. True, work is a major component, but I believe most people tend to overlook the big picture. Specifically, how they live life simple or complex? I believe one major lifestyle cog are possessions or as the famous comedian George Carlin labeled stuff. Click and laugh. Possessions add complexity – staring with our homes(s), car(s), electronic gizmos, kitchen utensils, shoes, shoes, shoes, etc. Our digital time (a.k.a. TMI), as well managing hundreds of social media connections has added an element of complexity to life. Exercise routines have become more complex (gym time management plus equipment utilized) versus a simple walk, run or swim. Bottomline: We all have to choose the lifestyle formula which works best for us. A good starting point is to take timeout and evaluate your core values and then decide simplicity vs. complexity.

Back to Lou Huazhong the factory worker who posted the viral online “lying flat” manifesto. Is his life truly simple/slower, holed up in his room, curtains drawn, engaging on the Chinese social media platform Baidu, or complex managing his enormous online following?

Opinions welcomed!

1 thought on “

  1. The cogent question is the one you raise at the end, Jimmy. My hunch is his life may be hectic, but he may feel more in control of it. The question of who’s in charge of whom is key to me.


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