The Power of Ruthless Elimination


Bruce Lee imparted several pieces of wisdom in his short life. One of them being,

“Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.”

This essay is about the second part – Discard what is not.

Too often, we fill life with unimportant things, things that we don’t enjoy, that don’t makes us happy and things that don’t contribute to the betterment of our lives.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy ruthless elimination of all that is unnecessary, unneeded and unwanted. Life is short, so why fill it with junk?

What to Eliminate Ruthlessly?

There are plenty of things in life we can eliminate. It all depends what we value in life.

For me, I value family, physical health, mental stimulation, financial security, and teaching. These things energize me, excite me and give me purpose in life.

Things I don’t care about are cool clothes, fancy food, fast cars and latest technological gadgets. These things don’t add value to my life. So, I eliminate them as much as possible.


I eat are pretty much the exact same every day. To someone who doesn’t know me, may think it’s monotonous and boring. But everything I eat has a purpose to it. If it does not make me healthy, help me live longer or get faster, I don’t need it.

Don’t get me wrong. There was a time when I excessively ate junk food. I think of it as a foolish era of my life. As I grew mentally, I eliminated soda, cheese, most artificial sugar and packaged foods.


I buy several pairs of quality clothes and wear them for years, sometimes as long as decade. I don’t care to change my look every season. Keeping the same look every season, every year does not bother me. It does not add value to my life, so I eliminated the act of buying new clothes often.

“Bothers” is an interesting feeling. If giving something up bothers you, it’s a sign that you value that thing more than you thought you did. In that case, you may want to evaluate the long-term effects of what you’re giving up. If making the change does not yield meaningful results, you may not want to give it up, especially if you value it too much.


It the same. I drive average reliable cars that last me 10-15 years.

Latest Technological Gadgets

I treat technology as my slave. It has to make my life easy. If it doesn’t, I don’t need it. If the newest piece of technology does all the same things as the older piece of technology and does not add any meaningful contributions, I don’t need it.

You may very well feel different about the things I value and things I don’t value. That’s okay. No hard feelings. I hope you feel the same way.

The Result

It leaves a lot of holes, empty spaces.

Humans don’t like empty spaces. They can be stressful. To avoid this stress, we constantly look for ways to fill these empty spaces. As a result binge on too many shows, excessively eat junk food and complain unnecessarily.

So, now what?

Give those empty spaces a purpose.

Spend some time thinking how you want your life to be. We all personally know people who we would love to trade places with in life. Think about some elements of their life which you would like to incorporate in your life.

Next, think about the first thing you need to do to move towards that direction. Lastly, fill the empty spaces in your life

In Conclusion

With a little effort, we can engineer our life way our way, as opposed to living a life handed to us by our surroundings.


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