Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper: Less Is More
“I have spent my whole life judging the distance between American reality and the American dream.” — Bruce Springsteen
The other night, I was having dinner with a friend when she said something that really struck me.
She said: “I just want less. Less stuff. Less to worry about. Less to do. Less of everything, really. I’d be willing to give up a lot just to get less.”
I couldn’t stop thinking about her words as I walked back to my hotel that night.
As we head into our nation’s birthday, this concept of “less is more” is very much on my mind. What do we need to feel peaceful, joyful and happy? Do we need more, or do we need less? Perhaps we already have enough, and should instead focus on giving more to others.
I know I share my friend’s feeling that less is more. I want less, too. I want less of what keeps me from getting closer to what my heart and soul crave. I want less of what robs me from getting more of what really matters.
Now when I say “more,” I don’t mean more stuff. I’m wise enough these days to know that stuff doesn’t bring happiness. I’m also wise enough to know that busyness doesn’t bring peace and that outward success doesn’t bring joy.
True happiness, peace and joy come from spending time in connection with those you love and care about, and one of those people in my life is my friend Eddie.
Every time I’m in New York for The Today Show, Eddie is the one who picks me up in in the wee hours of the morning and drives me to work. He doesn’t just pick me up in his car, though. He also picks me up in life. Eddie is a hard-working man who loves his wife, loves his family, loves his job and—guess what?—also loves me.
How do I know? I just do. I can feel it, and, for me, that’s huge. Eddie tells me things about myself that I’ve forgotten or never even knew before. He always reassures me of the important things in life.
This week, Eddie talked to me about how he came to realize that achieving or earning “more” wouldn’t lead to a big pot of gold, like he was raised to believe.
Once he stopped trying to always do more, be more, or make more, Eddie said he ultimately got more of what really matters. Organizing his life in a way that works for him has given him more love, time and freedom to enjoy his life and his family.
I wanted to write about Eddie this week because I want more of what he wants, too. I want more time with people who are good, hopeful and hard-working. I want more time with people who have the time to talk and connect. I want more time to pause, reflect and appreciate those who matter most to me.
My other lesson from spending time with Eddie this week: never, ever doubt the difference that you can make in another person’s life. You can make someone’s day by reminding them of their strengths, or you can ruin their day by belittling them or seeding doubt. Every word and interaction we have matters because you just never know the mark that you might be leaving on someone else’s day.
My wish for you is that you find an Eddie in your life who can also bring you this kind of joy. I don’t get to see him every month, but when I do, he brings me the kind of joy that lasts for a good, long while.
As I watched so many heartbreaking news stories this week about people risking their lives to cross the border into our country, they also got me thinking about this concept of less vs. more. All these families want is a chance at safety, opportunity and freedom. They want it so badly that they’re willing to travel across rivers, mountains and deserts with almost nothing for the hope of getting a little more.
More. Less. How much is enough? It’s worth asking ourselves as we gear up for Fourth of July—a day when we celebrate everything we love about our country. I encourage you to ask yourself this week, “What do we stand for as a country?” Do we stand for wanting more, more, more? Or do we already have enough? Might we be willing to have a little less, just so that others can have more?
It’s worth thinking about. After all, July 4 isn’t just a day for fireworks, cookouts and pool parties. It’s a day when we should pause to reflect on the forefathers and foremothers who risked so much to build this country—the land of the free. May we remember them, and may we honor those who are still fighting for our freedoms today.
May we also recognize our shared humanity and all the things that make this big, diverse, beautiful nation so great. Our humanity lives in the DNA of what it means to be an American. On this Fourth, let’s celebrate that.
Dear God, thank you for all that I have in my life. Whenever I am wanting for more, help me remember all the blessings you have given me and that I, on my own, am enough. Amen.
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NEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
1. The Sunday Paper Architect of Change of the Week: Tyler Perry. When Perry accepted the BET Awards’ Ultimate Icon Award last week, he gave an inspiring speech on the necessity of determination and reaching your goals.
2. News to Make You Think: The Policy Idea Families Have Been Waiting For. In a New York Times op-ed, Ai-jen Poo and Benjamin W. Veghte write that their new social insurance program “would provide affordable early child care, paid leave, assistance for people with disabilities and elder care for people of all incomes.”
3. News You May Have Missed: New ‘Female Viagra’ Ignites Debate Around Drugs and Desire. The FDA approval of the drug Vyleesi for low libido has reignited a debate over the role drugs should play in complicated issues like desire.
4. News You Can Use: 8 Common Health Problems Women Ignore, And Why They Should Pay Attention. Women often ignore their health issues, but this piece reminds us to listen to our bodies so that our small problems don’t lead to larger ones.
5. News for Your Mental Health: Why Spending Time With Friends Is Great For Your Mental Health. A new study suggests that the strength of a person’s social circle was “a better predictor of self-reported stress, happiness and well-being levels than fitness tracker data on physical activity, heart rate and sleep.”
6. Our Yippee! Moment of the Week: Mom Captures Poignant Moment Between Her Two Children. Aundrea Smith shot this sweet photo of her son, Derek, embracing his little sister, Charlee, during her Pre-K graduation. Derek’s emotions were revealed as he told Charlee how proud he was of her.
THE SUNDAY PAPER REFLECTION
With only a few words, this beautiful reflection by the poet known as Wilder says so much. Just as flowers need time to blossom, so do we as we move forward in our journey.
THE SUNDAY PAPER DINNER CLUB
The Sunday Paper Dinner Club: We are all about inspiring hearts and minds, being in community and moving humanity forward. Here at The Sunday Paper, we believe that one of the best ways to foster connection is to gather at a table for conversation and healthy food. Since there is no better time to come together than right now, we hope you’ll join us in our mission. Join the Sunday Paper Dinner Club.
This Week’s Conversation Starter: Do you wish you had more, or less, in your life these days?
THE SUNDAY PAPER IS A PROUD PARTNER OF THE WOMEN’S ALZHEIMER’S MOVEMENT
“If You Have a Brain,You Should Be Worried About Alzheimer’s” — Maria
In honor of June being Brain Awareness Month, Maria sat down this week with “Morning Joe” co-host and Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski to discuss why women should care about the Alzheimer’s beginning in their 20s, and how we can all boost our brainpower as we age.
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