Carl Gustav Jacobi was a German mathematician in the early 1800s, famous for his study of elliptical integrals.

As a professor, Jacobi was known to tell his students, “Man muss immer umkehren.” Roughly translated: "One must always invert.” (Finally, my college German class put to use!)

Jacobi was guiding his students toward the idea that it’s easier to understand complex equations when you work backwards from a clear result.

Inverting isn’t just practical in math, but also in life.

With this month’s theme of Simplicity, I have been thinking of ways to simplify my life — my commitments, my material possessions, even the digital content I consume.

I’m having a difficult time cutting things back. I just don’t know what to get rid of.

Taking Jacobi's advice, I decided to invert the question. Instead of asking myself what I need to get rid of, I imagined what a more simplified life would look like. What was I doing? What was I wearing? What was I reading? How was I spending my time?

The question went from, “What do I need to get rid of?” to, “What do I want to keep?”

Start with the end in mind,

Dave Radparvar
Co-Founder, Holstee

P.S. Speaking of starting with the end in mind, in our Digital Welcome Guide we challenge you to write your own eulogy and to imagine how you might be remembered in order to help ground you in the values you choose to live today. It’s a powerful exercise that I often return to. In case you are curious, here is my eulogy which I wrote and shared a couple years ago.

Begin your day feeling grounded and inspired.

A free 30-day email series where we share the most impactful stories and ideas that have helped us on our journey to live a more meaningful life.

✌️ Free. Unsubscribe anytime.

Welcome to Holstee

Living with intention is an ongoing practice, not a destination. Inspired by this, we’ve created a range of products to help you on your journey to live both fully and mindfully, including the Holstee Membership, Reflection Cards, and our recently-launched



This article is part of our series on the theme of Simplicity.

EXPLORE Simplicity →

Shop Holstee

product-image product-image product-image

Inspiration and tools to help you live a more meaningful life.