7 tips to simplify your life

The modern world is enormously complicated. It can be like waking up in a kayak racing through whitewater rapids every day. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are 7 tips to help you simplify your life:

  1. Embrace a spiritual or religious practice. So many folks dismiss religion as a quaint notion in this hyper-informed modern world. But there is tremendous wisdom in the world’s great religions. One of the major benefits of this is simply the routine or habit of it. Atheism and secularism don’t offer any structure.
  2. Purge your life of too many belongings. Empty out those closets and storage units and unfinished basements. A lot of that crap you’ve completely forgotten about anyway.
  3. Keep the sabbath. This can be an absolutely wonderful addition to a person’s life. Having a quiet Saturday or Sunday on the schedule every week can be a wonderful period of quiet for an individual or a family. Learn to be with yourself or with others, but not racing to a practice or event of some sort. I love my sabbath. Sometimes I voluntarily give it up, but I miss it when I do.
  4. Express gratitude at every meal or, preferably, MORE often. Your actions follow your thoughts. Think good thoughts. Think grateful thoughts. For even in our worst times, there are always many more people who have it worse.
  5. Limit your time with screens and when you do, make it useful. My parents used to refer to the TV as the “idiot box.” They were right. Now, we carry idiot boxes around in our pockets. Try to cut out the time wasters that squeeze the rest of your valuable time. Or when you do, read something that teaches you something or makes you think. There are billions of options.
  6. Take a regular phone fast. I like to have lots of people over to my place and I tend to be very welcoming of all kinds of folks. So, occasionally I encounter someone who comes from a culture that is a bit more permissive of distractions and interruptions. In fact, it really pisses me off when I’m socializing with people and someone whips out their phone while I’m talking to them, even if it is to look up something that pertains to our conversation. So I’ve pretty much banned the use of phones in my house. I treat it like smoking. Go outside and do it. Another option is to set a time, say 8 pm, after which you do not look at your gadgets. Helps to have a partner in this.
  7. Say NO to too many activities. There are a million ways to spend your time. Driving all of the time should not be one of them. Factor in whether an activity is going to complicate your life or your child’s life in such a way that it puts a burden on the family and try to avoid that. Too often we are tyrannized by the idea that we or our children should be continually accomplishing something. Overall, yes, they should, but not every minute of every day.

The benefits of anger

Anger is generally viewed as harmful, damaging, and destructive. But I’d like to take another perspective- anger is motivating, energizing, and your mind telling you to take action because things are not right.

I’ve struggled with managing anger my entire life. At times it has gotten me in some fairly serious trouble. However, it has also helped me tackle problems, get stuff done, and stick up for myself and others when needed.

Self-mastery is the key. It is difficult to master your emotions, especially one like anger that at times feels like a train rolling downhill. By applying mindfulness and the principle of detachment, there is an opportunity to redirect that anger towards useful purposes.

It’s not easy and it won’t happen overnight, but slowing down and recognizing the source of that anger may help you channel it towards something positive. Something like hitting the gym or signing up for a boxing class.

Either way, don’t beat yourself up for being angry. There is plenty to be angry about. Just don’t let it cause you self-destruction.

Mindfulness for folks with ADHD

The inability to focus plagues a person with ADHD. In fact, I find that if something I’m reading doesn’t grab my interest within about 15 seconds, it is going to be a struggle to stay with it. That or I’ll have to reread it several times.

Mindfulness is not exactly a cure for ADHD, but a tool to help manage it. It can help you metaphorically stop and smell the roses and focus on the moment. By slowing life down and working to tame the blizzard of thoughts inside your head, mindfulness will help you stop and notice what you are feeling and thinking. It will help you focus on what is happening around you.  

Photo by Maria Geller on Pexels.com

So how does it work? In short, by consciously slowing life down and orienting your mind towards appreciating or at least accepting the moment. This doesn’t mean you have to sit in silence for 30 minutes in a perfectly balanced position (though that helps). It simply means observing what is happening in and around you in a nonjudgmental way.

It’s helped me see firsthand the many ways I make my life harder by letting my thoughts run amok. Gain control of your mind and you will attain true freedom.

You must forgive your parents

Obviously there are some exceptions, but generally speaking this is vital to maturing and truly becoming an adult. As you get older, you may eventually realize that there is no grownup handbook and that even with their flaws, your parents did the best they could. Usually they just learned from and internalized the failings of their parents.

Once you do forgive, I believe you’ll feel a sense of relief and freedom. This is wisdom.

Cynicism is our national religion

Photo by Sawyer Sutton on Pexels.com

The consequences of the 1960s and 1970s continue to yield vast cultural destruction. Our national identity is no longer clear or shared by anyone. The right emphasizes patriotic virtue-signaling displays. The left now starts to show its scorn for America rather openly.

Gen Xers were not taught that America is a great nation, but rather a deeply flawed and ambiguous force in the world today. And this was LONG BEFORE TRUMP.

For 60 years we’ve been steadily fed a barrage of reasons to lose faith in our civic institutions, our industries, our reputation as the land of opportunity, etc. Indeed, we’ve been taught AND given plenty of reason to hate our institutions- news media, religious institutions, “MEN!,” etc., etc.

But it’s taking a toll on us all.

Anything you want you can get delivered to you right now

That’s a problem for many of us. Whether it’s alcohol, weed, women, in large segments of the western world in and around cities, you can order nearly anything you want.

Why is this a problem and not simply an amazing thing? Because our brains were not meant for this many choices, this much discipline, simply to get through each day.

Modern life forces us to make too many choices. That’s why we’re all overwhelmed. Life used to be a lot simpler.

Everything you buy complicates your life

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

No one thinks about this because we live in an ultra-materialistic society, but it’s true. Aside from food and toilet paper, pretty much everything you buy adds to the number of things you have to maintain and keep somewhere. It may also require getting rid of something old, another hassle you have to deal with. Then, if it is technology, for example, you need it to work consistently.

I love my wi-fi Bluetooth speakers. LOVE THEM. I can take them all around my house and on to the front and back porches. But… when they don’t work, about 5% of the time I practically fly into a rage. Obviously, this is my problem but you see the point.

The more stuff we have, the more we are weighed down by it. The less we have, the less we have to worry about. Lesson in there.

7 Tips to Beat Anxiety

Most of us struggle with anxiety from time to time. That’s totally normal. It’s when it takes over your life and alters your behavior for the worse that you need to take some steps. Here are 7 tips that can make a big difference:

Plan ahead. This is BY FAR the most important tip. Take the time to think through how your day is going to go and what small or large things you can do to make it all go more smoothly. Nearly every situation you can encounter may be endured with proper planning.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Pexels.com

Give yourself enough, or even extra, time. I used to be late all the time. Then I discovered the joy of planning better and started getting most places early. It’s wonderful. So relaxing. So calming. Try it!

Call out the negative voice. Simply point out to that voice in your head, “I’m sorry, but that’s not helpful right now.” Learning to control that voice will change your life!

Explore medication and therapy. Medications can really help and dismissing them is just foolish. So, consider a variety of medications from supplements to cannabis to help take some of the struggle out of your day. And get thee to therapy. We ALL need it. All of us. So figure out a way.

Exercise! This alone can have a major impact on a person’s anxiety level. Push yourself a little bit. Sweat some of that negative energy out and you’ll feel better.

Build a spiritual practice. Try to incorporate some moments of spirituality into every day. Say a brief prayer of gratitude before each meal. Take a moment to kiss your spouse or pet your dog. And once per week, as a family, go to church or synagogue or meeting house and give thanks.

Forgive yourself and others. We all make mistakes. Some of them really awful. But we do so out of ignorance or lack of self-control or confusion. So, forgive yourself. And forgive those who’ve… You get the picture. Again, religion serves to remind us so well of compassion, forgiveness, service, sacrifice- all of the things that humans really need to learn and which give life meaning.

Vengeance is a lazy form of grief

Photo by ginu plathottam on Pexels.com

This African proverb is among the most powerful words I’ve ever read. When you think about it, you know it’s true. We often wish harm to those who hurt us, but usually it is because we’ve been deeply hurt by them.

Is it laziness, though? It takes work to understand your anger and hurt. It takes real self-exploration to grasp the source of pain.

But it’s worth it. And if it can help you heal and reach a place of forgiveness, then it may help you overcome much more.

Atheism is bad for your health

What or who do you worship? Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Atheism is bad for your health. How, you say? Well, it forces you to fill up your time and worldview with something other than religion and that is usually something pretty incoherent. Let’s be honest. Religion is imperfect, but it gives a person some structure.

For another, atheism enables the flourishing of anxiety and depression. In a religious tradition you are supposed to put God first, never yourself. So the endless ruminating and dwelling in one’s own mind and about one’s own problems yields unnecessarily self-destructive thoughts.

Then there is the absence of moral guidance. For years I argued with my conservative religious friends about who was more “moral.” I was a liberal and I was wrong. In my travels I learned that without a religion humans are deeply confused about right and wrong. Not the big things. All but the sociopaths get the big things, but we are confused about the smaller ways that we choose good and evil, right and wrong, leaving us vulnerable in the modern world.

Without religion, most of us are lost. Even, perhaps especially, if we don’t know it.