After four decades of cussing people out, I’ve decided to stop. I used to be a road rager, an f-bomb-dropper, a middle-finger-raiser, but no more. I’ve decided to exert some self-control and do better.
Believe me, I see sh#t all day long that makes me want to pop off on or to people. But over time I’ve learned the best way to influence is by modeling good behavior. Showing, not telling. So I’ve tried to eliminate profanity in my life which has the added benefit of eliminating it from my son’s life and the lives of others around me.
I also know that profanity is a sort of temperature of my mood. If I start cussing, it means I’m getting pretty angry about something. Anger is another thing I’m trying to eliminate from my life.
Growing up, my parents were always late. Late for every family gathering. Every Thanksgiving dinner. Every show or movie or event that was occurring. It was maddening and embarrassing. But I had no choice, I couldn’t drive myself to these gatherings.
As adults we often model our parents’ worst and best behaviors- smoking, committing suicide, being religious, being kind to our spouses, etc. So, for much of my adult life I was late to everything. Everything. It drove people crazy, put me in some serious binds, and made my life a lot more difficult and stressful. In my 40s, I’ve finally realized, I DON’T HAVE TO LIVE THIS WAY ANYMORE.
So I started radically simplifying my life- focusing on faith, family, and self-improvement- and started arriving a little bit early to appointments and dinners and meetings. And I couldn’t believe how great it felt to do so. I could sit there, take a few breaths, and be free to focus on other things.
Plan ahead and plan well. Makes life a lot easier.
Atheism is bad for your health. How, you say? Well, it forces you to fill up your time with something other than religion. 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 unnecessary 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.
My workplace is getting increasingly feminine. Not feminist, feminine. Casual dress is now allowed, teleworking is commonplace, and cooperation is valued more than any other trait.
Not too long ago, my workplace was all-male (auditing). Now it is approaching 70% female. Women are increasingly grabbing the top spots in the organization. The future is female, they comfortably say around here.
“Work-life balance” is the buzzphrase of this new era. Baby/wedding showers are a regular occurrence. I go occasionally because they have decent snacks, but I’m a little bit embarrassed, as any man should be.
Diversity training has become required for every employee. Disagreeing with the content may get you fired. There are a lot of LGBT month events around the vital issue of transgenderism. This is the “civil rights struggle of our time.”
Our counseling office- yes, we have a counseling office- increasingly offers classes and courses to protect each and every one of us from difficult emotions. Because, of course, painful emotions are the worst thing a person can encounter.
I’m currently watching Narcos on Netflix and finding myself in the strange position of being both repulsed by and kind of liking the character of Pablo Escobar. He is, of course, a horrible man. But he also is a good family man. He’s much like the Tony Soprano character- a likable, but pretty evil guy. He takes care of his family and he takes care of his crew members (for the most part). He is a provider and a protector, admirable traits to men.
This is why our culture needs stable, admirable archetypes. Without them, we start to gravitate away from the proper role model, JC.
Most people suffer from depression at some point in their lives or know someone who has. Here are seven things a depressed person can do to make life better almost immediately:
Establish a morning routine. Do you wake up at your girlfriend’s one morning, on your couch the next, and occasionally in your own bed?That needs to stop. A morning routine is critical to healthy functioning and when you start the day in disarray it usually only gets worse from there. So, wake up at roughly the same time every day, drink a glass of water, and do what you need to do to have a productive day.
Exercise. If you hate it, find a way to make it fun. It doesn’t have to be running marathons. Try rowing or swimming or bicycling or playing hoops. Again, just do something. And if you have a REALLY hard time doing it, then do it FIRST THING IN THE MORNING!
Build a spiritual practice. Buddhism, Catholicism, Quakerism, whatever. You might even be able to persuade me of the benefits of being a Wiccan. Regardless, though, JUST DO SOMETHING. Create a practice that helps you stay centered every day AND serves as a beginning or end point for every week. I know, I know, we all hate going to church. So add some fun to it like brunch or a giant latte or donuts. It’s important for many reasons. Foremost, it connects you with other humans. As a society we are facing an epidemic of loneliness. We need connection to other people. Try church, synagogue, meeting house, AA, whatever. Just something.
Make time for gratitude. You know when you’re sitting in Chick-fil-a on a road trip and you look over and the family next to you is praying before eating their meal? Yes, it’s awkward and a little embarrassing, but if you were to take 30 seconds 3 times a day to REMIND YOURSELF HOW FORTUNATE YOU ARE it might improve your outlook.
Figure out the patterns. We all have patterns of behavior that we repeat in our lives. Take some time to figure out which ones are holding you back. Are you overly focused on the superficial? Are you living up to your values? Do you keep dating the same types of people? It never hurts to work with a therapist, a coach, or even an app to help you figure things out.
Make a change. Maybe it’s time to get a new job or end a relationship or get a pet or move to a new city. Sometimes a dramatic change can shake you out of a rut. Now, don’t do anything that will hurt you in the long run- run it by a few people first- but explore the possibility of changing your situation, even if only for a period of time. Another simple idea- plan a vacation. Having something fun to plan and look forward to is half the fun!
Forgive yourself and others. Forgiving yourself is never easy and forgiving others isn’t always smart, but generally speaking, going down the path of forgiveness will only yield benefits for you. Explore readings and writing on forgiveness that might help you work through some of your thoughts and if nothing else works, try medicine.