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.

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.

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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.

7 Tips to Manage Anger

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All of us struggle with anger to some degree or another, however, the feminization of society is making all anger- even the anger of hockey players- increasingly unacceptable. Here are 7 tips to help you manage anger in a soft, feminine world:

  1. At the moment of anger, meditate, say a prayer, and take a few deep breaths. This can save your hide and perhaps the life of someone else.
  2. Exercise regularly and consider an outlet like martial arts or boxing. Men were evolved to have the capacity for violence and yet we have so few acceptable outlets for it in today’s world. I recently started a boxing class and I’m having a blast.
  3. ALWAYS get enough sleep. I think for most people this is a necessary condition for decent behavior. I know that my anger is like a Porsche versus a Volvo when I’m not well rested.
  4. Get to know any other triggers. Self-awareness is so critical to growth. There are many ways to do it, figure out one that works for you.
    There are a number of tests you can take to get a better understanding of yourself- Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation, Jordan Peterson’s Self-Authoring program, and Myers-Briggs are some of the countless options out there. 
  5. Leave the room, take a walk. With some people you just have to do this.
  6. Splash cold water on your face. This is known to work, but requires extracting yourself from the situation somehow.
  7. Try to remember your values at all times. If you are a Christian, try to see the face of Jesus in your enemy or if not or you prefer, the Buddha or Gandhi or MLK.

A mindless moment of anger can ruin your life in 2019, seemingly like never before. Protect yourself.

7 Tips to Beat Depression

tan and white short coat dog laying down in a brown wooden floor
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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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.

#7Tips to Be a Better Father

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It’s that time of year when we are supposed to recognize our fathers despite raising us under the inherent tyranny that is family life. Here are a few ideas to help you be the best dad you can be, whether your kid deserves it or not. Kidding! They all deserve the best you can offer.

  1. Put the phone down and pay attention! This is perhaps the most important bit of advice I can offer. For at least a little while every day, spend time with your kids without any other distractions. None. Focus! You’re kid will appreciate it greatly and you’ll remember it for years to come.
  2. Carve out one-on-one time with each kid regularly. This is obviously easier in some families than others, but try to spend that one-on-one time on at least a weekly basis. Maybe every Saturday morning or every Sunday afternoon. With some flexibility, of course.
  3. Remember you are being watched. I was watching my 4.75-year-old eat cereal the other day and after he had finished scooping out and eating the O’s, he picked up the bowl and drink it down like a hungry orphan. This is something I learned my from father and he learned from his, no doubt. Anyway, everything you do is being watched carefully. And eventually, much of that behavior will be acted out. So behave yourself.
  4. Educate yourself a little. There are more and more resources available to parents. In the DC area, we have a fantastic organization called the Parent Encouragement Program that offers dozens of classes online and in-person on positive parenting. I’ve taken a few. Very helpful.
  5. Take good care of yourself. If you are responsible for others, whether financially or otherwise, it’s critical that you make sure they are cared for and supported. Eat healthy. Exercise. Go to the doctor. It’s not that hard and it’s very important.
  6. Play rough with your boys. There is some evidence that ADHD is linked to a lack of rough play in childhood. There are some who argue that it may just be a sleep deficit. I’m on the fence. I have it. I’m just not sure what causes it.
  7. Try to get along with the mother of your child. This may be the hardest one, especially in cases of divorce, but it’s important. Really try!

Will try to update this with links ASAP.- dv

7 Tips to Shut Down That Negative Inner Voice

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A negative inner voice can prevent you from reaching your potential. It can talk you out of starting a business or talking to an attractive woman or otherwise just make you miserable. Here are 7 things you can do to tame that negative self-talk:

  1. Learn to meditate. Meditation is a great way to pause and remind yourself that the nasty voice in your head is not helpful and not telling the truth.
  2. Build a spiritual practice. This is crucial for EVERY HUMAN. So many men are resistant to religion preferring to be ruled by “reason and logic.” This is total nonsense, of course. A spiritual practice grounded in gratitude IS the foundation to a healthy life.
  3. Forgive yourself. We all screw up. Some of us quite badly. But no one is beyond redemption. All of us, even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is doing the best we can with the information we have.
  4. Tell that voice, “Go f*ck yourself. Not helpful.” Bill Burr has a great rant about depression. In short, he argues that depression is something you have to keep at bay with anger.
  5. Try to identify it or the source of it. Give it a name. Sometimes it’s a parent. Or a mean authority figure. Try to figure out whose behavior it is modeling. This may help you realize how mean and nasty you are to yourself at times.
  6. Think about the advice you might offer a friend in your shoes. Write it down and read it back to yourself. Would you berate and abuse that friend and tell him what a worthless person he is? No!
  7. Distract yourself with music or a podcast or another mood changer. Sometimes you need to shake things up and change your mood. Music, a podcast, or an audiobook can all help to focus your attention away from that hateful voice.

7 Tips to Shut Down That Negative Inner Voice

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A negative inner voice can prevent you from reaching your potential. It can talk you out of starting a business or talking to an attractive woman or otherwise just make you miserable. Here are 5 things you can do to tame that negative self-talk:

  1. Learn to meditate. Meditation is a great way to pause and remind yourself that the nasty voice in your head is not helpful and not telling the truth.
  2. Build a spiritual practice. This is crucial for EVERY HUMAN. So many men are resistant to religion preferring to be ruled by “reason and logic.” This is total nonsense, of course. A spiritual practice grounded in gratitude IS the foundation to a healthy life.
  3. Forgive yourself. We all screw up. Some of us quite badly. But no one is beyond redemption. All of us, even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is doing the best we can with the information we have.
  4. Tell that voice, “Go f*ck yourself. Not helpful.” Bill Burr has a great rant about depression. In short, he argues that depression is something you have to keep at bay with anger.
  5. Try to identify it or the source of it. Give it a name. Sometimes it’s a parent. Or a mean authority figure. Try to figure out whose behavior it is modeling. This may help you realize how mean and nasty you are to yourself at times.
  6. Think about the advice you might offer a friend in your shoes. Write it down and read it back to yourself. Would you berate and abuse that friend and tell him what a worthless person he is? No!
  7. Distract yourself with music or a podcast or another mood changer. Sometimes you need to shake things up and change your mood. Music, a podcast, or an audiobook can all help to focus your attention away from that hateful voice.

7 Tips to Enjoy Exercise

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I’m not a fan of exercising. I pretty much hate it and then I kinda hate myself for hating it. So I try to make it fun. In fact, I try to make basically everything fun. And I find I can really enjoy exercising when I incorporate it into other fun activities.

Long dog walks. When I have the time on a Saturday morning and the weather is nice, I’ll take my dog on a 3 or 4-mile walk. As the Dog Whisperer says, a tired dog is a good dog. He enjoys it, I do, and everyone is better behaved.

Biking to work. Another way I incorporate exercise into my daily life is by biking to work during the spring and summer. It’s an invigorating way to start the day and fantastic exercise if you can manage it. It requires a lot of complicated gear and clothing transfers so it’s best to join a gym near your office with lockers for storing clean clothes.

Playing pickup basketball. Hoops is one of the best ways to stay in shape. There is the chance of the odd ankle twist and finger jam, but the consistent effort works out virtually all of your body. I try to play basketball one night per week at a nearby gym. It’s one of the few remaining bastions for male bonding in my community and a hell of a good way to stay in shape.

Getting out in nature. Hiking or taking a long walk in the woods- unless you’re in a rapey urban park- will do wonders for your spirit. If you have time, get well out of the city.

Swimming. I know it sounds boring, but I try to swim weekly by viewing it as a sort of meditation practice. I find that once I’m in the water, and especially when I’m underwater, I reach a deeply meditative mental state. It’s great when you really need to work through an issue you’re grappling with.

Find a partner. It always helps to have the accountability of friends. 

Build the habit. Once it’s a habit it becomes a lot less painful. Make time for exercise in your life and make it fun.

There are ways to make exercise a lot less unpleasant. Try them.

7 Tips to Boost Your Career

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If you’re dissatisfied at work, and let’s be honest, most of us are, here are a few things you can do to get moving towards something better:

  1. Update that resume (regularly). It’s crucial to update your resume regularly so that you are ready whenever a new opportunity arises or you connect with a new contact. And consider sprucing it up. That pathetic Times New Roman font you’ve been using since 1998 is outdated. Of course, do what’s appropriate for the industry- creative or otherwise.

  2. Practice interviewing. I’m not kidding. Find some interview questions on the Internet then get out the iPad or your phone and film yourself answering questions. Notice if you sound too casual or lazy or inarticulate or say “like” too much. This is REALLY IMPORTANT! People will go their entire lives without knowing what idiots they sound like most of the time.

  3. Take some aptitude and personality tests. There are a number of tests you can take to get a better understanding of yourself- Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation, Jordan Peterson’s Self-Authoring program, and Myers-Briggs are some of the countless options out there.

  4. Do something “extra” at work. Organize the office trip to a baseball game or a happy hour (be careful) or bring in a speaker on some important subject. Those things are not part of the job description, but they give you some visibility with the boss and other higher-ups.

  5. Accept feedback. This is a tough one. If you are sensitive or thin-skinned or prideful, this one might hurt. So prepare yourself. Toughen yourself up. Learn some assertiveness and learn to face your fear of negative feedback. It’s hard to, but remember it is a learning opportunity.

  6. Explore online training options. There are countless ways to cultivate your skills while you are in a job that you don’t love. Look for things that interest and will help you. Learning to write better, speak better, and generally present yourself better is a good place to start.

  7. Dress better. It sounds weird, but it makes a big difference. Your appearance, your attitude, all of the little things you do are part of what will earn you opportunities in life.