Cynicism is our national religion

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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.

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.

Atheism is bad for your health

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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.

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 Start Your Day

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A regular morning routine, with a few pleasant additions, will make you a happier, more productive worker bee. Here are 7 tips to get you started.

  1. Drink a glass of water.
  2. Meditate for 3 minutes or more.
  3. Read something inspirational.
  4. Give thanks for what you have and pray (or wish) for a good day for you and well, everyone else. It’s okay to be specific. Even for yourself.
  5. Plan ahead as much as you possibly can. This is the key to any important activity in life. Take a bit of time to plan ahead and everything will go much smoother.
  6. Take a few minutes for humor or fun like reading the newspaper or doing a crossword puzzle.
  7. Get as ready as you can the night before and you should probably get in bed by 11.

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.