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 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.

We Are All Spiritual Beings

You can distract yourself and pretend otherwise, but the need for spiritual connection is so entrenched in the human that it is dangerous to suppress it. It will come out in you raging about your bullshit job or complaining about your life. Unless we nourish that need constantly, we succumb to the dull, earthly pains and occasional pleasures that deny us true happiness.

But have at it. Pretend we are just founts of logic and reason who just need to grasp our shared humanity. And see where that gets you.

5 Things You Should Do Every Day

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These habits are the foundations of a happy life:

  1. Pray or meditate. Just take a few moments every morning to breathe, express your intention to have a good day, and wish peace and goodwill to your friends and family.
  2. Express gratitude. Before each meal, take a moment to express gratitude for your life.
  3. Take some time to write down your thoughts– particularly the ones that keep coming back over and over- in a journal.
  4. Read for self-improvement. Read the Bible, read a few self-help blogs, read some classic books. Invest time in this and yourself.
  5. Get outside, at least for a little bit. Unless it’s winter in Minnesota, get out and take a walk. This is why I suggest you get a dog.

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

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

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.