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.

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

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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.

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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.

The Simple Pleasure of Arriving Early

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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.

Why I Quit Cussing

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.

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Believe me, I see things all day long that make me want to pop off. But over time I’ve learned the best way to influence others is by modeling good behavior. Showing, not telling. So I’ve tried to eliminate profanity from my life, something 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.

Call it the Broken Windows theory of crankiness.

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.

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.