Tuesday, December 31, 2013

11 Easy Ways to Uncomplicate Your Life

Thanks again to Marc and Angel Hack Life for this article. I hope you visit their website and take a look at what they have to offer!

Life is actually pretty simple, but we insist on making it complicated.  Here are a few easy ways to uncomplicate it:
  1. Learn from the past, and then get the heck out of there! – Past mistakes should teach you to create a wonderful future; not cause you to be afraid of it.  Don’t carry your mistakes around with you.  Instead, place them under your feet and use them as stepping stones.  Never regret.  If it’s good, it’s wonderful.  If it’s bad, it’s experience.  Success is not about where you are standing at any given point in time; it’s about how much you’ve learned and how far you’ve come to get there.
  2. Focus on what’s truly important.  – Identify what’s most important to you.  Eliminate as much as you possibly can of everything else.  No wasted time, no fluff, no regrets.
  3. Focus on being productive, not being busy. – Don’t just get things done; get the right things done.  Results are always more important than the time it takes to achieve them.  Stop and ask yourself if what you’re working on is worth the effort.  Is it bringing you in the same direction as your goals?  Don’t get caught up in odd jobs, even those that seem urgent, unless they are also important.  Read The 4-Hour Workweek.
  4. Give what you want to receive. – You get the best out of others, and every situation, when you give the best of yourself.  Start practicing thegolden rule.  If you want love, give love.  If you want friends, be friendly.  If you want money, provide value.  It works.  It really is this simple.
  5. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Don’t try to be friends with everyone.  Cultivate closer relationships with fewer people.  Start focusing on being everything to someone.  Helping or pleasing everyone is impossible.  But making one person smile can change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world.  So narrow your focus and be yourself.
  6. Do what you know in your heart is right. – Stop doing immoral things simply because you can.  Start being honest with yourself and everyone else.  Don’t cheat.  Be faithful.  Be kind.  Do the right thing!  It is a less complicated way to live.  Integrity is the essence of everything successful.  When you break the rules of integrity you invite serious complications into your life.  Keep life simple and enjoyable by doing what you know in your heart is right.
  7. Organize your space. – Start clearing clutter.  Get rid of stuff you don’t use and then organize what’s left.  Keeping both your living and working areas organized is crucial.  If you have a cluttered space, it can be distracting and stressful.  A clear space is like a blank canvas, available to be used to create something great.
  8. Be efficient. – Stop being inefficient simply because you’ve always done it that way.  If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.  Many times we live with unplanned, complex systems in our lives simply because we haven’t given them much thought.  Instead, streamline your life by finding better ways of handling common tasks.  Focus on one system at a time (your cleaning system, your errands system, your paperwork system, your email system, etc.) and try to make it simplified, efficient, and logical.  Then, once you have it perfected, stick to it.  Read Getting Things Done.
  9. Let things be less than perfect. – Smile every chance you get; not because life has been easy, perfect, or exactly as you had anticipated, but because you choose to be happy and grateful for all the good things you do have, and all the problems you know you don’t have.  You must accept the fact that life is not perfect, that people are not perfect, and that you are not perfect.  And that’s okay, because the real world doesn’t reward perfection.  It rewards people who get GOOD things done.  And the only way to get GOOD things done is to be imperfect 99% of the time.
  10. Let go of needless drama and those who create it. – Never create unnecessary drama, and don’t surround yourself with those who do. Choose friends who you are proud to know, people you admire, who love and respect you – people who make your day a little brighter simply by being in it.  Don’t walk away from negative people, RUN!  Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.
  11. Forget what everyone else thinks and wants for you. – One of the greatest freedoms is simply not caring what everyone else thinks of you.  Sometimes you need to step outside, get some air, and remind yourself of who you are and what you want to be.  The best thing you can do is follow your heart.  Take risks.  Don’t just accept the safe and easy choices because you’re afraid of what others will think, or afraid of what might happen.  If you do, nothing will ever happen.  Don’t let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big.  They aren’t.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

10 Ways to Feel More Engaged and Alive

I came across this website and it has some interesting items on it, this one particular about how to feel more engaged and alive. And they are simple things to do. Things we probably take for granted or feel silly or childish doing. Set your inner child free and immerse yourself in these 10 ways!

Credit goes to Andrew Andestic and http://tinybuddha.com/blog/mystical-moments-10-ways-feel-engaged-alive/

1. Play with a child. Play like a child.

Children are the ultimate Zen masters. They come out of the womb fully enlightened, completely living in the moment, taking every experience in without all the extra layers of thought and worry we pile on. Then, sadly, they become adults.
But you can get some of this back by dropping the rake, the bills, and the dishes in order to push toy cars, throw leaves, and make snow angels. Lose yourself in the moment. Act silly. Make a fool of yourself.
Mystics often are mistaken for idiots. No kids available? I can loan you three, or I’m sure you have a friend or neighbor who would oblige as well.

2. Laugh hard

Humor is a great way to shake off painful emotions and transcend the everyday.
After a tough day, my wife and I will hit the internet and watch a few Saturday Night Live skits or some of the Colbert Report just to loosen us up and remind our heads that life should not be taken too seriously. A family tickle fest never hurts either.

3. Attend a new spiritual service

Historically, church functioned as a weekly stopping point for people to reflect and connect. That’s great. But church can become a rut, especially if you go every week to hear the same book read by the same person who usually says the same stuff.
Try a new service. Unitarian. Wiccan. Buddhist. Catholic. I recently tried out a Quaker service. We sat in complete silence for an hour. At first, I was petrified. I wanted to run out screaming. But then I settled into this beautiful state of relaxed peace.

4. Read a mystical book by an enlightened person

There are so many great spiritual books out there that can help you step out of your frantic, everyday life and get you to look into to the soul. Eckhart Tolle is a current best-selling author with lots of good stuff. Fr. Anthony DeMello’s Awareness is wonderful and challenging. I love reading Allan Watts as a way to stretch my spiritual imagination.
Pick up a Zen book, like Zen Flesh, Zen Bonesand puzzle over some of the classic riddles (called Koans). Or grab a classic in mystical living by the likes of Brother Lawrence, Meister Eckhart, Rumi, or Lao Tzu.

5. Walk alone in the woods or by a river

No headphones. No talking. Walk slowly. You’re not working out your body; you’re working out your soul. Use a simple mantra or mindful phrase, like “In-Out, Deep-Slow, Calm-Ease, Smile-Release,” to stop your incessant thinking.
Spiritual master Krishnamurti once summarized the essence of all mystical practices in two words: “don’t think.” When you’re alone in nature, your ego falls away, leaving you with yourself.

6. Stargaze

Head to the country at night and lay out under the sky. Stargazing is a great way to remember the vastness of the universe. Inside us is that same vastness. We are made from atoms that were once part of the cosmos.
Being mystical is not about floating away on a cloud of euphoria. It’s about fully being in the perfect moment. The stars are there every night. Are we?

7. Listen to a great symphony or opera

A mystical experience can be any experience that forces you to slow down and activate new parts of your brain, triggering insight and expansive thinking. I love indie-rock, but after a long day of work, music without words gives space for my spinning brain to slow down.

8. Fast

Fasting has been used as a mystical practice for centuries by nearly every tradition out there, and that was back when food was hard to come by! It’s a great way to test your self-control, learn to deal with difficult feelings, let go of ingrained habits, and commune with those less fortunate in the world. And it’s free. (Of course, with eating disorders on the rise, please make sure this practice is right for you by consulting with your doctor.)

9. Volunteer

Get outside of your life, literally, and wrap yourselves up in someone else’s. I recommend spending time with the elderly, people who were alive before iPhones and Google (hard to believe). Consider not telling anybody what you’re doing; otherwise, volunteering just becomes another way to strengthen the ego.

10. Meditate

Meditation is the mystical practice used for millennia by countless great spiritual thinkers. It’s been proven by scientists to extend life and increase happiness. Isn’t it worth giving a try?
Stop your mind for a few moments. Look for the one inside you who knows you know. Count your breathing. Use one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s simple mindful meditations: “Breathing in, I smile; breathing out, I relax.”
By meditating, you change yourself and the world. You transform your soul with silence and transform the planet by creating a small, but powerful, pocket of peace.
If you really struggle with sitting still and calming your mind, use some light yoga. There are many great instructors out there who combine meditation techniques with yoga. Try ten or twenty minutes for a few days in a row. Notice the changes. You’ll be surprised.
A mystical moment is simply any moment when you are fully alive, in the present, embracing what is happening. Doing dishes can be a mystical experience! But if all else fails, there’s always sitting naked in a cave beating a drum.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Building Walls of Hope

I have learned that building walls of hope, the kind of walls that are meant to let people in and not keep them out, are just as dangerous as walls to keep people out. The only difference is that walls of hope come crashing down whereas walls of mistrust and defiance have to be chipped away at. So what do I do? How do I have hope and not have it come crashing down on me? How do I build something made of happiness and joy when everything falls down around me at the most inopportune time? I suppose there is no good time for bad things to happen.

I'm struggling with trying to find a balance between being prepared for not-so-good endings and thinking positive about the future. Where is the fine line? How do I find it? How do I keep myself near there? It seems balance is something that is a challenge for me, in all aspects of life. Seeing the big picture is good but the need to focus on the here and now is something that takes practice, focus and diligence. The big picture is just a reminder of where you are heading and it shouldn't exclude where you have been and how much you have accomplished or where you are at this moment in time.

I leave you (and me) with these words: Be present in every moment of every day. Keep the big picture in mind but don't lose focus on the here and now. Remember to keep balance in all areas of life.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Share the Love, not the Misery

"Negativity and misery loves company! I choose NOT to join any of you people! Having wonderful days and things are just as they should be! Spreading happiness and tranquility to everyone!"

A friend of mine posted this as a status update earlier this week. As I was shovelling snow that night before I went on online, I was thinking about how social media allows people to fall into the role of "victim" and makes it easy for their friends to feel sorry for them. I'm guilty of allowing it to do that to me. I have left my social media accounts often, usually for a couple of weeks. This time I just came back on the day before my friend posted those words of wisdom.

When I decided to leave my virtual world behind this time, I was in a mood and didn't want to have the temptation available to fall into the victim role again. I brooded alone for days, weeks, even months. I kept my pain and hurt to myself as much as I could, but it would leak out occasionally, usually surprising me while I was driving or sitting at my desk at work. Often I would have to dash to the washroom to collect myself where I would scold myself for crying. My meltdown finally came Friday after work. Friday the 13th. My favourite day! I was having a party that night even! I planned the party when I was feeling low, hoping that it would lift my spirits even if I didn't want to be around people. It's always good to be surrounded by and supported by your close friends, though.

I laid down after work to have a nap and it just wasn't working. The dog was pacing around, I was tossing and turning and then I started to cry, bawl even. It sounded horrid. When I have those kinds of days in the summer I wonder what my neighbours must think when they hear the wailing through an open window! I'm not sure why but when I am in that emotional state, talking with a friend and/or getting a hug from a friend just makes me bawl even more. I came to realize Friday that I still have some work to do on giving myself permission to grieve, to feel, to release emotions. It doesn't matter so much "why" I feel the need to cry. It matters that I accept that I feel that way, allow myself to feel the emotion and make time to feel it. Dismissing it or scolding myself is not very productive or emotionally healing.

Over the past few months I have experienced a lot of emotional losses. The death, if you will, of a lengthy physical relationship; the chaos of a long-distance friendship turned romance turned...well, into nothing at the moment; and now a new journey, with its own ups and downs, trying my best to be supportive to a friend who turns the communication on and off like a kid playing with a light switch!

It leads me to the same question time and time again: How can I be there for someone and help them pick up their pieces if I can't even pick up my own pieces sometimes? I've learned that I need a partner who is emotionally stronger than I am but not cold, unable to show empathy, insensitive or withdraws from emotion. I wonder if I will ever find that person. I've accepted that it's okay if I don't. I have many friends and family that care for me more than I can imagine! All I need to do is ask for help and they will be there, not to enable me in the role of victim, but to acknowledge my feelings and help bring me happiness and tranquility. They are my reasonable voice when all reason has left my mind. And for that I can't thank them enough! I love you, friends and family, even when I'm being stubborn and am in a broken hearted mess. In fact, that's probably when I love you the most but show you the least.