Many people think more is better; we live in a world of consumption that makes it easy to equate more stuff with a more successful and fulfilled life. Face it; the more money you make, the bigger your house, the amount of fancier stuff, cars, etc. you have, the more people assume your life is a success.
What the hell happened? Now that we have more stuff than our parents did, are we happier? Has the change to consumerism, introduced by Madison Avenue in the 50s, helped us become better people?
Well… actually, no. We might all benefit from a good purge, a throw out session of all that unnecessary stuff that has accumulated over the years; each one important at the time, but none adding to the quality of our lives. Didn’t Bob Marley say “none but ourselves can free our minds”?
Want to improve your life? Want to think and feel in a more balanced and healthy fashion?
Here are 10 “TOUGH LOVE” suggestions (Ten Steps to Improve Your Life) that will help you deal with some fundamental areas for facilitating self-improvement and experiencing uncluttered, “Real Success.” (I’m only being nice…just do it!)
1) HOW OFTEN DO YOU BATHE IN NEGATIVE THOUGHTS?
I know, you’re like everyone else and you get all wrapped up in negativity that brings only anguish into your life. Those persistent negative thoughts will bring you more unhappiness than you will ever imagine. Before you know it, you are a miserable, bitter, resentful, jealous monster and you won’t even remember how you got there. You can control your thoughts, so do it. If you can’t control them, get a coach. As your day goes on, practice forgiving and choosing to think and see things positively.
2) HOW LONG DO YOU SPEND BEHIND THE “BOOB-TUBE”?
Remember calling the TV the boob tube? Newsflash; your computer screen is often just the same. Binge watching is only the most recent of mindless addictions (why bother to talk…you can check out and watch some mindless junk on your laptop). And yes, YouTube, Xbox…they call count towards brain cell atrophy. If you pull yourself away from the screen long enough to count the hours you spend behind it, you might be appalled; and no, the “meaningful” relationships you develop on Facebook, and the hundreds of so-called “friends” don’t count as interaction at a personal level. How much more productive would you be if you cut the “boob-tube” time in half?
3) LESS CAN BE MORE
Now, I am not referring to conversations and telling you to shut-up…anyone who knows me knows that I always have something to say! But just for giggles, how about you take a page out of the introvert book and focus on what you say? Do the words you utter have any meaning? Are they from your heart? Or, like most folks, are you thrilled to pass on the most recent gossip? How about you just let it pass. Believe me, give it a try for the rest of the day and see how it feels.
4) SOCIAL MEDIA ISN’T REALLY SOCIAL
Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, Tumblr—the options to “interact” are everywhere! Do you check for notifications every five minutes? That many, huh? Do you have any idea the toll social media takes on your life? Why compare yourself against people you wouldn’t even let in your house. You never really see a full picture of what is being painted and you decide that you don’t measure up.
Why feel unhappy and dissatisfied with a life, your life, that would thrill half your friends? Cut that it out—simplify—so that you can have a sane moment or two where you don’t feel the compulsion (yes, I said compulsion) to check on this or that notification. The feeling of being part of something is completely false, and it is at your own expense. Try for the next hour to not check any social media and see how much of a compulsion it’s become in your life.
5) THROW OUT WHAT YOU DON’T USE
Jeez… if you haven’t used it in over a year, or you don’t even remember buying it, why is it in the drawer, on the shelf or counter? The sheer amount of junk in our lives can have a damaging effect. If you’ve been distracted by all that crap, then you know what I mean. Pitch at least some of it out; give it to charity. Having all those possessions taking over your life, is a sign that you are focused on a twisted way to be happy…or are you simply a hoarder (one needs a coach, the other a therapist)?
How many stereos do you need? And how about that weird thing you had to have, that you were going to refinish, that is still sitting there taking up space, both in your garage, and your mind? Having less allows you to appreciate the quality of the things that remain. Go through your stuff and if you haven’t used it in over a year, give it away and see how that feels.
6) DEBT IS NOT YOUR FRIEND
Do you have money or does money have you? That question can cause all sorts of problems. Your relationship with money (rich or poor) defines how you end up. If you are in debt, (there are shelves full of money management books in the bookstore on that subject) take some steps to change your habits. Whatever works for you, albeit a monthly payment plan, a financial advisor, anything to get yourself out of all that consumer-driven debt. Financial freedom is really the first step to any real freedom. Take any step as a first step and see how it feels.
7) STOP COMPLAINING AND EAT RIGHT
Most people pay more attention to what they put on their bodies than what they put in them. Be aware of what you put in your mouth. If you don’t make a real effort to cut out the bad stuff, you won’t be around long enough to enjoy any life at all. You should see where some of that crap is made. Cutting down on starch, sugar, trans fats, etc. will help you feel better and give you more energy to boot. Find some where to streamline your diet and take a welcome turn to a better, and longer, healthier life.
8) STOP DYING ON EVERY HILL
Hey, we all want to be better people to improve our world and ourselves. But having too many goals just keeps you from reaching any of them. Ever had those days where you had so much to do that none of it got finished? How did that feel? You need to focus to get something done, and too many goals dilute your focus. One or two good goals, YES! Having 10 just means that you won’t focus on any, in order to succeed. Do the first one; accomplish it then the second one; accomplish it, and on it goes. You will soon notice that you are more successful, getting more done, and just like magic, you will start to feel better. Give it a try on the next subject that comes up for you and start making your life easier!
9) MULTI-TASKING IS MULTI-FAILING
Guys, it’s just the same here; multi-tasking is a subset of too many goals. You take on so darn much that you jump from task to task, and suddenly you’re stressed and anxious. And for what? You knew you were taking on too much. By just being busy and chasing goals without reaching them, you sacrifice the joys of the present moment, and what is really important. Oh and if you aren’t aware of the present moment, you won’t be happy. There you go again, doing too much at the expense of your mental and physical health. If you just do what this old guy said and successfully complete one thing at a time, you can enjoy the moments in between and you might even enjoy your tasks more. Simplify, simplify, simplify, it will change your life.
10) TIME REALLY ISN’T RUNNING OUT
You set your own schedule, right? Do you find yourself holding on to this concept of time, which it’s always running out? Your days, weeks, or years seem to pass too quickly? We all manage our lives around the commitments we make, and set times for this or that to be finished. You made the schedule, you can change it if need be. Some things simply must be completed by a certain time, most things not so much. Let it go. Free your mind from that self-imposed pressure of a schedule you can change. So, on your next project, set your pace for you and live up to it. You will be happier.
IF YOU FIND YOUR WAYS TO STREAMLINE LIFE, IT WILL MAKE A STARTLING DIFFERENCE IN YOUR OUTLOOK, YOUR HEALTH, AND, YOUR LIFE. STREAMLINING MEANS GAINING MORE TIME AND MORE SPACE TO LIVE IN THE PRESENT, ENJOY YOUR LIFE, YOUR FAMILY, AND THE PEACE YOU CREATE.
Frank Hopkins is a certified Professional Coach (CPC) and certified by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). He is a certified Master Practitioner (ELI-MP) of the iPEC proprietary assessment tool, the Energy Leadership Index and offers seminars on Energy Leadership. He maintains memberships in the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and the Institute of Coaching (ICPA).