Tag Archives: self-image

Control Your Christmas Chaos

This is a tough time of the year to pursue a simpler lifestyle.  We are inundated at every turn with commercialism and its subtle guilt tripping (if we don’t buy Grammie the most expensive widget we don’t love her).  Whether you celebrate Christmas as I do, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or something else, don’t fall into this trap.  Simplify instead with these “don’t” tips.

Don’t over-extend your commitments.  Instead spend some time considering what you are reasonably capable of doing, establish some self-imposed limits, and honor them.

Don’t give in to overeating.  Instead practice portion control, treat yourself to a few goodies instead of a whole platter, and don’t forget to exercise, even if it’s just going for a daily walk.

Don’t put on a brave face for others.  If you have a hard time finding joy during the holidays, embrace what you are feeling but don’t dwell on your hard emotions to the point where they disable you.  Instead seek out like-minded people at Blue Christmas services or support groups.

Don’t overspend. Create a list and a budget and stay within it.  Those who love you will appreciate being remembered by you, regardless of how much you spend on them.

And finally, don’t forget to be good to yourself in all things and at all times.

Make America Kind Again

There is a photo I recently reposted on Facebook.  It shows two little girls walking down a lane, one with her arm over the other’s shoulder. Superimposed on this black and white photo is “Make America Kind Again”.  You know, I’ve been thinking about that.

Regrettably on more than one occasion I have posted something snarky, typically regarding politics.  Local and national, I’ve snarked them all.  But with the extraordinary vitriol coming out of the Presidential race and many “down ballot” races, the level of nastiness has reached new heights…or lows, depending on your perspective.  And it’s not just politics, it’s also racism and immigration, poor versus wealthy, us versus them, and a plethora of other issues.  The common denominator is plain old meanness.

The people who are supposed to be leaders are not leading, they often are exacerbating the problem. Here’s the thing: for every one of the meanies out there, there are thousands of us who aren’t mean, or who don’t want to be but got swept up in the hysteria.  So, here is my radical idea:

Be kind.

Seriously, be kind.  I challenge everyone who reads this to do at least one kind act per day.  Do it in secret or post it online, but be kind at least once per day.  Buy a stranger a cup of coffee.  Tip a waitperson double.  Volunteer somewhere.  You see where I’m going with this, use your imagination.  If we all begin to act in kindness, maybe we can counter the meanness out there.

It’s worth a try, isn’t it?

Love is greater than hate.

Love is greater than hate.

The Best You Can Do

Sometimes, the best you can do, is the best you can do, and that’s generally good.  But sometimes the best you can do still isn’t going to be enough.  So what then?

Sometimes, you have to abandon what you were doing and try a different approach.

Sometimes, you have to go back to the beginning and start over with a clean slate.

Sometimes, you just have to be stubborn and stick it out until you come through on the other side.

Sometimes, despite all else, the best you can do, is the best you can do.  If you are doing the best you can do, then you owe nobody an apology.


It’s a Choice Not a Burden

I have grown weary of the modern consumer oriented culture.  Rampant and unrestrained  consumerism and materialism finally got to me.  No matter how much stuff I acquired my happiness didn’t increase accordingly as all the advertising promised. So eventually I decided to pursue a simpler life.  (And for the record, I find this is an ongoing process.)

I called this process decrappification, in which I co-opted a term that refers to deleting all the useless pre-loaded software on new computers.  I wanted to delete all the useless accoutrements in my life.  This included emotional and spiritual burdens as well as material possessions.

What I kind of jokingly called decrappification others have termed voluntary simplicity.  Voluntary simplicity is nothing more or less than a different way of looking at the things in which we invest ourselves.  Purposely choosing voluntary simplicity does not have to be a burden if you embrace the process.  Instead of trying to go from “start” to “end” without stopping in the middle, just ease into it as your comfort level allows.

Start by limiting unnecessary purchases. Wait 48 hours before making a purchase.  If you still find you need that item, yeah, it’s probably necessary on some level.  Otherwise, it’s probably not and you can get along just fine without it.

Think long and hard about how you are spending your down time.  Start doing more things that make you happy.  Drop the habits and activities that don’t make unhappy.  Express gratitude to  your family and friends and the people whom you love. Make an effort to be a sincere part of their lives.

Voluntary simplicity is not a burden if you choose so.  To the contrary, choosing to live more simply will give you freedom from burdens, increase the hours of your high quality time, put a few more unspoken for dollars in your pocket, and generally increase the quality of your life.

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Self-Limiting Practices

Decrappification, decluttering, simplifying, or whatever you may choose to call the process is largely a matter of setting limits for yourself, and sticking to them.  Setting limits is easy enough.  Living with them is far less so.  I’ll be honest-there are days when I fail miserably at sticking to my own self-imposed limits.

The thing is, I don’t wallow in self-recrimination.  The next day is a chance for a new start and I do my darnedest to take advantage.  Every sunrise is the herald for an opportunity for a do-over.

One of my self-imposed limits is that every Sunday I take what I call a digital Sabbath or digital fast.  I don’t surf the internet, check out Facebook, update my Twitter feed, or read and send e-mail.  (The only exception is that I upload my pastor’s sermon to our church web site for those who can’t attend the service.)

Taking a day off from the digital world wasn’t easy at first but as I’ve developed the habit over the past year it has become almost effortless.  And not to put too fine a point on it, but even though it’s a self-imposed limit, a day off from the internet and so forth is quite restful and refreshing.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.