3 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be

3 Ways You're Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be

The greatest step toward a life of simplicity is to learn to let go.

Imagine you had a ripe, juicy apple sitting on an otherwise empty table in front of you.  You pick it up eagerly, take a nibble, and begin to taste it.

You already know how an apple should taste, and so when this one is a bit more tart than you expected, you make a face, feel a sense of disappointment and swallow it, dissatisfied.

Or perhaps the apple tastes EXACTLY as you expected – nothing special at all.  So you swallow without even pausing to enjoy its flavor, and you move on with your day.

In the first scenario, the apple was disappointing because it didn’t meet your expectations.  In the second, it was too plain and unexciting because it met your expectations to a T.

Do you see the irony here?

It’s either not good, or not good enough.

Now imagine you try this: eliminate your expectations of how the apple ‘should’ taste.  You don’t know, and you don’t pretend to know, because you haven’t tried it yet.  Instead, you’re genuinely curious, impartial and open to a variety of flavors.

You taste it, and you truly pay attention.  You notice the juiciness, the grainy texture of the skin, the simultaneously sweet, tangy and tart flavors swirling around your tongue, and all the other complex sensations that arise in your awareness as you chew.  You didn’t know how it would taste, but now you realize it’s brilliant!  It’s brand new, because you’ve never tasted THIS apple before.

Mindfulness practitioners often refer to this as “beginner’s mind,” but really it’s just the outcome of a mindset free of needless expectations.

The apple, of course, can be substituted for anything in your life: any event, any task, any social interaction, any person, any meal, any thought at all that enters your mind, anytime and anyplace.  If you approach any of these with expectations of “how it should be,” they will surely disappoint you in some way… or be too plain and unexciting to remember.  And you’ll just move on to the next disappointment or unexciting experience, and the next, and the next, and so on and so forth, until you’ve lived your entire life stuck in an endless cycle of things you barely like or barely even notice.

But if you approach each event, task, social interaction, etc. without expectations – and just see that event, task, social interaction, etc. at face value – then you will truly see it.  You will truly appreciate it for what it is.  And you will truly experience it like you’ve never experienced anything before, because you haven’t.

This is The Art of Making Life Easier!

So now that we’ve cleared the air a little, let’s take a closer look at three of the most common ways people use expectations to make life harder than it has to be:

1.  You procrastinate to avoid your expectation of problems.

Let’s say you’ve been putting off a big project at work because you’re dreading [Read more…]

8 Things Emotionally Stable People Don’t Do

8 Things Emotionally Stable People Don’t Do

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions.  I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”
―Oscar Wilde

Last night I received an email (creatively) titled “Emotionally Stable People Don’t Do This” from a reader named Karl.  In it he describes a rather chaotic emotional roller coaster that he’s been on for the past few years, personally and professionally.  And then he wrapped up his email with this:

“Truly, I love your book and blog.  Both have helped me get through some seriously tough times.  But even though I’ve made progress, I often struggle with my emotions.  I persistently let every little problem get the best of me.  So I was wondering, what do emotionally stable people NOT do?  I’m asking because, even though I’ve made progress, I know I’m still holding on to old habits that are holding me back.  I need some reminders of what NOT to do!”

There are a million ways to answer Karl’s question (especially as it relates to his unique life situation), but since emotional stability is something all of us struggle with at times, I figured I’d take a stab at answering his question in a general sense, for all of us.  Here’s what emotionally stable people don’t do:

  1. They don’t take other people’s behavior personally. – It’s easy to feel unloved and unwanted when people aren’t able to communicate and connect with you in the way you expect.  And it’s so hard not to internalize that disconnection as a reflection on your worth.  But the truth is, the way other people behave and function is not about you.  Most people are so caught up in their own problems, responsibilities and struggles, that the thought of asking you how you’re doing doesn’t even cross their mind.  They aren’t being mean or uncaring – they’re just busy and a bit self-centered at times.  And that’s OK.  It’s not evidence of some fundamental flaw on your part.  It doesn’t make you unlovable or unworthy.  It just means that some people aren’t very good at looking beyond their own egocentric bubble.  But the fact that you are – that despite the darkness you feel, you have the ability to share your love and light with others – is an incredible strength. [Read more…]

12 Easy Ways to Make Life Simple Again

12 Easy Ways to Make Life Simple Again

Life is not complicated.  We are complicated.  When we stop doing the wrong things and start doing the right things, life is simple.

Would you like to uncomplicate your life?  I bet you would!

Marc and I received well over 1,000 replies to our recent ‘subscribers only‘ email series on simplicity.  This inspired me to revisit the content, tailor it to some of the most popular replies and questions we received, and share this enhanced summary of our simplicity advice series with you here.

A simple life has a different meaning and a different value for every person.  For me, it means getting rid of some of life’s complexities so you can spend more time with people you love and do more of the things you love.  It means getting rid of the clutter, and eliminating all but the essential, so you are left with only that which gives you value.

For the cynics who might say that the list of ideas below is too long to be ‘simple,’ there are really only two steps to simplifying:

  1. Identify what’s most important to you.
  2. Eliminate as much as you possibly can of everything else.

Of course, that advice is not terribly useful unless you understand how to apply this concept to different areas of your life; so I present to you the points below as well.  And since there can be no ‘one size fits all,’ step-by-step guide to simplifying your life, I’ve compiled an incomplete list of ideas that should help you move in the right direction.  Not every tip will fit your lifestyle, so just choose a few that do and apply them accordingly. [Read more…]

7 Smart Ways to Stop Fearing Rejection

7 Smart Ways to Stop Fearing Rejection

When you’re feeling insecure, you typically don’t notice the hundreds of people around you who accept you just the way you are.  All you notice are the few who don’t.

In what way is the fear of rejection holding you back?  How would your life be different if you didn’t care whether everyone liked you and agreed with you, or not?

To answer these questions, we must understand that the vast majority of our fears and anxieties amount to one thing:  Loss.

We fear:

  • Losing our youth.
  • Losing our social status.
  • Losing our money.
  • Losing control.
  • Losing our comfort.
  • Losing our life.
  • Etc.

We also fear, perhaps more than anything else, being rejected by others.  This kind of fear is widespread and debilitating if left unaddressed.  Why is this fear so deeply entrenched in us?  In ancient tribal times, being rejected from the safety of the community could have meant death.  So it’s no wonder, really, that [Read more…]

10 Ways to Make the Rest of Today Amazing

10 Ways to Make the Rest of Today Amazing

The beginning is always now.

No matter what the history of your day has entailed thus far, the rest of your day depends on what you do right now.  Write it on your heart that the rest of today is going to be amazing.  Here are some ideas to help you make it so:

1.  Loosen your grip.

Trying to micromanage every little thing every moment is stressful.  Life should be touched, not strangled.    Sometimes you’ve got to relax and let life happen without incessant worry and micromanagement.

Starting now, let go before you squeeze too tight.  Take a deep breath.  When the dust settles and you can once again see the forest for the trees, take the next step forward.  You don’t have to know exactly where you’re going every single second to be headed somewhere great.  Everything in life is in perfect order whether you understand it yet or not.  It just takes some time to connect all the dots.

2.  Focus forward.

You can’t go back to how things were, or how you thought they were supposed to be.  All you really have is now.  The smartest thing you can control in life is your reaction to what’s beyond your control.  Dwelling on negativity from the past simply contributes to its power.  So stop focusing on what happened and start focusing on what’s going to move you forward. [Read more…]