We are a generation of to do lists, multi-tasking, smart phones, and appointment calendars. We’re convince that the MORE we DO, the happier we’ll be. We think, “If we want happiness, we have to do do do and get get get…”
We proudly wave our “git ‘er done” mentality and vow to do just that. And, of course we want our lunch to go – after all there are places to go, people to see, and plenty of ‘er to get done.
I won’t even lecture (well, not today anyway) about what this does to our health, psyche, and relationships. You get a free pass, I’ll go all mother hen on you about your well-being another day.
What we fail to realize, however, amongst all of our busyness, is that we can have an admirable “To Do” list, but if we keep doing certain negative, destructive things – we’re just shooting ourselves in our ever moving feet.
Think of these 10 self-destructive thoughts or actions as your To Don’t list.
- Don’t put things off. If you’ve been wanting to build a tree house… go buy your lumber today! If you’ve always wanted an herb garden Martha Stewart would be impressed with, start planning it right now. If the thought of something makes you smile, imagine how much you’ll smile when it’s out of your brain and in your reality.
- Don’t let others determine how you feel about yourself. Never look to other people to see your own reflection – you’ll never get the same one twice. Taking a good, hard look at yourself is the first step in the self improvement journey. But YOU are the one that has to take inventory. Don’t let others build you up too high, but certainly don’t allow them to tear you down. When someone else determines your highs and lows, don’t they pretty much have control over you?
- Don’t allow toxic thoughts to rent space in your mind. Here’s the dangerous thing about thoughts – they don’t remain thoughts. They become actions, they become attitudes, and they become words. Actions and words CANNOT be undone. They can be apologized for, agonized for, and can serve as huge weights on your conscience – but they can never be erased. If you entertain negative thoughts about an individual and keep feeding these thoughts with MORE negativity and hatred, it will come out – make no mistake about it. Think of negative thoughts as toxic waste. NOW, how long do you want them sticking around?
- Never “bad mouth” your loved ones to others. I once read a woman’s quote that said something to the effect of how thankful she was that her name was always safe in her sweetheart’s mouth. I thought that was beautiful. She knew that if he ever spoke of her to his friends and/or family, it would be with kindness and love. When we speak of our loved ones, should they not be able to say the EXACT same thing? Are your loved one’s names safe in your mouth? Don’t run people down – especially those you love. Build them up… brag on them! People will make judgments about your loved ones by your own words – they’ll also judge just how much you love and pride you have for them from these same words.
- Don’t make excuses. If you mess up, and come on, who doesn’t – own up to it. Don’t try to laugh it off if it isn’t funny, don’t try to re-size it (up-size or downsize), and most of all, don’t try to put the blame on someone else. Finger pointing is a big pet peeve of mine. Don’t. Do. It. It’s ugly.
- Don’t underestimate karma. Seriously, never ever fail to give karma her due – you’ll be sorry. I’ve been telling my daughters about her (and her keen memory and even keener sense of justice) as long as I’ve been telling them to say please and thank you. Karma can be a rewarding, kind, beautiful seeker of justice, but she can also seem like a cruel, vindictive something or another. Either way, she has an impossibly long memory. You can’t outrun her, you can’t hide from her. The only thing you can hope to do is to stay on her good side. You know the old adage that says the mother is the “heart” of the home, and that if she’s happy, everyone’s happy – but if she’s miserable, everyone’s miserable? Meet Karma… the heart of life’s home. When you make a point of doing the right thing (whether anyone’s watching or not), Karma keeps score and your world will be more harmonious. But when you dodge what’s right in favor of what’s wrong, you’re instantly on her ‘ish list. And make no mistake about it, she’ll get to you.
- Stop doing what you hate. If you’re working in a job that makes you miserable, find another one. Life’s too short to spend it being miserable.
- Stop thinking so much about money. That’s another thing that sort of defines our generation. We never seem to think we have enough money. Think about it this way – if we had more, we’d just spend more. When my husband and I were first married, we didn’t have a heckuva lot of money. When our beautiful daughters started arriving, we had even less. More love, more happiness, more laughter – but most definitely less money. Today, we’ve been blessed to have enough money, but guess what? We still spend it. We simply pay a little more for what we wear, where we live, what we eat, and what we drive. We were as warm, as comfortable, as full, and as mobile then as we are now. I’ll let you in on a little secret too, we were just as happy then as we are now. We’re the same people now as we were then. We laugh out loud at Andy Griffith reruns, get far too wrapped up in UK Basketball and St. Louis Cardinals baseball, spoil our daughters and cats, and so on. Money buys stuff but it doesn’t buy happiness, it doesn’t buy relationships, and it doesn’t buy memories. If you’re sacrificing any of the three in its pursuit, you’ll be more than sorry in the end – you’ll be devastated.
- Don’t nitpick other people! Sorry for the exclamation mark – I just felt compelled to yell this one out loud. How this guy wears his hair, how that woman dresses, what this person eats, how that person talks – none of your concern. Not your problem. In the new testament, at the point where Jesus has risen and is addressing his apostles, one of them sees fit to ask Him about another apostle. Jesus’ response was, “What is that to you?” A very loving and long-suffering way of saying, “Now remind me how that’s any of your business sir….” We get SO off track by looking at what others are or are not doing. They are responsible for their own lives – how they dress, where they work, how they live… Unless it is directly… directly, now… affecting you or one of your loved ones, let it go. Why bother finding MORE things to worry about or be unsettled by? Wouldn’t life be better if one looked for things to be happy about? Also, keep this in mind – if you overly criticize people, they will eventually stop trying to please you. They’ll figure, “I can’t do anything right with this so and so… so…. I quit even trying.” If you kill someone’s creativity and confidence, how does that benefit you OR them?
- Finally, stop doing what isn’t working. If you’ve been working toward a particular goal and don’t seem to be gaining on it whatsoever, it’s time for Plan B because Plan A is belly up. You can either keep wasting time and hope it suddenly flips over and miraculously starts working, or you can abandon what doesn’t work and find something that does.
BONUS: This one is my absolute favorite one… so I set her aside from the rest. A chosen, favored one to be sure. Once years ago, I read a quote that – if there were such a thing – would be my ‘Spirit Animal Quote.’ It said, “All I’m after is a world filled with laughter.” I’m all about laughter and had MUCH rather be accused of finding too many things funny than of finding too few things funny.
Yes, I’m one of those who laugh out loud at commercials with talking animals, and can be found doubled over with tears in her eyes while watching funny cat videos online.
I love to laugh and the sound of other people laughing is music to my ears. Never fail to look for the humor in situations.
Here’s an example that happened to my family recently. I was sitting beside my daughter Brittany in a “surgery waiting room.” She was waiting to be taken back for kidney stone surgery. She was in quite a bit of pain and was almost as worried and anxious as me. Almost. There, surrounded by about 10 other people who were awaiting surgeries, we found ourselves in a totally somber setting.
Then she pointed out something to me and we both had to laugh – a “biker” came strolling through, slowly, and took a seat. On the back of his leather jacket were the words GRIM REAPER. Brittany said, “Oh, great. What’s he doing here?” I told her, “I thought he’d be taller.”
I don’t know, there was just something about the moment that made us laugh. She even reached for her camera phone to take a picture but the Grim Reaper sat down and his chair hid his identity.
We both decided that, yet again, we had proof of one thing – God has a terrific sense of humor.
Just because we aren’t kids anymore doesn’t mean we have to stop looking for the fun in life. It’s there. You’ll find it if you look. Try to find the humor in as many situations as possible.
Laughing beats grumbling any day.
Sometimes we have to STOP doing things in order to START doing things. The negatives just weigh the positives down, so ditch them on the now.
Now, I’m off to plan my epic herb garden,
A few days ago, my male cats (Bo and Svenn) were helping my in the yard. The disastrous ice storm here in Kentucky did a real number on trees, and since we have a virtual forest in our yard, we had limbs and branches down like you wouldn’t believe. It honestly looked as though a tornado had torn through.
My husband was out of town and I thought he’d be glad to see a lot of the work done when he came back. My boys followed me every step of the way. They were delighted with the entertainment and I loved the company.
They watched as I dragged most of the heavy limbs and carried the ones that could be carried. Some were so heavy they had to stay right where they were. The rabbits under one of them appreciated it greatly. My brave, tough boys just peeked through the branches at the rabbits and turned away. Fortunately for the rabbits (and for me who would have tried to stop it), my only cat who would have given chase and sent fur flying is now a house cat.
Her brothers are big softies.
It wasn’t long before I realized that, although the large limbs had to be dragged a great distance and taxed what few muscles I own, the small branches were much more of a headache. They required frequent bending over as I gathered them up and it seemed as though I never gained on them. They were great nuisances, in spite of their innocent appearance.
Bend over… straighten up… squat down… straighten up.. I found myself preferring the big ones because they required one big tug and that was that.
It occurs to me that many of our habits are like these sticks. Many of the negative traits or habits that hold us back are usually the small ones. These “stick habits” add up and can cause some serious damage in our lives.
What are some stick habits or traits?
- Being judgmental
- Being too hard to please
- Being sloppy
It seems to me that when we have large habits, we often find a way to “muscle up” and control them. We KNOW they’re there, they’re too big to miss! Some of these include smoking, overeating, not controlling your weight, spending too much money (shhhh), lying, etc. These big bama jammas are so in your face that we couldn’t ignore them for long if we tried. All the while we’re looking at these larger ones, the smaller habits just keep lying there, causing a perfect mess.
That’s how it was when I was cleaning the front yard. I hauled limb after limb after limb – then on one of my last trips back to the front of the house, I noticed that there were only a couple of large limbs left. My mind started to celebrate by mapping out the rest of the afternoon’s schedule – warm shower, chili for lunch, a pot of coffee, an Andy Griffith episode, perhaps a second warm shower (what can I say, I was freezing). Then when I pulled away a few of the big limbs, I noticed what had to be a gazillion sticks and branches. Andy and Barney were going to have to wait.
Our “Stick Habits” Keep Us.
- They keep our relationships from being as close as they could be.
- They keep us from moving up the ladder at work.
- They keep us from having the things we want.
- They keep us from making the world a better place.
- They keep us from being as happy as we could be.
- They keep peace and contentment at arm’s reach.
Take a good close look at your negative habits. Not the big ones (at least not this time), lean in close and observe the small ones.
Once the stick habits are there in plain view, pick them up and throw them out of your life. Naturally, breaking a bad habit isn’t as easy as picking up a stick lying on the ground in front of you. Especially if it’s a habit that’s been “in place” for years.
These are the toughest to get rid of because it feels like they’ve “taken root!”
The trick is to… wow, can’t believe I”m having to say this… stick with it. If you were to carry a stick to a pile, you’d need to keep your fingers wrapped around it the entire time, right? If not, it’d fall to the ground. When you’re dealing with a bad habit, you have to keep your fingers wrapped around its neck the whole time. If not, it’ll take YOU to the ground.
Keep telling yourself that you’re bigger, smarter, and infinitely more powerful than this “little” habit. Realize that you, after all, created it – not the other way around. What’s more, if you created it, you can destroy it.
Just remember to keep your fingers on the stick. Don’t let go. They say it takes 3 weeks (or 21 days) to BREAK a habit or to “cement” a new habit. Keep your eye on the calendar, even if its the one in your mind. There’s an end to the road, just like there’s an end to yard work (*Insert sigh of relief right here) – the trick is just to keep going.
A few tips that I’ve found very useful when breaking bad little habits:
- Develop a good new habit in its place. Example: If you have a bad habit of going through drive thrus for fries (but they’re soooo goood), start getting a big iced tea or coffee instead.
- Outsmart yourself. Example: If you bite your nails, start meticulously manicuring them. If you wear nail polish, polish them with the prettiest color imaginable – you’ll find yourself less willing to mess up your work of art.
- Regroup. Example: Bad temper? Make a new habit of taking a deep breath, collecting your thoughts and regrouping. Calmness is a beautiful thing and I”m pretty sure you’ll fall in love with the feeling.
Mark my words, it will make a huge and profound difference in every area of your life when you break even the smallest bad habit. Cast them away so far that you can’t even see them any more, then do everything in your power to make sure that nothing carries them back into your life. It won’t be long before people around you notice the difference as much as you do.
A lot of hings that were so wrong will suddenly be so right.