What To Do When There’s Too Much To Do

The holiday season is stressful. Even those who don’t celebrate are forced to stand in those long checkout lines for a measly carton of milk. “I’m sorry ma’am, self checkout is closed!”

And although Amazon has made it easier than ever to avoid other human beings, there are plenty of other things to lose your mind over.

Like…cooking food, cleaning the house, wrapping gifts, going shopping.

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days and trying to come up with a stress free way to get things done when there’s just too much to do. Some ideas that came to mind were: cutting out what isn’t critical, creating to-do lists, focusing on one task at a time and not worrying about results.

But I mean, who really wants another list? We’ve seen enough of those. The real issue is that we haven’t gotten to the bottom of what causes stress in the first place. We don’t need more ways to manage it, we need to know how to shrink it.

And theres only one way to do that. Stop creating it.

That doesn’t mean we should quit shopping and log on to Netflix. It means that we should stop doing what is stressing us out. The internal stuff, not the external stuff.

Let me give you an example.

I stopped by Whole Foods for a bottle of tea and a chocolate bar. It’s down the street from where I work, so I figured I would be in and out. WRONG.

They only had a few cashiers and apparently everyone shops on their lunch break. My mind started racing – Why did I come here on my lunch hour? Why are there so many people? Where are all the damn cashiers? Why is this man buying so many green beans!? Who could possibly need that many green beans? 

Now that’s stressful. Not the people in line, not the cashiers, not the green beans. It was the thinking. It was my opinion about what was going on.

All that mental pinball pushed me over the edge. But what’s wonderful is that it’s optional, we don’t have to live that way. We can’t necessarily control our environment, but we can control the way we think about it.

One thing I noticed when I first started meditating was that I thought stressing out was normal, but my body felt off. I asked a teacher about it when I was on retreat and he said “What makes you think that’s normal? How does it feel?”. I knew what he was getting at.

Sometimes this is just the way things are. We overthink, we stress out and we beat ourselves up. But that doesn’t mean it’s the way things have to stay. Stress feels like were rubbing sandpaper on our insides. It’s bad news.

Pay attention to how you’re feeling. Your body is a great teacher. And if you really want to get to know it well, try meditating. Like everyday, for the rest of your life. It’ll build up your awareness and your willingness to notice what’s here.

No drugs or alcohol or any of those other fancy concoctions are necessary. If you can learn to be at peace with whatever is here, right now, it’ll change your entire life.

I’ll bet 10 bucks on it.

Going Nowhere Fast

It’s time I face the facts. Creating things of value takes time. And while I know this, it hasn’t persuaded me to stay patient.

I’ve been writing for how long? I’ve been coming up with business ideas for how long? I’ve been coming up with “fixes” for how long? In the grand scheme of things, not long at all. Good luck telling that to the little voice in my head.

Nothing happens quick enough for us. We’re in a rush for no reason. Life isn’t about being 200% more productive in 50% of the time, but if you want to keep life hacking your life to death, be my guest. I can’t do it anymore.

It’s the textbook definition of going nowhere fast. What happens when we get to the end of the road and none of it lives up to our expectations? Then we’re screwed. It’s not worth it.

Life’s a blur when we race to the finish line. Happiness doesn’t happen in a hurry. Achieving anything worth while takes a bit of momentum, which is a good thing because we don’t know how to appreciate the stuff that pops off overnight.

A few years ago, me and my girlfriend went to Las Vegas and I won $646 on a penny slot machine. It was easy to make and even easier to spend. Half of it was gone before the end of the night. If that was hard earned cash rather than a stroke of luck, do you think I would have blown it on $15 hot dogs and $30 drinks. I couldn’t have cared less because I didn’t have to put in any work to earn it.

Is that how you want to treat your dreams? The things you’ve always hoped and wished for? Probably not. Trying to make things happen quicker usually just screws it all up.

Do the work and let things unfold naturally. Watching flowers bloom is the best part of spring. Let your life bloom and water it as needed.

Pay attention to where you’re placing your focus. Don’t lose track of the why behind what you’re doing.

Just keep doing you. Don’t get caught up with the ideas of mountain tops. Enjoy the view from where you’re at, where you came from and where you’re going.

My dream is that I’ll finally realize that everything I’ve ever wanted was just a disguise for what’s already here waiting for me.

I dream the same for you.

When I slow down everything comes true.

Please Don’t Forget About Us

Sometimes I hold my dog and he reminds me that relationships don’t last forever. Eventually one of us will have to go.

It feels like somehow he knows this better than I do. It’s hard to put into words.

I’ll be writing with my stomach and mind in knots because I can’t seem to get words to come out, and he’ll tap me on the forearm.

I’ll look over and he’s standing on his hind legs, with eyes made of glass saying Hey I’m still here, do you have a moment to spare?

We get pretty wrapped up with all the stuff that we do, to the point that we forget everything else that exists. Especially each other.

I don’t want to lose my connection to the world just because I’m busy. Most of the stuff I do probably isn’t even that important. I’d rather be here with my dogs, my girlfriend, my family and all of you than be doing some fruitless busy work.

If I can’t do that, I think I’d prefer to do nothing at all.

You know I keep trying to write these posts that are interesting. That’s the thing I’m always getting caught up in. How am I going to reach the world? How am I going to get people to read these words? How the heck am I going to turn this into a career?

When I write with those questions in mind, it doesn’t feel genuine. It’s just too calculated.

Good thing I usually end up throwing in the towel and writing something like you’re reading now. Because clearly, it’s more me.

We’re hopeless when we’re not ourselves. And being ourselves doesn’t involve conscious thought. It involves letting go of the ideas around who we think we are or who we think we should be and learning to live and be as we are. Something tells me that that’s more important than anything else.

What To Do When Everything’s Screwed Up

The other day someone told me that we like treating each other like shit. We like fighting. We like arguments.

But I don’t think anyone is enjoying this. As a matter of fact, I know no one is enjoying this. I don’t care what anyone says.

Yes, everything is screwed up. But have you noticed that the fighting isn’t fixing anything and the more we try to “fix”, the more screwed up things seem to get?

How about we just stop trying to fix everything. Logically it sounds crazy, but logic left the building back in 2006 when Twitter was invented.

We need to try something that’s unconventional. We need to try something that involves a little less trying, oddly enough.

I used to think I was pretty screwed up. Hell, I still do. But you know what, it’s not that big of a deal anymore.

You know why? Because I cut back on trying to constantly fix myself. I just started sitting quietly on this little round cushion twice a day and something interesting started to happen.

I learned how to shut up.

I learned that some things just aren’t going to be fixed. At least not the way I think they should be.

My life has gotten an eency, weency, tiny, tiny, bit easier. And remember, little things make a big difference. 

Even the crappy parts don’t seem that bad. But remember, this is only when I shut up! As soon as that old broken record of a mind starts back spinning and I buy into it, the music stops sounding sweet.

Doing nothing actually brings about better results than doing something. Then after I’ve done nothing for a while, I can finally do something worth while.

Confusing right? Yea, life’s like that. We’re only human and let’s be honest, we have no idea what we’re doing. If you think you know, you should probably see a doctor or sell your secrets online.

But I won’t be buying.

I think it’s time we take a break. I think it’s time we start doing less. The way we think things should be doesn’t exist, it’s fantasy.

I promise that if you learn how to sit down and shut up, the way you view your life will change. If you learn how to sit down and shut up, things will start to make more sense, even when they don’t make any sense at all.

A peaceful universe is made up of a bunch of peaceful people. That doesn’t mean we walk around like a bunch of hippies, it’s 2016 for God’s sake! It means that we find peace with ourselves so that no matter what is happening in our lives or in the world, we’re able to approach it with love.

Because when we suffer, what we need most is love. And love is shy, it only shows up in silence.

That’s why we’ve got to shut up, starting now.

How Hard Work Once Saved The World

It was the summer of 1858 in London.

The stench of human waste filled the humid air and outbreaks of contagious disease ran rampant.

People feared the effect of not only the smell, but the possibility that the sheer filth that floated in the Thames River might contaminate their drinking water.

Local press coined the event as “The Great Stink”.

Something had to be done and Sir Joseph William Bazalgette had an idea. He thought up a sewer system that could carry and dump waste beyond the outskirts of the city’s population.

Okay maybe he didn’t save the world, but he sure as hell saved a lot of lives in London. And these types of advancements were happening around the globe.

I doubt many of us would be here if civilizations continued to drink turd martinis and industrial waste cocktails.

The hard work of the people that bring ideas like the one Joseph Bazalgette had, to life, are the reason we keep on living.

I thought about hard work a lot this past weekend as I laid on the cold unforgiving concrete under my 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

A cold Saturday spent rolling in rust and grease.

Dirty work gets a bad name. Far worse than it deserves.

I remember my high school auto teacher saying, “You don’t want to be a mechanic all of your life”. He was wrong.

I do want to be a mechanic all my life. Because hard work is undervalued.

When my tanks on E after a long day, I have no energy left for incessant thinking. The kind of thinking that drains my spirit. It feels good, in a weird way.

I finish work with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Not the pat yourself on the back type of accomplishment.

The type of accomplishment that’s humbling. The accomplishment that comes with a side of cuts, bumps, and bruises that each remind us that we’re human.

We want everything to be easy. We think we shouldn’t have problems. We wish hard work didn’t exist.

It’s not our fault though. We can probably blame it on the industrial revolution.

The hard stuff is exactly what gives us life. Our challenges and struggles are what we’re made of.

It’s a pain in the ass to push through the soil, but it’s the only way to bloom.

When we’re too comfortable we fall asleep on life. Then by the time we wake up, the movies over.

Hard work saves the world. It saves us.

This is your chance to be a superhero. Someone’s gotta do it.