Mental clutter: Useless thoughts

There are many areas in ones life that one can use some minimizing, but the one that is often overlooked is our thoughts. It’s too bad to, because this it the one most closely linked to happiness. Well actually, there are two types of “mental clutter”: Useless knowledge (I often refer to as “empty calorie entertainment” for the mind), and useless thoughts and emotions. For this post I am discussing useless thoughts and emotions; I have discussed useless knowledge in previous posts.

Useless thoughts/emotions are ones that keep us from being happy, keep us from being motivated, keep us from seeing life how we want to see it. They also keep us from appreciating what we have. These useless thoughts and emotions are:

  • Judgment – Judgement of others to be specific. Judgement of others only becomes important if it directly effects our lives. In deciding how close we want to keep certain people, and how far to trust them; but it’s not very often that we have to make these judgments. The majority of judgments people make, is just fuel for gossip. I.E. useless and unproductive. Not only that, but more often times than not, we don’t have enough info to make a sound judgment. In fact, unless we live with someone and have known them for many years, we can’t make an informed judgment of them. It is far more productive for us to judge ourselves, as this can be motivation for growth. I once heard a phrase that applies here: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Eleanor Roosevelt. This applies to our thoughts just the same as our conversation.
  • Jealousy – Again ….. why are we thinking of people in unproductive ways? The same logic for judgment applies here. It is healthy to want what others may have, as we can use them as a guide to acquire these things. That is more of a mentor/protege relationship; a productive positive “looking up to” situation. Jealousy instead, carries resentment.
  • Anxiety over things we can’t control – These may be the most difficult set of thoughts and emotions to shake off. Especially when we have invested so much time into whatever is failing us. But the truth is, dwelling on it and losing sleep is just gonna add to the problem. We have to let that which we cannot control, go. Leave it in God’s hands.
  • Dwelling in the past – For starters, regret is a wasted emotion. What happened, happened, and we can not change that. Second, frequent contemplation about a time when “things were better” anchors us from moving ahead in our lives. We are different people than we were back then; at least if we are living life properly we are.
  • Hate (Not anger) – Hate is stress and baggage. Self destructive. Anger on the other hand can be motivation for change, for positive action. It’s just important that we manage our anger, direct it, control it, so that it doesn’t become hate.
  • Ego – All this does is put a wall between us and everyone around us. By doing this we won’t listen as attentively, we won’t be as open minded, and therefore ultimately we won’t grow as people. When we put ourselves on a pedestal we can’t hear what is going on down below, so we’ll miss out.

Lets make a conscience effort to purge ourselves of the above thoughts and emotions. They cause us to lose focus. I personally guarantee that we will be more happy, overnight.

Never Stop Chasing Her

This post goes out to all the married gentlemen out there with long relationships. The advice still may apply to women as well, and even LBGTQ folk, but I can only speak for strait men.

For many of us, we get into a rut in life where the romance is dead and our wife no longer seems interested in us anymore. This doesn’t happen all of a sudden of course, but slowly over the long course of our relationship as life changes and we take on new roles, new responsibilities. When this happens, we are so quick to blame the uninterested party, ….. our wives. We say “She doesn’t care anymore. She’s not the same woman I married. And when I initiate any affection or romance, I am tossed aside, rejected, and it makes me feel like I am in the wrong for desiring her.”

Let me start by saying that there is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring your spouse. There is nothing wrong with wanting romance in your relationship. Romance is the way it’s supposed to be. Intimacy, affection, humor, and playfulness are necessary components in all marriages.

She may not be exactly the same person we married, but are we the same person she married? Really? Are we still the dashingly handsome man she fell in love with all those years ago? The man who would do those little extras to win her affection? The confident man who would make the assertive gestures to win her over, and not care about the repercussions if they were rejections, because we were confident in our worth?

OR, have we let ourselves go? Have we relaxed a bit as we have aged, secure in the belief that “I’m married now, so this relationship is on lock. Relationship maintenance is no longer required.”?

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that it is OUR fault. Every situation is unique, and there are nuances and subtleties in every situation that make the responsibility for the “death of romance” to fall more on one party than the other. But I DO know one thing:

It’s of little importance WHO is responsible for causing it. Both parties are responsible for remedying it. And it MUST BE REMEDIED.

(Just because we did not cause a problem, doesn’t mean we are not responsible for solving the problem)

So rather than focusing on our wives, and trying to figure out how we can change them, so that they may be “interested in us” again, lets focus on ourselves to determine how we can start making ourselves interesting again. In the end, we can’t change others anyway, we can only change ourselves.

Instead of being so easily discouraged, have the confidence again (and dare I say it ….. arrogance) to brush off rejections (don’t take them so close to heart) and keep trying.

The key to keeping the romance alive in our marriage is to never stop dating. Never stop doing the things we needed to do when we were younger to win her over. Never stop chasing her. She wants to be chased. We thought that when we got married, the game was over. Sorry bucko, the game never ended. We’ve just been failing it since your vows.

DO THIS, and she will come around. She will do her part in keeping the romance alive instinctually, automatically. And if she doesn’t ……. Then the problem is even bigger than the romance dying in our relationships.

Good and Bad

Yin Yang

As a species, humans love to simplify ideas and concepts. We love to throw ideas into small and few compartmentalized categories to make our lives easier. Ironic that we instinctively prefer our lives complex (with clutter and too much fluff), but we prefer our ideas and concepts to be simplified.

Think about it. We love to throw everything into only two main categories.

  • Our political standings are: Democrat or Republican
  • Changes are either: Good or Bad
  • Genders are either: Male or Female

It’s this oversimplification that is one of our biggest sources of conflict in the world. In the end, this is willful ignorance. We prefer to use the information we already know, from the only the narrow perspective we have ever had, to make judgments. We have labels ready and available in our minds to slap on any concept, so that way we can rest easy, and bask in our “brilliance.” This is lazy.

I am not saying we should go out and read ALL the information out there on new concepts and ideas to make an informed opinion, as most of these concepts don’t directly effect our lives to be worth taking in information we won’t use (That’s just mental clutter. Useless info). I AM saying that we should fight the instinct to label.

Even when it comes to the basic labeling idea of “bad” and “good”. People are so quick to slap “this is bad” on new changes. What makes something “bad”? The fact that it is new? The fact that it forces you to think? The fact that it forces you to abandon a lifestyle or idea that you have been accustomed to? Or, is it bad because it is destructive to what you would consider a greater good (Gods will and such)?

Honestly, unless there are lives at risk, the last question is not even on the table. And the last question is the only valid one; I laugh at the other questions. Lets face it, the majority of the issues and changes we face today are not “Lives are at risk” matters, and with that being the case, only the other questions apply. I.E. If we are labeling something as “bad”, but there are no lives at risk, it’s because it shakes our small little world we have been accustomed to, right down to the core. Booo Hoooo (sarcasm).

Instead, if we have to slap a mental label on new ideas and concepts, lets slap the label “New” on them. Doing so will force us to either let it go (because it’s not important enough to us), or will force us to gather more information so that we may adapt to the change.

In the end the need to have these hard labels just reflect the laziness of people unwilling or unable to adapt to change. It’s just that simple.

Don’t be lazy, be adaptable. Expand your mind, minimize your closet (not the other way around).

Now more than ever in my life I am seeing cultural changes coming down the road. So now more than ever I am seeing the ignorant leaning on their labels, rather than trying to understand and adapt. Changes such as:

  • Our gender revolution: “New”
  • This new phase in woman’s lib: “New” (I would even call it good)
  • ME TOO: “New”
  • Trumps Wall: Now this CAN be labeled “Bad” or “Good”, as lives ARE at risk.

There ya go. Only one out of four issues is even worth stamping a hard label on.

The fact is ….. the risk of human life aside, there is no such thing as “good” and “bad.” It’s all subjective. And no matter what we may like or believe, these cultural changes we are having are inevitable, and just a natural part of our cultural evolution. So the only decision we really have to make is: “Am I adaptable, or am I obsolete?”

Keep a Low Maintenance Life

Washing, cleaning, fixing, organizing, repeat. The elements in our life require a certain amount of maintenance. But how much of the maintenance we do is actually required? It seems to me that there are only three reason why we maintain things:

  1. Functionality
  2. Looks
  3. Status quo

Functionality is a perfectly justified reason to maintain all of our elements. Looks are kinda important too. But how much of the maintenance we do is solely for the purpose of keeping functionality? How much for looks even?

Example: Consider self cleaning (showering/bathing). There are very real hygienic reasons to keep clean, like preventing infection. But must we shower every day to fight off infection? Certainly not. There is looks to consider as well though. Smells too. If we do heavy manual labor during the day, then YES it may be absolutely necessary to shower/bathe every day (maybe twice a day). But if we work desk jobs, than the likelihood we will get dirty or perspire enough to even be noticeable is probably slim. Cleaning every day may not be necessary. Not necessary for functional OR cosmetic reasons.

So why do we do it? Status quo. Social convention. It’s what is expected of us. In the end, it is the norm we have become accustomed to.

I don’t think I need to point out that these are illusions. Mental limitations that are in the end, just mental clutter.

How many of us are over maintaining for mere cosmetic reasons, or even worse ….. social convention?

This is true for ALL the elements in our lives we maintain: Our home, our automobiles, our laundry. So many of us are over maintaining the elements in our lives to keep with the status quo, and it is clutter eating up our most valuable resource ……time.

Maintain our elements for functional purposes, and for a modest amount of cosmetic purposes only. Doing this, we will find that we gain back a considerable amount of our time.

Just as a general rule, I say: “It’s not dirty unless it is noticeably (with at least one of your senses) dirty. The fact that it has been a while since you cleaned something doesn’t make it dirty”