Thirty Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

Originally posted December 11, 2011 on:

MARK AND ANGEL HACK LIFE BLOG

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

      1. Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.  If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you.  You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot.  Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth.  And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.
      2. Stop running from your problems. – Face them head on.  No, it won’t be easy.  There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them.  We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems.  That’s not how we’re made.  In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall.  Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time.  This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.
      3. Stop lying to yourself. – You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself.  Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves.  Read The Road Less Traveled.
      4. Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. – The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.  Yes, help others; but help yourself too.  If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
      5. Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.  Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you.  Don’t change so people will like you.  Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
      6. Stop trying to hold onto the past. – You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.
      7. Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing.  Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success.  You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.
      8. Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. – We may love the wrong person and cry about the wrong things, but no matter how things go wrong, one thing is for sure, mistakes help us find the person and things that are right for us.  We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past.  But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.  Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.
      9. Stop trying to buy happiness. – Many of the things we desire are expensive.  But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions.
      10. Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. – If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either.  You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else.  Read Stumbling on Happiness.
      11. Stop being idle. – Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place.  Evaluate situations and take decisive action.  You cannot change what you refuse to confront.  Making progress involves risk.  Period!  You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.
      12. Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises.  Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.
      13. Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons. – Relationships must be chosen wisely.  It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company.  There’s no need to rush.  If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.
      14. Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work. – In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet.  Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you.  But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.
      15. Stop trying to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others doing better than you.  Concentrate on beating your own records every day.  Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.
      16. Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.  Ask yourself this:  “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”
      17. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you.  You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough.  But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past.  You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation.  So smile!  Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.
      18. Stop holding grudges. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart.  You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate.  Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.”  It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.”  Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself!  And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too.  If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.
      19. Stop letting others bring you down to their level. – Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.
      20. Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. – Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway.  Just do what you know in your heart is right.
      21. Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. – The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it.  If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.  Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
      22. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things.  The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.
      23. Stop trying to make things perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done.  Read Getting Things Done.
      24. Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile.  Don’t take the easy way out.  Do something extraordinary.
      25. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while.  You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well.  You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears.  The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.
      26. Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life.  When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.
      27. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out.  But making one person smile CAN change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world.  So narrow your focus.
      28. Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy.  One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time?  Three years?  Five years?”  If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.
      29. Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen.  Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story.  If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
        Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life.  Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.  Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.

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Pass the Peas

Spend a few years in Florida and you’ll eventually spend New Year’s Day with someone creating a traditional meal of Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens.

The story goes that Union soldiers plundered every source of food as they swept through the Confederacy.  They stripped the fields and storehouses; they took every chicken, cow, and hog.  The only thing the Northern Aggressors left behind were Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens — something they had never developed a taste for above the Mason-Dixon.

So many Southerners survived on this fare that it was ultimately considered a “good luck” dish.   The Peas brought the luck; the Greens meant coming prosperity.

Every New Year’s Day, hundreds of thousands of Floridians cook up a big batch of Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens, along with fresh, homemade cornbread.

The characters and settings of the South are influenced by many things, both new and old.  The past is as important and the present — and future.  The traditional recipe is a thread to distant families and distant times.

Best wishes to you and your writing in 2012.  And pass the peas and greens.

 

Celebrations Among the Cypress

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Speak of Christmas to most Americans and imaginations turn to blustry snowscapes, evergreen trees and families pulling sleds.  Coca-Cola Santas, snowflakes falling and Frosty.  Sleigh rides and skating on yon farmer’s pond.

Down among the ‘Glades, the holidays are a special set of memories. Santa, sure, but the climate and the culture is wetlands than winter wonderland.

Amid the cypress, Christmas offers a new dimension of experience.  Musty scent of dark, damp places.  A trickle of perspiration on your temple. Stunning reds and yellows exploding at sunset over the Gulf.  Steel drums in the distance bouncing out “Deck the Halls” — followed by “Margaritaville.”

From condo balconies, over marinas filled with sailboats adorned with red & green flickering lights on their masts, we lounge with cool beverages.  Under thatched Tiki huts, amid tourists from Duluth and Buffalo, we listen and absorb random talk.  We splash in gentle, incoming waves, flip-flops flapping, as we watch a billion stars flicker into view.

In Miami, Orlando and Tampa, lights aglow, the aroma of Cubano sandwiches and guava-filled empanadas, loud hip-hop rocketing out from convertibles and low-riders — and pasty white tourists stare hypnotically at the hustle of the street.

For others, it is small town charm with a tropical flair.  Places with names like Cinco Bayou, Wimauma and Okahumpaka.  Where families cook crawfish and grouper.

Life is good among the cypress.  It is a life that adds a special spin to the writing that magically appears from this special place.  And to Christmas.

Happy Holidays to all.

Inspiration: Lost and Found

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I once worked as director of communications for one of the nation’s most respected botanical gardens.  One of my favorite pastimes was going down to the main office and roam through the lost and found.

The variety of goods left behind was always fascinating.  Sure, umbrellas, car keys and cheap cameras, but also little treasures that stimulated my imagination and sparked speculative thinking.

Why on Earth would someone bring a ceramic octopus to the garden?  A 45 record of Elvis’ Blue Christmas.  A set of lock picks.  A street map of Vienna.  Two unfired .308 British military rifle cartridges.  A very old leather pouch with a handful of beautiful glass marbles.  A framed picture of a black Labrador.  A green metal doorknob.

Some believed that these were some family artifact left behind as a tribute.  Some wondered if the items were symbolic icons used in black magic rituals.  Scavenger hunt?  Yes, possibly.  Geocaching prizes?  Perhaps.  Or were they just random and isolated things misplaced?

As a writer, I often wondered if the items were related.  I created mindtrip stories that connected  items in ways that stimulated the formation of characters, settings and plot.  Some were nonsense.  Some were fantasy.  Some became mystery.

Inspiration is where you find it.  Are you looking?

Goal Setters vs. Go Getters

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There are many types of writers, as well as non-writers.

So many non-writers spend time researching, note taking, outlining, name making that they never really get down to putting the words together and finishing their book.  These ‘go getters’ are always going here and there — on Google, surfing writing sites, hitting bookstores — searching for inspiration and substance.  But they often are simply avoiding the reality of writing.

Writers write.  It is the essential moment when the words get down and the sentences flow and the paragraphs are built.  Writers write.

Setting a goal to write each and every day is a start in truly becoming a writer.  Try to set a minimum word count and make that happen routinely.  Put your butt in a chair, get your keyboard clacking and put your brain and fingers in sync.

Goal setters:  What goals do you set that get you writing?  What would you recommend to the ‘go-getters’ to help them start writing and keep writing daily?

January Workshops & Conferences

January brings opportunity to start the new year by enhancing and enriching your writing through a wide array of workshops and conferences.  Here is a listing of those that are just around the corner of the calendar…

Key West Literary Seminar

From website: Each January the Seminar explores a different literary theme through lectures, panel presentations, readings, informal gatherings, and discussions.

January 5-8, 2012

Blue Flower Arts Winter Writers’ Conference

From website: The natural canvas of this breathtaking environment sets the stage for inspirational workshops, readings, panels, and thought-provoking discourse in a community of like-minded writing professionals.

January 8-14, 2012

Writers in Paradise

From website: The tranquil seaside landscape sets the tone for this informal gathering of writers, teachers, editors, and literary agents.

January 14-22, 2012

Palm Beach Poetry Festival

From brochure: Work with one of our critically acclaimed poets in a workshop. Enjoy and learn from readings and special events.

January 16-21, 2012

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