How To: Give Yourself Room to Think in Two Easy Steps

Give Yourself Room to Think in Two Easy Steps

Yes it's the 21st century and yes, everyone's busy, everyone's connected. Accept it. Move on. Be happy.

DON'T BUY INTO THE HYPE—literally and figuratively. I'm here to tell you that YOU do not need all the 'stuff' that bogs you down or all the unnecessary information that does not affect YOU. Read on and make some time to really think about what's important.

Step one: Stop being a news vampire. The world will continue to turn if you don't spend hours a day sucking up and spreading the infection of the universe's misery and heartache to everyone you know. It really has no effect on your life if some poor soul popped his clogs from a freak illness on the other side of the country. And it's really unlikely that your pal in Poughkeepsie is going to adopt an abused Labradoodle in Montana. (Ever notice that ALL dogs in shelters have a history of abuse? Tug harder on the heartstrings anyone? It's called emotional marketing—we'll get more into that time suck another day.) FOCUS people. Pick a few things that are important to you (make sure they matter in your life) then cut the fat. It might seem difficult, but it isn't. Trim off little chunks of meaningless flab and leave the meat you can really sink your teeth into.

Take 10 minutes—only ten minutes—to go through your Facebook "likes". "Unlike" everything and everyone that isn't integral to your life and your passions. Using the above examples, feel free to keep up to date with the happenings in your location—the local news station, the local animal shelter, friends and family that you actually like and have a substantial relationship with. And be sure to leave a couple of 'passions' in place; maybe a local museum, the International Vegan Recipe Swappers Group, whatever, as long as you only leave what is genuinely important.

Repeat the above step with all your social media: Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc., even myspace for the three of you that still use it. You get the idea.

Step two: Stop buying crap you don't need! I'm not foolish enough (or old enough) to try and convince you that you can live a full, rewarding, and safe life without a cell phone. But I am going to say that you do not need some over-priced wonder o' technology gadget that can tell you when to wake up, what to eat, how to drive your car, where to drive your car and what songs you like and by whom. First off, the more you rely on machines to live for you, quite simply, the squishier and more useless your brain becomes—not good for thinking and God forbid your battery goes dead. You do not want to be eaten by zombies because your 'tool' didn't politely say "Run east for 500 feet - now".

I don't want to offend anyone, but I'm willing to suggest that you are not so vital a link in the food chain that anyone's going to lose life or limb if you don't reply to a txt msg within 2.75 seconds with a YouTube link to the sheep herding bunny.

How does limiting the extravagance of gadgetry give you more time and a less squishy mind? Easy: you don't spend hours 'researching' (this includes asking everyone under the sun what they think of Siri's political affiliations); you don't waste time attempting to learn how to operate said gadget, (even though you know you will most likely never use half of Mr. Gadgets special features); and BONUS!, the more little things you do for yourself, the more you train your brain and body to work together. Believe it or not, there is value in eye-to-hand coordination beyond texting/typing. There is also less eye strain involved in looking at a printed page, and larger format visuals provide an opportunity for more passively processed information to be absorbed—useful brain food like approximating distances and recognizing shapes, not how many people like fish tacos in Albuquerque.

Keep in mind, I'm not only talking about iPhones and Garmin, the 'rule of less stuff' applies to many things. You do not need an electric mini-cupcake maker, a Snuggie, a self-regulating houseplant waterer or an automatic calorie counter in your pocket.  I'm confident that you can operate a blanket and I'm sure you already know if you should or shouldn't eat the donut.

Ah, the joys of sweet simplicity! The more clutter you remove from your life, the more value you will get from your experiences and your mind will benefit. And the world benefits from one less stupid person. Yay!

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