7 ways to make your life easier

I saw a tall woman the other day.

Immediately I was seized with the “grass is always greener” mentality, one that I’ve outgrown, as I thought “my life would be easier if I were taller”. I felt that way a lot when I was younger. If I were taller, if I were thinner, if my eyebrows were less unruly…

My life is easier now than it was then, though my height hasn’t changed. So what is it that has made a difference? Sure, I had a few advantages: access to good education, supportive family and friends, gainful employment in fields I enjoy. But one can have all of those things and not ever mature past adolescent angst. After careful review, here are seven things that made a difference for me. If you can fit them into your life, they might make a difference for you, too.

— 1 —

Sleep

Once upon a time I was 28. That year I worked a full-time job, a part-time job, did an internship, was working on my masters, ran a half-marathon, did a triathlon, and was in a few operas. Also, I was grieving. People often asked how I could do all of those things. The answer: 8 hours of sleep a night. I could do without sitting down to eat, I could do without a social life, I could do without reading for pleasure. I could not do without sleep. So every night, with few exceptions, I went to bed at a a reasonable hour.

(NB: I am only a few years past 28, but I do not intend to live like that again)

— 2 —

Make your bed (or whatever)

Disclaimer: I never make my bed.

An unmade bed doesn’t bother me. But I’ve learned that other things do, in subtle ways. Long term, a mess will get to a person, even an oblivious person like myself. I learned that keeping a clean environment was a way of being hospitable to myself, a way of affirming that I am worthy of comfort. I still don’t do a thorough cleaning often enough, but I keep tidy enough that I am able to maintain my sanity.

— 3 —

Learn the difference between needs and wants

I need a roof over my head. On a slightly less urgent level I need not to have a roommate.

I want a back deck, a parking space, a spare bedroom, ample natural sunlight, hardwood floors, stainless appliances, and city living. It is possible that I could have all of those things without going completely broke, but I might come close. So I live in a modest apartment, and the only one of the “wants” I have is the urban environment. It makes me shudder to think of the financial mess I could be in if I had stretched just a little beyond my means for my adult years.

— 4 —

Deal with your “stuff”

This is one that might be easier said than done. Everybody has some issues (abandonment, insecurity, rage etc), and those manifest in different ways in all of us (acting out, being prickly, self-sabatoge, etc). My damage of choice was massive self-hatred which revealed itself as an absolute inability to ever shut my mouth. Looking back I imagine I was horrid, but that might be the self-hatred talking.

So I went to therapy, did a lot of journaling, tried to be honest with myself, prayed daily for healing, and one day finally felt a little better. I had grown up, and it was grueling.

Maybe you can’t. Maybe your traumas and hurts run way deeper than mine. But at least being able to name them can change the ways your “stuff” expresses itself.

And if you can, forgive your parents. Just about everyone blames their parents for something. The prospect of letting it go may seem insurmountable. But it might also be transformative.

— 5 —

Fill yourself with good things

Eat vegetables. Don’t drink too much alcohol. Read poetry. Hydrate. Listen to Bach. Accept compliments.

An example of what not to do.

An example of what not to do.

— 6 —

Stop playing games with God

I learned, as most of us must, that playing nice and doing the right thing would not gain me divine favor. I always knew from cliches that life wasn’t fair, but I didn’t have much evidence to the contrary until a few years ago. Ooooh boy was I angry at God (and to be fair, there are times I still feel that pull of whiny righteousness).

I was never one who did good deeds because I thought they would earn me a reward in heaven – or so I thought. I did good because I wanted a good world, because that was the appropriate response to God’s love. But a part of me held on to the belief that of course I would be blessed, because I did good, because I tried hard.

There was a belief, far below my consciousness, that good would be repaid with an easy existence, and letting go of that quid pro quo mentality was extraordinarily difficult. I am slowly, agonizingly learning that the way of prayer is confounding, and that God’s goodness is not the same as ease.

— 7 —

Buy a stepstool

I no longer believe my life would be easier if I were tall, but I know it is easier because I own a stepstool. In fact, this was the first housewarming gift my mother bought me, in her wisdom. Since I was living alone, there might be things I couldn’t reach, and the stepstool was an easy fix.

When there’s an easy fix, go for it. When faced with something you can’t change, see what you can change. Focus on the small victories. Celebrate them with a healthy snack.

What has made your life easier?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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4 Responses to 7 ways to make your life easier

  1. jdurepos says:

    This is book material!

  2. Val says:

    Keeping perspective on what I can and cannot do to affect change in my iwn life, and not worrying about what I cannot fix. — I live in Los Angeles, home of some of the worst traffic in the country, start there. In life terrible and truly random things do happen that I can’t fix. Terrible things much bigger than me happen (e.g., global econonmic collapse in 2008) that affect my life in ways I can’t fix. The world does not run according to my wishes or schedule always. Keeping perspective on what and what is not within my power to change saves a lot of time and energy.

    Say “I love you,” always and often to those you love — No regrets for this, ever.

    Don’t cut corners on cleaning or repairs — Just doing it right the first time and not cutting corners ultimately saves time in the end.

    Don’t be a slave to the “TO DO” list — What being an administrative assistant has taught me is that I can’t always do everything in a day. That yellow ruled pad has more than one page. No one has yet died because I recopied the unfinished items from the previous day to the top of the next day’s list. Life goes on, watch your time, keep perspective.

    Rediscover “No.” — If I try to do too much, I do nothing well.

    Sanity days — Take them, don’t take phone calls. Disappear so you cannot be found to someplace beautiful.

    Prayer — Prayer is amazing, powerful, and works.

    Instructables and YouTube — How to do anything. Gummy Bear Surgery on Instructables is a personal favorite.

    Borax — The number of ways this makes cleaning my house better (and safer) may just qualify borax as second-cousin to pixie dust.

    $5 Footlongs, $5 Hot-and-Ready cheese pizza — Thank you Subway and Little Caesar’s, dinner (and another meal) are now “done.”

  3. RAnn says:

    Accepting that I can’t do it all, and to the extent possible, choosing what I will do. Yes, I could be room mom, but it would create a lot of hectic days and there may be times it would conflict with work, so I don’t do it. Girl Scouts is after work and I get to choose the schedule, so I choose to do that. Teaching CCD was not a problem when my kids were in the program–but once they weren’t it was so I don’t do it.

  4. kkollwitz says:

    Accept that your world could collapse at any moment and be horrible for the rest of your days.

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