“Maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves” – Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
(Photo: Ben Rimmer)
Once a Pope, after marveling at the statue of David, asked Michelangelo, “How did you know what to cut away?” Michelangelo replied, “It’s simple. I just remove everything that doesn’t look like David.”
Creating a positive life for yourself is very similar; you need to cut away things which are negative. Below are just some of the tips I discovered along the way to help remove a lot of the negativity from my life. Visualize the life that you want and remove everything that does not fit in it.
Let’s get started:
1) LESS TV – That 42 inch box in your house is one of the biggest enemies you can have. Pretend for a second that the television in your house is actually a living person: What qualities would it have? What would it talk to you about? That person would be sensationalizing everything; he would be manic depressive, not particularly bright, vacuous, narcissistic with a very short attention span, and he would never want to go out or do anything. Now imagine spending four hours a day with this person, day after day. For the most part, 90 percent of what you see on television is negative, with an amazing ability to comfortably numb you to keep you from following your dreams. Stop watching TV, unless it’s something educational or inspiring like a documentary or a really good movie. And do this only rarely. And most of all—NO REALITY SHOWS! Stop living vicariously through the lives of other people—become the person others want to emulate.
2) LESS NEWS – This is related to Less TV, but a little different. First ask yourself a question: If you stop watching the news, how long will it be before something that happens in the world would actually affect you directly? Outside of the weather and traffic (which you can find out in seconds from the web), most everything else is pretty irrelevant and has no direct connection to your life. It’s good to be informed and know what’s going on in the world, but the majority of the news you see is overdramatized negativity. Outside of a few dumb “feel good stories,” like the dog who skateboards or a farmer who grows the world’s largest pumpkin, everything else is negative stuff that happens in the world.
If you want to know about the world, try to get it from more unbiased news sources, like National Public Radio or a respected newspaper, which supplies data in a more intelligent fashion and asks you to think not feel. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any news source which spends more time giving more opinions than facts.
3) AVOID NEGATIVE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE – This is an obvious one but often overlooked. I always tell guys who are on the path of improving their lives to be prepared to lose friends. Which is, in a way, saying be prepared to lose people who you thought were your friends. Here is a simple test you can do. Lie down, close your eyes and visualize the life you really want (the girlfriend, the house, the cars, the lifestyle), and now visualize throwing a big party and inviting all your friends and family there. Now think of who would be truly happy and supportive of your success, and who would be jealous (even slightly)? Now cut out or limit your interaction with people who would not be supportive of your success. This is a very important one.
4) YOU DON’T OWE ANYTHING TO YOUR PARENTS – This one is very, very big, and it’s something practically nobody talks about. Some of the most negative people in your life could be your own family. It’s hard to limit your interactions with them without feeling a great deal of guilt. Well, I am here to say “You Don’t Owe Anything to Your Parents” if they consistently belittle and sabotage you. Remember giving birth and taking care of you for 18 years does not give your parents the right to treat you like shit for the next 20. If you don’t feel good about yourself after spending time with anyone in your family, it’s perfectly ok to limit your interactions with them. If they ask (which they will) why you are having less contact with them, simply say, “Because when I am around you, I don’t feel good about myself; I don’t know why it is; do you have any ideas? I want to spend more time with you, but I always feel bad about myself afterwards; what can we do about this?” Let them come up with an answer. There is nothing in those two sentences which is not true, so don’t be afraid to say it and ask it. A happy life is an honest life, and that includes being honest with yourself and others.
5) NOT DOING THE THINGS YOU LOVE – One of the saddest things I see every week on Facebook are people posting “TGIF.” If you have a job that is so bad that you have to be thankful for Friday to come around, it should be a sign to do something else with your life. Why are you not following your dreams, but choosing to instead work 40 hours a week at a job you hate? So one day after many years of doing something you hate, you can be promoted and make slightly more money working 60 hours a week with more responsibilities at the same hateful job. Get on the path and follow your dream, trust the universe to take care of you.
6) LESS YOU HAVE, THE MORE YOU OWN – Clean up your place; there’s nothing worse than coming home to a messy place. Start throwing out things you don’t use or need; trust me, it will be hard at first, but it will make a world of difference. If it’s too overwhelming, start with one corner of the room and do a small section each day. Hire a cleaner, for under $200, your place will be amazing. If possible, allow more sunlight into your place. This also means throwing out crappy clothes. Fill your life with more beauty, even if it means spending a little more money.
If you want to know what other negative things to cut out of your life, just take a vacation for a week to ten days, to someplace beautiful, someplace where you really enjoy yourself. On the last day of your vacation, sit down and write down all the things that you dread coming back to (a bad job, negative friends, bad neighborhood, messy house, etc.). Now, one by one, cut out or try to solve each of those negative things.
Life is too short…live your dream.