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Why I Am Not On Facebook And The Benefits Of It

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“Distracted from distraction by distraction.”  – T.S. Eliot

I get asked all the time why I’m not on Facebook, so I thought I would share my thoughts with you. The main reason was that I was a compulsive user of Facebook. It was the ultimate distraction. I couldn’t even wait in line without checking the Facebook App on my mobile phone. I’d be going about my day and Status Updates would constantly pop into my head. It was a bad habit.

Facebook has also changed a lot since I first joined in 2007. It used to be a valuable tool for keeping in touch with people, but it turned into constant advertisements and people began only posting internet memes. I wasn’t getting any value from it. I also became uneasy about the level of privacy. On the personal side, I became uncomfortable with sharing information with people I hardly knew, and the idea of “Facebook Stalking” made me uneasy as I’m a private person. I felt like I didn’t have complete control of the information that was posted online about myself. Also, the fact that Facebook now owns the right to do anything they want with your data is frightening. Facebook caused more anxiety than real life did.

Lastly, Facebook felt very superficial to me. We always like to make our online persona our ideal versions of ourselves, so I felt when I was looking at my ‘friend’s’ pages, it wasn’t a real representation. I thought it was pointless as I would rather have real connections with the people in my life. I’m lucky that I avoid drama, but I could definitely see how it could be toxic for those of us who are drawn towards it. I fear what bullying is like for kids still in school.

I am fully aware of the benefits of social media – it’s extremely useful for keeping in touch with people, marketing, networking, job search and spreading information. But I prefer to rely on websites that are less personal and be a bit choosier on what info goes out.

So with that in mind, I gathered the contacts of the people I wanted to keep in touch with and decided to delete my account. I’m proud to say I’ve been Facebook Free for just over a year! This blog is about minimalism and getting rid of distractions in order to live a more meaningful life, and getting rid of Facebook was a great introduction into it.

It’s funny because at first I kept reaching for my phone only to realize there was no more Facebook App. And I (still to this day) unknowingly type “www.faceb…” into my internet browser only to realize halfway through I can’t log on. But aside from that, there were so many benefits that came out of getting rid of my Facebook account.

The 5 benefits of not being on Facebook:

  • More Time: One of the main benefits of not having Facebook is how much time I suddenly had. I was so much more productive! I could write more music, work on more projects and have more time to spend it with people I cared about. I could also spend more time enjoying the outdoors or cooking a delicious meal.
  • Deeper Connections with People: The second most important benefit I had was that the level of depth to my friendships and relationships increased. Without the ability to check in on how people were doing online, I was able to have real meaningful conversations, you know, like we did in the old days 😉
  • More Privacy: I had more personal privacy and control over the info that was posted online about myself, and I had privacy from the Facebook information thieves.
  • Living in the Moment: Being less fixated on the online world helped me to become more present and aware of my surroundings. I was able to truly enjoy the here and now.
  • Higher Self Esteem: There have been studies that Facebook makes us unhealthy, sad and jealous because we compare ourselves to others. Well I can say with confidence that it hardly comes up for me anymore as I can’t peer into anyone’s lives.

And finally, a wonderful song a friend sent me that is somewhat related. I’m quite enjoying Passenger. There are many songs about getting rid of distractions and the superficial world and more into meaningful, happy living.

“Scare Away The Dark”

Well, sing, sing at the top of your voice,

Love without fear in your heart.
Feel, feel like you still have a choice
If we all light up we can scare away the dark

We wish our weekdays away
Spend our weekends in bed
Drink ourselves stupid
And work ourselves dead
And all just because that’s what mom and dad said we should do

We should run through the forest
We should swim in the streams
We should laugh, we should cry,
We should love, we should dream
We should stare at the stars and not just the screens
You should hear what I’m saying and know what it means

To sing, sing at the top of your voice,
Love without fear in your heart.
Feel, feel like you still have a choice
If we all light up we can scare away the dark

Well, we wish we were happier, thinner and fitter,
We wish we weren’t losers and liars and quitters
We want something more not just nasty and bitter
We want something real not just hash tags and Twitter

It’s the meaning of life and it’s streamed live on YouTube
But I bet Gangnam Style will still get more views
We’re scared of drowning, flying and shooters
But we’re all slowly dying in front of computers

So sing, sing at the top of your voice,
Oh, love without fear in your heart.
Can you feel, feel like you still have a choice
If we all light up we can scare away the dark

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Facebook. Feel free to share them in the comments below or send me an email at lessoftheexcess at gmail dot com.

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Minimalist Exercise for People Who Don’t Like To Exercise

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“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in.” – Unknown

Ah exercise… Some of us love it, and some of us hate it. But the truth is that health is the most important thing we have. Without our health we would never be able to enjoy the other parts of our lives that are also important to us.

People who know me know that I am not the most physically active person the on the planet. But that doesn’t mean I don’t value my health, because I definitely do! It’s extremely important to me. However, I tend to be so cerebral and stuck in my head (hence this blog!), that I tend to ignore the physical world from time to time, including my body. Oops.

That’s until now! When I discovered a minimalist exercise routine that has completely worked for me. It’s simple, and breaks it down to the basics. No fancy stuff going on here. I’ve been doing it for the past month (with a few modifications) and I find it quite fun as I can actually see my progress. I wanted to share it with you guys in case there was anyone else out there feeling the same way as I did. It isn’t a hardcore exercise routine for those of you who really like to push it, but it does the job pretty well and studies say you just need 12 minutes of high-intensity exercise in order to reap the benefits. I can already feel my stomach, butt and arms getting firmer and more toned.

This routine is called the Lifetime Ladder. I discovered it here on the Lifehacker.com website.

It’s free and it requires no equipment, just your own body. It also doesn’t take any longer than 15 minutes a day! That’s nothing. Play 3 of your favourite 5 minute songs while you exercise and you’re good to go! (I’m pretty excited to tell you about this). The best part is you can actually visually see your progress in numbers via the ladder rungs. If you get sick and are stuck in bed for a week, you can notice how your progress has gone down.

The website explains the Lifetime Ladder like this:

The program is organised around a “fitness ladder” with 48 rungs. Each rung prescribes a given number of repetitions of five exercises. The first 15 rungs constitute the Introductory Ladder and involve easier variants of the exercises in the Lifetime Ladder, rungs 16 through 48. The exercises are intended to be done every day. Completing all the exercises typically takes between 10 and 15 minutes.

Spend one week on each rung. On a given day of the week, for example Sunday, try the next higher rung. If it seems as easy as the current rung felt the week before, move up to that level. If you have difficulty completing any exercise of the new rung, or you can’t complete it in 15 minutes, or you feel pain or exhaustion at that level, stay at your current level for another week.

How great is that! So easy! I’ve modified the “bends” into squats, and I’m going to add some calf raises. Also, for the “steps” portion, if I have the time I like to either go for a run, a long walk, or a bikeride to keep things interesting.

Here’s the direct link to the instructions: What, Me Exercise?

That’s it!

Let me know if you try this exercise routine in the comments below or send me an email at lessoftheexcess at gmail dot com.

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My Story Page Updated

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I have finally updated My Story page, for anyone who is interested!

A good friend of mine always used to say, “It’s the journey that counts, not the destination.”

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Breaking Free From Vices

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“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” – Joseph Campbell

Today’s blog post was triggered by an interesting and challenging experience I recently had and I felt like I wanted to share my insights with you. I was faced with a situation where in the past I would have gone to one of my vices in order to cover up fear and emotion, but I was able to push through it in order in order to gain a richer and more meaningful experience. I’m using this as a metaphor for this blog post on how we use things, or clutter, or bad habits in order to cover up something that is underneath.

Do you have any vices?

Any bad habits, negative character traits or reactions that are unhealthy for you? Shopping? Drug use? Alcohol? Dating? Sex? Over-eating? Gambling? Even habits like watching too much television or YouTube when you could be focusing on something more meaningful or productive? We do them because we think they will make us feel better, and they do but only for a brief moment. Just as soon as it started, the happiness goes away and we’re left with an empty feeling at the pit of our stomach and we need to fill up the hole with more of these vices again. And the cycle continues.

These vices are all forms of distractions keeping us away from a more focused, happy, authentic and meaningful life.

What we really need to do is get to the source of what is really upsetting us and leaving us feeling empty or afraid. What are we trying to run away from within ourselves? And what are the triggers? It is usually an emotional issue that we are trying to avoid and only when we come to grips with what we’re emotionally avoiding can we have the blissful and meaningful life we want (and deserve). We won’t need to turn to our vices to make us feel better.

Think about the life you want to live. Refer to this blog post to help you.

How to recognize when you are using vices as forms of distractions and get focused:

1. Become aware of your negative habits, write them down if you need to. It might be difficult to recognize when something is bad for you if it feels good. But if you are constantly feeling frustrated that things are not going the way you want them to in your life, (and it is happening over and over again), it is a good sign something needs to change. The first step is awareness.

2. Notice when you feel the need to act on your vice. How are you feeling at this very moment. Are you bored? Lonely? Depressed? Scared?

3. Face your issue head on. Stop for a moment, don’t head for the nearest shopping mall or alcoholic drink. Instead take some time to sit and do nothing and just feel your emotions. Nothing bad will happen to you.

When we are able to be comfortable with being alone with ourselves, we learn more about who we are. And to know ourselves brings us closer to authenticity and true happiness. It takes courage, but it is necessary if we want to have the life we want. When we can do this, we won’t need all of the old vices that we are used to going to. Also, don’t be afraid to talk openly and honestly if your issue involves other people, because the results may surprise you.

From my personal experience, when I made the conscious decision to fight against my go-to vice, I was finally free, like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders. I  was free from being “stuck” in an old habit and being miserable and unhappy with the end results. I knew I had to stay focused on my life vision if I wanted to be happier. I grew so much from this and I want to make sure I am continuously growing and learning from these types of experiences and moments for the rest of my life. It’s basically ‘unlinking’ old associations, and creating new and more positive ones. Nothing could be better!

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

What are some of your vices? Do you notice when they come up? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email at lessoftheexcess at gmail dot com.

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What would your life look like if you had a Terminal Illness?

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A dear friend lent me a book which I have just finished called The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield and it was life changing! If you haven’t picked this one up yet, I highly recommend it. It’s about breaking through the resistance that stops us from creating the things (and life) we are meant to do. I’ve read many similar books, but this one beats it into you and gives you a good kick in the butt and reality check!

Resistance will try everything to stop you from following through on your dreams through fear, procrastination, distractions, self medication, self doubt etc. This book lays out practical tips for overcoming these (and more), but also gets right into the heart and soul of how we can get past resistance in order to be a professional, as well as tap into our higher realm. It applies to not only artists, but writers and entrepreneurs – anyone who wants to create something. In fact, this is the book that got me to start this blog, something that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time now. The chapters are short and it’s an easy read, so there’s really no excuse!

Anyway, one chapter entitled Life and Death wowed me. It talks about Tom Laughlin (an American actor, director, screenwriter, author, educator and political activist) whose speciality is working with people who have been diagnosed with cancer. His findings are that,

“The moment a person learns he’s got terminal cancer, a profound shift takes place in his psyche. At one stroke in the doctor’s office he becomes aware of what really matters to him. Things that sixty seconds earlier had seemed all important suddenly appear meaningless, while people and concerns that he had till then dismissed at once take on supreme importance.”

Patients realize that working all those long hours in the office didn’t matter and they start to recognize that the people they care about are much more important, as well as the dreams and passions they once had earlier in life. They are faced with asking about the meaning of life. Tom Laughlin says that our consciousness shifts from the Ego (our everyday brain that thinks, plans, and runs the show of our day-to-day life” to the Self which is a greater entity (our dreams, intuitions, “archetypes of the unconscious,” and the “sphere of the soul.”)

Once we realize what is really important, “Superficial concerns fall away, replaced by a deeper, more profoundly grounded perspective.” Tom teaches his cancer patients how to live out their dreams, and when they do, by some sort of miracle, cancers go into remission!

I strongly believe that when we are ill, our bodies are trying to tell us something. Imagine having to be one way (ie. an accountant because your family expected it from you) that was inconsistent to who you really were (a painter), and how much stress (whether we know it or not) that causes on our bodies. Yikes! I think about this a lot. About the Deathbed. Sure, it’s a little morbid perhaps, but it’s SO IMPORTANT for our health and well-being that we live our lives and make choices that are in line with our values and who we want to be.

Please check out this amazing book! http://www.stevenpressfield.com/the-war-of-art/

How would your life change if you found out you had a terminal illness? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email at lessoftheexcess at gmail dot com.

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What is Minimalism?

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“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.” – Joshua Becker

In the past few months, I have really gotten into minimalism. I never knew that much about it but after learning the meaning behind it, it really resonated with me. There was a moment when I realized I had attained everything I wanted materially, but I still wasn’t happy. And when I was really honest with myself, I realized I was doing it more to impress other people instead of living the way that was consistent to what I wanted.

“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” – Dave Ramsey

So with this in mind, I got rid of fifty percent of my belongings, and moved into a studio apartment. And I was finally free! Free from what people thought about me. Free from worrying about finances. Free from feeling overwhelmed about having to constantly clean my place. And free from feeling society’s pressure to live a certain way. I was able to focus on what I really wanted in life and live it my way. I was actually happier with less stuff!

In our culture we are taught that the more we have, the happier we will be. Advertisements trick us into thinking we need something we don’t have. Or that we have to have the latest and the greatest in order to be happy. We are taught that life is about owning a bigger house, a nicer car, and wearing the best name brands.

We really need to question this way of living. These are constructs that don’t actually have any truth behind them. Studies show time and time again that rich people are not necessarily happy and there are people with hardly anything who are much happier.

What do you think of when you hear the word Minimalism?

Usually the first thing that comes into people’s minds is that minimalism is about owning the bare minimum and living very simply. But minimalism is much more than that. There has to be intention behind it. It’s about questioning what things add value to our lives. Getting rid of the physical and mental clutter and having more time to spend it on the people we care about, our passions, our health and giving back to society.

And of course, there isn’t anything wrong with owning things, it’s just about being mindful and conscious about why we want certain things. You might want a big house because you truly enjoy having a space for entertaining your guests because that is what makes you happy. Intention is key.

So, what is Minimalism then?

I would break it down to:

  • Living intentionally, mindfully and consciously. Pause for a moment before you go to the checkout counter – Do I really need this?
  • Keeping your priorities straight and in line with who you want to be.
  • Questioning society’s norms, and listening to that little voice inside you, regardless of what you think is acceptable.
  • Not being attached to things materially. Even if you lose everything you’ve got, you are still you.
  • Quality over quantity.

There are many levels of minimalism, from extreme (only owning 100 items or less), to moderate (maybe you don’t like stark white walls, but still want a cozy and decorated home). Minimalism will be different for each person depending on their stage in life. But the end result is that you are left with more time, more money and more freedom to focus on things that really matter to you.

How do you think a minimalist lifestyle would benefit you? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email at lessoftheexcess at gmail dot com.

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Who Do You Want To Be?

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“Everything will line up perfectly when knowing and living the truth becomes more important than looking good.” – Alan Cohen

Before we can dive into living a meaningful life, it all has to start with who we want to be. Only then will we be closer to authenticity. Some of us spend hours, days, months, YEARS trying to figure out who we are. Through each new experience we slowly begin to learn what makes us tick, our likes, our dislikes, what to stay away from, who to surround ourselves with, the list goes on and on. And while all of that is really valuable, and important, I’d like to offer a new perspective.

Who do you want to be?

Close your eyes for a moment and take a few deep breaths. No really, try it.

Picture your future self. The self that is living the life that you have always dreamed of.

  • Where are you?
  • Where do you live? The city? Countryside? Ocean?
  • What do you notice around you? Look at the vivid details.
  • What is your home like?
  • Who is in your life? Do you have a partner? A family? Any pets? What about your closest friends?
  • Look at yourself, look into your eyes.
  • What do you look like? Notice the details.
  • Are you young or old?
  • What is your body like? Your health?
  • Notice the energy you radiate.
  • What kind of person are you? Creative? Technical? Nurturing? Intellectual?
  • Most importantly, how do you feel?  Are you happy? Peaceful? Confident? Sexy?

These are all important messages that your body, mind and soul are telling you.

Does the life you live today mirror the life you want for yourself?

From this point forward, hold on to this vision you see of yourself, and every time you are faced with making a choice that does not line up with these images, take a moment to pause and make a mindful decision. This is something I learned to do myself, and remind myself everyday now. Nobody’s perfect, so don’t beat yourself up if you sometimes fail.

For example, you have a choice of eating an ice cream or sticking to your healthy diet. Remember your visualization and make your choice in line with that. Or you are pressured by your family to have a career you have no interest in? Make a choice that lines up with who you want to be. It’s important for living your life with a purpose. It’s essential.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the life you saw. Let me know in the comments below or send me an email at lessoftheexcess at gmail dot com.

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