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I asked a good friend of mine from Germany what came to mind when she thought of America. "McDonald's and Malls," was her response. As simple as her summation is, I found myself getting defensive, not wanting to accept that the projected image of America can be boiled down to fast food and consumerism.
But then I got to thinking I realized we're more than just an overweight, consumerist society. Our culture thrives on consuming not just food and objects, but encourages people to spread themselves so thin trying to find a center and reconnect with ourselves which requires such intense effort that we're left exhausted by the end. It's time we examine, or maybe even determine for the first time, just what it is exactly that we want to get out of our lives. Here are some helpful tips on how you can painlessly get back to your "center."
Make a list of the things that really matter.
By writing down your top 5-10 priorities/most important things, you can regroup and steer your focus back to where it really belongs.
Weed out your appointment book. Time is the most precious thing we have in our lives; Randy Pausch's famous lecture, turned book, The Last Lecture, explicitly addressed how important it is we make the most of the time we have. On a similar note, try to free up your time at home and work by focusing on the most important tasks, and try to find ways to eliminate or delay completing less demanding ones.
Spring clean your house, with a dumpster.
My mother is a huge proponent of liberation from "stuff." For centuries religions have taught that material possessions are not the markers of a fulfilled or happy life, in fact, many religions believe that by clinging to possessions we cannot spiritually advance into the next world, respectively. Whether you're religious or not, loving your stuff isn't going to make you a more complete human being. Purge the unnecessary junk and free up your mind, house, closets drawers for a better appreciation of "less is more."
This has become a dirty word in America. The fact is, most Americans find an insatiable desire to have the newest, best, shiniest model of everything the moment it comes out. We've lost all sense of gratitude for having what we do have, and instead lust after the next big thing.
Take care of your bod.
This nation is addicted to fast food. Our country is eating itself to death and hardly thinking twice about it. Body, mind and soul are interconnected; you need to take care of your body if your soul and mind are to be at ease. Start cooking more at home, buy fresh, unprocessed foods and get back to the gym. Exercise and nutrition have gone by the wayside in favor of drive thrus and plush sofas. It's time to work what you got until it just can't give anymore!
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