Category Archives: Change

12 Unhealthy Habits to Stop…Right Now

by Kelvin Belfon

12-Unhealthy-Habits-Stop

 

Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all. – Nathan W. Morris

 

We all desire happiness. No one sets out to be malcontent. Yet we engage in unhealthy habits on a regular basis that hold us back from pursuing life to its fullest.

It seems like self-defeating behaviors come far too easy for most of us. But over time, they do distract us from our priorities and clutter our lives with unwanted burdens. It happens, even to the smartest of us.

A productive lifestyle is hard work. It requires effort and discipline. It involves making the tough decisions that don’t always feel comfortable at first. But still, we must continually do the work of minimizing the non-essentials from our lives in order to achieve the life we desire.

The 12 unhealthy habits to avoid that I discuss below may be elementary in some respects. You may also find that some take longer to conquer once you get going on them. Be encouraged. It’s never too late to begin the journey and reclaim a better life.

 

12 Unhealthy Habits to Stop…Right Now

1. Stop watching T.V. The average American spends more than four hours watching television That’s 28 hours per week/two months per year/or 9 years in front of the tube in a 65 years span. Ouch! Go outdoors, exercise, read a book, start a business, and spend time with family or friends instead. The goal here is not radicalism. Just minimize…a lot.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others. The images we see on social media, entertainment magazines, reality shows and at the mall can leave us feeling as though we’re in competition with other. You can sometimes feel just plain inadequate. Images can be a lot to live up to.  Mark Twain said it best, “Comparison is the death of joy.” Appreciate yourself and avoid judging others.

3. Stop spending too much time on social media. The average person in the U.S. has five social media accounts and spends close to 7 hours browsing on these accounts each day. Sure, it’s a good way to stay connected to friends and family; but let’s face it, many of us use social media as an escape from what we’ve got going on in life. While social media may be a great outlet for destressing, time’s still ticking. Get on, get off, and keep it moving.

4. Stop keeping grudges. I love what Marianne Williamson says about this,  “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and wanting the other person to die.” Why do we think that holding grudges against others will hurt them? What’s certain is that unforgiveness leads to our own bitterness. It confines us to the past, which becomes toxic to our health. It’s not easy to release people from the hurt they’ve caused us. It doesn’t mean allowing people to continue to hurt us. But if we don’t release the prisoners inside of us, they’re only going to wreak havoc in our lives. Forgiveness is for our well being. When we do, it’s liberating!

5. Stop consuming too much junk food. A regular diet of cheeseburgers, fries, and sugary drinks leads to potential medical problems such as heart diseases, diabetes, obesity, and depression. When possible, practice moderation and switch to healthier choices like fruits, vegetables, grains, grilled instead of fried and processed foods. Since most of us don’t drink enough water, and especially for those who live in more dry climates as I do, always choose water or sodas.

6. Stop complaining about your lack. Many westerners have a chronic discontentment syndrome. We have been programmed desire more˗˗the biggest and the latest model of anything. This is what being grateful and content can be pretty hard for some. Marlon Rico Lee once said, “Be grateful for the things and people you have in your life. Things you take for granted someone else is praying for” – Marlan Rico Lee

7. Stop spending your way into debt. Contrary to the cultural belief, spending money on consumer good doesn’t make us happy. Neither does trying to live a life you can’t afford to replace, should you lose it all. In fact, living beyond one’s means only causes debt, stress, anxiety, divorce and even depression. The average U.S. household carries $15,762 in credit card debt and $130, 922 in total debt! Here’s a better way. Budget before you buy. Pay with cash and ask this one question before your next purchase.

8. Stop blaming others for your problems. Is life challenging and unfair? Yes! But… “when we blame, we give away our power,” says Greg Anderson. Habitual finger pointing fosters bitterness, resentment and powerlessness. Blaming is really a backward way of putting off your commitments. When we blame others, we are in fact trying to put our burdens on others. So, stop procrastinating and take responsibility for those things that concern your life.

 9. Stop caring about what people think. It’s wise to seek counsel; it’s wise to be sensitive to the people around us. But obsession over others’ approval only serves to hinder our personal happiness. Take for example what Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher of Taoism says, “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” Let’s face it, mistakes are bound to happen. Not everyone will like you for their own reasons. Life is too short to be preoccupied by other folk’s junk. Live your life without constantly looking over your shoulders.

10. Stop skimping on your sleep. Sleep deprivation causes depression, weight gain, diabetes, decreased performance, alertness, and automotive injury. Turn in at regular times every night and take a power naps when you can in the day. If you have kids, get them to bed at 8pm and make it to bed shortly after. Try to get at least 7 hours sleep every night. It might even save your life.

11. Stop drinking too much. Every day in the U.S., 28 people die from motor accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver. That’s a death every 53 minutes according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Excessive drinking also increases the risks of liver diseases, depression, anxiety, stroke, cancer and much more. So stop.

12. Stop smoking. The other day, a friend of mine noted on Facebook that he had just returned from Jamaica, where he buried his younger brother due to lung cancer. Smoking increases the risk of heart diseases, cancer, high blood pressure, leukemia, stroke, emphysema, lung infections, infertility, and asthma. If you’re a habitual smoker, seek the aid of a medical professional. Enlist the support of family and friends and put the extra savings you will have to better use.

 

Helpful Notes 

  • Need a motivation with your decluttring projects or with simplifying your life? I’ll be launching a Simplicity Coaching Program. Stay tuned!
  • Congratulations to Denise. You are the winner of Clara’s book “What If It Were Possible?”  Congratulations to Kayla. You are the winner of Clara’s greeting cards.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to Going Uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

 

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7 Healthy Habits to Cultivate…Slowly

by Kelvin Belfon

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The older I get, the faster time seems to just fly away. It was only 10 weeks ago when I began to make plans for the upcoming year. I could not wait! Now it’s the middle of February with only 10 months in the year left. Ouch!

The same is true of my New Years resolutions. These commitments seem to just fly away. Each year I make my typical list…again: Spend more time with the family, pray more, gain weight (yeah, I know, but it’s true), become debt free, and so on.

Then the struggle to stay consistent usually begins around this time of year – February. The enthusiasm starts to slow down and eventually the well-intended promises never make it to the finish line.

The reality is that only 8% of people are successful at achieving their resolutions. Despite this fact, I keep making them, each year. Any accomplishment is better than a life without aspirations, I reasoned.

But over the last 2 years, I’ve made small changes. Instead of resolutions, I’ve decided to focus on cultivating healthy habits to change my lifestyle. The following are 7 habits I’ve been working on slowly.

7 Healthy Habits

Becoming an early riser. I’ve always been a nighthawk, consistently staying up past midnight. And that worked for most of my life. But now, the combination of longer workdays and caring for my little ones have left me exhausted at nights. The switch to rising early was a tough shift. I love sleeping in. But morning is the time when I can be most productive.

Embracing minimalism. In the last 13 years, I’ve accumulated quite a bit of material possessions. The majority has been gifted from my wedding; but later I acquired more on my own every time we relocated. It seems like there has always been a need to customize the new space with new things.

My decision to embrace a minimalist lifestyle has helped create more space, reduced time spent cleaning and caring for things, made our home eco-friendly, and minimized potential debt. But creating room for family and other valuable relationships has been the biggest benefit. In this area, I continue to grow.

Improving my health. I’ve become careless with my diet since moving to America. It’s been more processed foods instead of the normal raw fruits and vegetables. Junk food was cheaper and more convenient. In addition, my exercising routine was non-existent. Returning to a healthy habit of caring for my body was and continues to be a challenge. But I’m taking baby steps like walking more, jogging, and eating raw foods.

Fostering a lifelong learning passion. I had a library with over 5,000 books! But since graduate school, I began to read less, sometimes spending more precious time in front of that rectangular box – the television – than I ought to. Personal development doesn’t just happen by osmosis. So I’ve regained my commitment to reading regularly, exposing myself to new thoughts and ideas.

Establishing relationship boundaries. In the past, I lacked boundaries in my relationships. Because I love to please, I used to have a hard time saying no and letting people know how I really felt. As a result, this was perceived as weakness. I allowed people to control and manipulate my life. It was toxic.

Ending certain relationships, although necessary, was pretty painful. Even so, establishing boundaries by saying no was extremely liberating. I even saw other benefits, such as the improvement of my physical health.

Confronting fears. I’ve never really mastered the English language. So I’ve really feared the idea of starting a blog and going public with my writing. The same was true about other major decisions like relocating, starting a new job slightly outside of the career I’d been used to, and, of course, ending toxic relationships. Fear is paralyzing! But I’m stepping out little by little to confront the unknown.

Practicing Contentment. I must admit, I keep wanting just a little more each week, each month and each year. My wants are typical like a house, car, clothing, electronics, etc. The problem is that no one’s ever truly satisfied once we start going past the basics. We want the best, biggest and the latest.

The habit of contentment is learning that more doesn’t equate happiness. It’s accepting yourself, avoiding meaningless comparisons with others, and living a life of gratitude that brings fulfillment. Sounds good, but I struggle to practice everyday.

Cultivate with the right motivation

The above habits are not exhaustive.

They are strategies you take along your journey, not the final destination. Becoming an early riser is not the goal. On the contrary, the goal is to give the most productive hours of the day to achieving those things in life that are musts.

Moreover, becoming health conscious is more than loosing weight. The greater motivation is to avoid preventable diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart attacks. This enables us to be around a little longer for our loved ones.

…Slowly 

When making resolutions, I used to give myself timetables. But the reality is, to make a habit become a lifestyle requires lots of time. I may need even a few years to get there.

We need time to cultivate new habits, and even more, to unlearn old ones. So lets give ourselves permission to go slow, fail, and restart again…all without condemnation, until we achieve what we desire to be.

What healthy habits are you cultivating in your life?

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to going uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

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From Being Taken to Giving

by Kelvin Belfon

from Taken to giving_image

I’m a little late in saying this, but… Happy New Year! I pray good health, wholeness, and much success for you and your family in 2015.

I took a blog Sabbatical in October of last year to care of a few personal matters. So in this post, I’d like to highlight top accomplishments and events from last year.

Blog Review

In 2014 Going Uncomplicated experienced lots of growth. Here’s what contributed to that boon:

I’m grateful for all your encouraging comments, emails, and Facebook and Twitter messages. Thank you for supporting me through the first year of goinguncomplicated.com!

Relocation Gone Bad

In August, our landlord informed us of his desire to sell the townhouse we were renting. Though we might have wanted more room since the birth of the twins, we chose to be content with 1600 sq. ft. and maintained a minimalist mindset about our living space. Anyhow, the thought of moving with 4 children was a nightmare.

But by the end of September, the townhouse was under contract and on October 1, we found an even smaller 3-bedroom townhouse in a village-like neighborhood filled with very nice amenities for rent. After the second walk through, we decided it was the place. We were excited.

But the “new” landlord became unreachable after we locked in the signed contract with a down payment and the move never happened. In short, we were scammed and suffered a tough financial loss.

Our New Home
We were tired, had no home in the docket and our cash was limited. Being scammed was a difficult lesson to learn. Yet my determined wife decided to go after the impossible. Two days before Thanksgiving, we became homeowners. It was, simply put,  a miracle.

We are extremely grateful! The family has more space. The kids have a backyard. We have a sense of stability. And more importantly, we are home.

I’ve recently been asked, “So can you still consider yourself a minimalist now that you’ve bought the stereotypical ‘house with the picket fence’”? I’ll have much more to say about the implications of our home ownership in upcoming blog articles.

Trip to Haiti

Two weeks after moving into our new home, I took an 8-day trip to Haiti. It was my third time on the island but this time was special. My work colleague and I visited some schools, an orphanage, and the feeding programs of Mercy and Sharing founded by Joe and Susie Krabacher. And as a bonus for coming alongside that non-profit, we had the honor of bringing encouragement and hope to so many amazing people we met along the way.

I love the people of Haiti. I enjoy the culture, food and their beautiful beaches. But the staff of Mercy and Sharing made for the most impressive part of the trip. Every day, these people care for abandon children and the disabled, individuals who would otherwise have no hope. The Krabachers and their team of workers truly serve from the heart.

John Bunyan said, “You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” This statement has become even more so true to me since my trip to Haiti.

In this life we’ll encounter disappointments. It’s inevitable. The key is to learn and fight through them. Be grateful and when possible help those in need.

More soon….

 

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Identifying Mental Clutter

by Kelvin Belfon

Identifying Mental Clutter2

I love music. Calypso, soca, salsa, dance hall, reggae, and country were all in my upbringing. Reggae is one of my favorites.

The influence of Bob Marley in the Caribbean is so strong that it’s felt all throughout the world. Redemption Song is one of the most popular Marley songs known internationally. In certain life situations I find myself repeating parts of it over and over: Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.

You’ve heard it! Though the original context of the song is slavery, there is so much more here. First, this song is a cry for freedom from the entanglements that clutter our thoughts and weigh us down. Intentional action and personal responsibility is key to change in its message; none but ourselves can free our minds.

When I first set out to simplify my life, I knew the area between my ears had to be addressed, not just the tangible stuff I own. The brain is a beautiful organ; yet, it can absorb quite a bit of clutter. It’s the storage for everything, the good, bad, and the ugly.

Moreover, unlike physical junk, de-cluttering the mind is not a simple task. Our thoughts are not something we can collect, box and drop off at the local thrift store. Oh, how I wish we could! The good news is that it’s not impossible to get rid of emotional baggage. We can find clarity in our thoughts. The key is identifying mental clutter or junky thinking that’s going on. The following are the ones that have at least plagued my mind.

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Things that Clutter the Mind

Self-Sabotaging Tendencies – It’s true, sometimes we are our worst enemy, criticizing and doubting our own abilities. We self-destruct by either coming up with reasons why we can’t do something or by predicting a negative outcome. The truth: We are enough; we are competent and capable of doing anything.

Past Hurts/Failures – Human tendency is to monumentalize our past mistakes, pains and failures. We rehearse them till they have become larger than life, till we are discouraged or depressed by the very thought of them. The truth: Our best days are still to come. The past doesn’t have to determine our tomorrow.

Other People’s Expectations – We ask, “What will they think?”  The opinions of our parents, spouses, siblings, friends, teachers, or mentors can easily haunt and debilitate some of us to no end. Even as adults, those early childhood influencers are still so strong in our minds. The truth: You’ll never be able to please everyone. So live your life!

Perfectionism – Like the above tendency, perfectionism is rooted in pleasing others. It stunts our creativity, consumes our thoughts in the minutia and creates an unhealthy obsession to do everything right all the time. Truth: Give yourself the freedom to fail and make mistakes; and punch perfectionism in the face.

Unforgiveness – We can’t just “forget about it” like some of our friends would like to encourage us to do. But left unchecked, unforgiveness leads to bitterness and bondage. It too is an invisible enemy that slowly erodes us. Truth: “When we forgive, we free ourselves from the tie that binds us to the one who hurt us. We become liberated.” – Claire Franzier-Yzaguirre

Regretful Feeling – Have you ever said, “If only I had gone to that school, taken that job, married that person or done whatever…”? All of this line of questioning steals our joy and robs us from our present. There’s no point to dwelling on the past. Truth: You have more power to influence the unwritten future than your past, which is now history. Life is constantly changing. Staying flexible opens us up to new opportunities.

Fear of the Unknown – Fear is not always a bad thing. It’s helped me avoid lots of dangerous situations. But there is an unhealthy fear that creates indecisiveness, procrastination, avoidance of trying new things, and accomplishing bold dreams. The “What If” syndrome is a crippling decision making tactic. Truth: Inform yourself with the facts. Then expose yourself to others knowledgeable in the area you are considering. Finally, take action! You’ll find in most cases that your fears are not as bad as what you made them out to be.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to going uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

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The Importance of Staying Flexible

by Kelvin Belfon

Staying Flexible

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” ~ Albert Einstein

Two days ago I celebrated my 39th birthday. A lot has changed over the years. When I was 9 years old, my teacher, back in Venezuela, asked the class to draw a picture of what each student wanted to be. It was easy, I wanted to be un maestro (a teacher)!

Since then, I’ve dreamt of becoming a professional cricket player, working in a Spanish embassy as a translator in some foreign country, being a pastor, a banker and even a business owner.

Along with these ambitions, a few unexpected life events also happened. I’ve lived in 3 different countries (Grenada, Venezuela, and now the US) and visited over 10 others. I earned a Master’s degree in my field a few years back. And the mother of all unpredicted accomplishments…I’m husband and father to what is considered in this country, a large family.

Marriage was never on my radar. When it happened, I cried during the ceremony from pure joy. Camilla and I didn’t have plans for children either. And we didn’t try to get pregnant for the first 8 years. Today, we have a 6-year old boy, a 3-year old girl and 4-month-old boy/girl twins. It’s funny how you change over tim.

I think it goes without saying that over the past 39 years, one of the key lessons of life I’ve learned is the importance of staying flexible.

Life Is No Smooth Sail

Life is not constant. Change should be expected as a normal process with lots of ups and downs, losses, disappointments, and victories. I struggled with this concept when I was younger. But now I’ve become more open to handling life’s uncertainties with maturity.

A rigid or inflexible mind causes frustration, unrealistic expectations, constant feelings of regret and unhappiness about your current state of being. Inflexibility may also lead to stubbornness and keep us stuck in the past. Over the last year or so, I’ve stumbled upon a handful of great opportunities that I fear I might have missed had I taken the stubborn route.

The Importance of  Staying Flexible

Staying Flexible is liberating and gives us more choices. If something doesn’t work one way, having the courage to consider another option is what I consider true freedom.

Staying Flexible helps us turn obstacles into opportunities. What may appear as a delay or detour sometimes can really be new possibilities and teachable moments in disguise.

Staying Flexible helps us avoid the tendency to make unnecessary comparisons with others. Like, for example that profile picture of your old high school friend on Facebook, who you perceive to be successful. Yes, that’s the kind of comparison that causes us to wrongly ask ourselves, “What’s wrong with me? Why haven’t I accomplished this status by now?” This kind of mindset is unfair to you.

Staying Flexible helps us embrace the present. So, you are now on your fourth career option. So what? Keep following after your dreams but remain fluid and adaptable if a change really becomes necessary. Living in the past, constantly rehearsing the what could have beens of life will only steal your joy and your right to a life marked by inner peace and personal freedom.

So stay Flexible!

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