Simplify with Better Habits: The Discipline of Minding One’s Own Business

It’s taken me a while to get this one published; honestly, this is my fourth iteration of this post. Every time I wrote one, it either seemed too sanctimonious, too petty, or too self-deprecating to be useful. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had several experiences that left me confronted with both other people’s hurtfulness and my own shortcomings (more the latter than the former, unfortunately), and I thought I’d write about it since it’s becoming one of my “projects” in this journey to simplify life.

Don’t you love being “in the know?” I sure do. If I overhear some gossip, I’m curious as to what’s going on. If someone’s upset, I want to know why. If there’s heaviness and tension in the air, I want to know the cause. And along the same lines, I struggle with wanting to insert myself into conversations. If I overhear two people discussing something I’m interested in, or something in which I have helpful knowledge, my compulsion is to hop (uninvited) into the conversation and offer my insight, or experience, or the answer to the question they’re looking for. If someone needs help, I want to help them, sometimes even if it’s something that’s not my place to help with.

Do you ever find yourself wondering what people may be saying about you when you’re not around? I absolutely do. But here’s the problem with that: people don’t pay nearly as much attention to you as you think they do, which means that, if they ARE talking about you when you’re not around, it’s not usually a discussion of how sweet you are or how good you are at something. It’s often negative. A few weeks ago, I found out that someone I’m relatively close to snarked about one of my physical aspects behind my back. After I got over being pissed and feeling a little betrayed, it got me thinking. Why on earth would someone feel the need to criticize my appearance to someone they didn’t know well enough to realize they’d share that with me? Why does my appearance matter to someone else anyway (unless it’s impeding their life somehow)? But even more importantly: do I do that too? And, the unfortunate answer is yes, yes I have. Just as this other person should’ve been paying less attention to my business, thereby not ultimately tainting my feelings toward her, I should be minding my own business enough to keep from making that same mistake with others.

This article from Tiny Buddha offers insight; this preoccupation with others’ business makes us depressed, and removes our focus from learning to find contentment and thrive in our own circumstances.

The Bible tells us, literally, to mind our own business (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

The desire to know is natural; it’s part of being human. But just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

Minding my own business is a habit I’m seeking to instill in my simple-living journey. Ditching Facebook has been a wonderful start, and I’m hopeful that, as I continue to pare down things that create needless stress, I’ll have less of an urge to focus on the things that do.

Is this an area of your life that you need to work on, too? Will you join me?

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Twenty Fourteen, the Year of Discipline

About halfway through 2012, I dubbed the year my year of “healing.” I was able to escape my soul-sucking job with a company that didn’t care about me and moved over to a place with much better pay and a better environment. I thought that would be the turning point…the magical moment when I started to care about myself and everything that was wrong with me would get better. It didn’t quite work that way.

Last year I dubbed my year of “peace.” While it wasn’t entirely peaceful, I did learn a lot about setting personal boundaries and standing up for myself. I didn’t make the health strides that I wanted to, but I did finally get myself to the place where I was ready to take the steps. The end of the year wasn’t peaceful at all, because of things both within and beyond my control, so I still have a lot to learn.

I’ve noticed that I suck at long lists of resolutions. I fail at one and give the rest up (and then go eat some General Tso’s Chicken). But this one-word-focus thing seems to be at least partially successful.

I noticed a recurring theme in several of my Bible studies at the beginning of the year…The idea that our spiritual (and physical) health lean heavily on personal responsibility and self-discipline. We can’t always do what we want, eat what we want, say what we want….sometimes we have to do things because they are good for us, and we cannot expect to be at our best if we ignore what we should do because it’s not what we want.

You can’t expect to lose weight while eating takeout every night and refusing to exercise. You can’t expect to have a neat, organized home if you’re not willing to clean regularly. You can’t expect to have meaningful relationships if you don’t invest time with people you care about. You can’t expect to be respected if you don’t stand up for yourself. And you can’t expect to have a successful spiritual life if you don’t talk to God and crack open the Good Book.

These are all things I struggle with, and these are all things that I want to improve this year. This is the year of Discipline.