If You Want to Make a Change, Think About the Inside First

A friend of mine wants to learn to cook. Right now, she doesn’t cook at all – she’s gotten by just fine without it, but in this new season of her life, she feels like it’s time. The problem is really with why she feels like she can’t cook. She’s totally overwhelmed at where to even begin: what should she learn first? Should she memorize recipes? Learn techniques? Become familiar with common spices?

In addition to being totally overwhelmed with how to begin, my friend is prone to perfectionism. She’s highly detail-oriented, too, so the thought of not following a recipe perfectly, of not cutting the carrots into perfectly even segments, of just getting things wrong, is holding her back.

I can sympathize! Perfectionism can be paralyzing. In my ongoing quest to let go of my own perfectionism, I’ve learned to let myself be a beginner, to improve slowly by just doing things frequently, and to allow myself to be bad at things without ultimately sacrificing excellence.

But there’s another thing I’ve been learning lately: any outer change I want has to be tied to an inner change as well.

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5 Easy, Practical Steps to Get Rid of Bad Habits

Do you ever find yourself making the same mistakes over and over? Or getting stressed about the same sorts of things, time and again? It’s hard to learn what we want to change if we aren’t in the habit of reflecting on our lives – but even if we are, we need to have the courage and clarity to get rid of bad habits.

Just getting rid of a bad habit out of the blue, on our own, isn’t easy: but it certainly can be easier if we take practical steps to remove some of the factors around why we keep making the same mistakes. (And by “mistakes” I don’t only mean morally bad decisions, but also behaviors that leave us feeling exhausted, stressed, or unhappy because they don’t serve the major priorities we’ve set for our lives.)

Here are 5 practical steps to help you get rid of bad habits, with clear examples of how to follow them easily.

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3 Monastic Practices that Will Improve Your Work Life

I’ve always loved monasteries: the silence, the peacefulness, the feeling of being “away” from the world. There’s something deeply satisfying about going on retreat to a monastery and being able to leave worries about work, home, studies, or plans of any kind, behind.

Stepping into a “sacred space” offers freedom from the daily stress of life.

When St. Benedict wrote his monastic “Rule” in the 6th century AD, he codified a way of living that would last through the centuries, down to current day. While most of us can’t retreat to a monastery on a regular basis, bringing the rhythm of monastic life into my own is something from which I’ve benefited greatly. It’s helped me to focus on clear priorities, reduce stress, and be more peaceful in general.

Here are three ways I’ve found we can integrate monastic practices into our work lives.

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7 Simple Ways to Have More Peace

In our world of constant political tweets and nagging notifications, peace can feel elusive. The low-grade static of social comparison and personal dissatisfaction hums irritatingly throughout our days. It can scratch at our souls, leaving us uncomfortable without knowing exactly why.

It’s difficult to stop hurrying and embrace silence and its many benefits – one of which is greater peace: not just in our schedules, but in our souls.

Here are seven practical tips to help you have more peace.

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Get Out of Your Own Head With Some Self-Reflection

Socrates is famous for saying that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” But how many of us take time to really examine our lives? We might pause for a moment before making new year’s resolutions, but in the day-to-day, most of us end up hurrying from one place to another without making a lot of room for silence.

You may think: even if I did have time for silence, I wouldn’t want to spend it constantly thinking about myself. Self-reflection may seem like an unhealthy egoistic obsession, a kind of navel-gazing that makes us worse people, not better.

The thing is, that’s not true self-reflection: that’s rumination.

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