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Simple Start

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This year I’m going to try to take control of my life by keeping things simple.

That’s my New Year’s resolution for 2015. I know it doesn’t sound like much but all the same I don’t think simple is going to be easy.

That likelihood became painfully clear in my first attempt to develop this column from that fairly short opening line.

Actually, the lead was two words shorter back then but that was the only thing about the piece that was straight forward.

In this second attempt I’ve inserted ‘try to’ in front of ‘take control’ to make the resolution more realistic.

What I did in my first go was try to limit how I was going to improve my life to spending more of my free time doing things instead of watching them on TV, and then I tried to simplify that idea by just applying it to sports.

Then I backtracked and pointed out that there are positive sides to watching top athletes perform before getting into the potential dangers of becoming a couch potato and falling victim to the ‘us against them’ mentality of sports fanatics.

Within the first 200 words it was getting extremely complicated; the exact opposite of what I intended.

So now I’ve decided to ramble on instead about how difficult it is to keep things simple.

I think part of the problem comes from the outside, from the society we live in.

Most of us have so many choices and an awful lot of money goes into marketing things we don’t need.

That was particularly obvious during the run up to Christmas.

But I believe the bigger problem is inside our own heads.

Our minds love to wander or follow some external lead; that’s why TV is so addictive and advertising is so effective.

If you are ‘connected’, you probably know how difficult it is to just look up one piece of information on the net.

Most of us get sucked in by related links or by targeted advertising and before we know it we are doing things we never intended to do.

Sure, phones, computers and the internet can be valuable tools that can be used to make our lives easier, but they can also take over our lives.

All this has led me to the conclusion that I am going to have to work bloody hard if I want to accomplish my resolution but I’m fairly certain that the first thing I need to do is increase my awareness.

Fortunately there are guidelines I can follow to accomplish that.

Most religions use some form of ritual to help achieve a peaceful mental state, and there are disciplines such as yoga and the martial arts that are a bit more up front about how physical activity can be used to focus the mind.

The same can be said about most sports and there are plenty of books that deal with the mental side of competitive performance.

Then there are forms of meditation that skip the physical aids.

Yes, there are plenty of options out there and I’ve scratched the surface of quite a few of them.

All I need to do is limit my options and concentrate on one of two of them.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?