It is too a word! I’m an English teacher…don’t make me get out my reference books and red pen. ;) But I digress.
As I read through the comments and messages on my Facebook page, as I scroll through posts from my friends and colleagues, as I listen to the strife in the voices of those I love, I find myself thinking a few of the same things over and over. There are ways to lessen the stress you are feeling, especially since a good bit of that stress is needlessly self-inflicted. With this post, I’m giving you the permission you might not have understood you already had to release these stressors and live a zenner life.
Don’t Read the Comments
I constantly see people get all worked up over the comments at the end of articles online or in threads on pages or groups they like. For the sake of your sanity, once the article has ended, stop scrolling, click the ‘x’ and move on to the next. Do not, I repeat, do not read the comments. They’re inevitably going to peeve you. Without a doubt, they’re going to be too mainstream for you, they’re going to be too narrow-minded for you, they’re going to be abso-toot-a-lutely maddening. And please, please, please, if you’re going to leave a comment, do so independently, not in effort to save those poor souls who are so misguided. Do not engage with the crazies, because then you become one.
Avoid the Big Groups
I cannot tell you how life-saving this has been for me. There are groups for cloth diaperers, lactivists, intactivists, and every other parenting niche and human rights cause out there. If you value your sanity, avoid them. This is where people go to complain, stir the pot, complain again, give the pot a couple more hearty stirs, and complain yet again that the pot is being stirred either too much or not enough. These groups do not help you do your job, save babies, be a better parent, or heal the world’s wounds. These groups do help you cry, scream, type in all caps far too often, become enemies with people you’ve never even met, lose hair, lose sleep, lose your mind. If you’re in these groups, get out. If you’re not, good lookin’ out.
Don’t Friend Willy-Nilly
Just because someone friend requests you, shares multiple friends with you, and has a cute name and Timeline banner, does not mean you are required to accept their request. Do you know them? Do you wish to know them? (The answer is no, otherwise you would’ve requested them.) Do you work with them? (That’s a whole other post. Don’t friend coworkers. Fair warning. It seems fine now, but one day it’ll come back to bite you…) Why accept them into your world then? It’s really OK to not be the most popular one on Facebook. Nobody who matters is really counting.
Purge, Don’t Binge
For heaven’s sake, locate the ‘unfriend’ button and use it…regularly. Being friends with someone for a year in elementary school does not require you to be tethered to them for life via the interweb. If you do not regularly communicate with a person, share much of your DNA with a person, or use a person for what they can do for you (and please don’t do that…it’s just not nice or zen), delete them. You don’t have to keep everyone you’ve ever had on your Facebook friends list. People can come and go. You can outgrow each other. You can move on in your life and they in theirs. It’s natural, it’s normal, it’s really going to be OK. Step away from the “friend” and step nearer to your simpler, zenner life.
Step Away From the Smart Phone
The phone, believe it or not, is not another appendage. It is a silly little electronic device designed to keep you from your real life. You are glued to it like a piece of macaroni to a 4th graders art project and it’s getting to be a little scary. What would happen if you didn’t have access to your Facebook, Tweetymabob, Pissy Birdies, or whatever else you do on that thing all day? Might you spend more time with the actual people right in front of you rather than those in your virtual reality? Would that be such a bad thing? Would it physically hurt you to not answer a message or comment on your latest shared quote graphic the moment it came in? Do yourself a favor and downgrade to a regular ol’ cell phone. You don’t have to get all Zack Morris with the big 90s monstrosity, but a little cell phone that can just make calls and maybe, maybe text would suffice. Your wallet and loved ones will thank you.
Remember, It’s Not Real Life
This is just the internet, folks. It’s not your real life. Your real life is out there. Get to it. Shut things down. When things get crazy here, ask yourself how much it really, truly matters. I’m going to go out on a limb and say much of what is making you unzen on the information superhighway is probably just a bunch of piffle and tush and is best left to those who prefer the road to the padded cell.
There you have it – your beginners guide to living a zenner life. The advanced course “How to Live an Even Zennerer Life” will be scheduled later this year. In the meantime, enjoy, simplify, and go play outside with your kids. They’re way more fun than anything I have to offer here anyway.