Monday, April 18, 2016

7 Little Ways to Make Life Simpler

1. Identify what’s most important, and eliminate the rest. – This may sound like a drastic measure to some, but it’s really not. Today will quickly fill up with time-wasting activities if you aren’t careful. Thus, you must remember that being productive isn’t just about getting things done – it’s also about leaving things undone. The simplicity and efficiency of today relies heavily on the elimination of non-essential tasks. You must identify what’s most important to you, and then eliminate as much as you possibly can of everything else.

2. Declutter your physical space. – Decluttering your physical space not only makes things more organized, but it also leads to a less cluttered mental space. The visual distractions in your environment pull on you and distract you in more ways than you likely realize. If you’re holding on to things you don’t need, let go and donate them to someone who does. Give yourself some extra breathing room. And remember, it’s not just how many (or how few) things you own that matters – it’s whether you make those things count. For example, it’s better to have three great books on your bookshelf that you’re actually going to read rather than 300 that only take up space.

3. Schedule at least one distraction-free time block each day. – Distractions are nothing more than complications. So once you know you’re focusing on what’s important, and your space is relatively clutter-free, eliminating all distractions for a set time while you work is one of the most effective ways to get things done. Just lock your door, put a sign up, turn off your phone, close your email application, disconnect your internet connection, whatever it takes. You can’t remain in hiding forever, but you can be twice as peaceful and twice as productive while you are.

4. Leave space between everything on your to-do list. – It’s tempting to fill in every waking minute of the day with tasks. Don’t do this to yourself. Leave space. The space between the things you do is just as important as the things you do. Remember, your overarching goal is living a life uncluttered by most of the things people fill their lives with, leaving you with space for what’s truly important. A life that isn’t constant busyness, rushing and stress, but instead mindful contemplation, creation and connection with people and projects that bring meaning into your life.

5. Disconnect from the drama. – When your day gets stressful and the people around you aren’t helping, keep in mind that the battle you’re going through is never fueled by the things other people do; it is fueled by your mind that gives these things importance. Even if you have a good reason to be angry and resentful, don’t. Channel your energy into thoughts and actions that actually benefit your life – build positive daily rituals that build YOU. And as you move forward positively, remember, there is a huge amount of simplicity and freedom that comes into your life when you take nothing personally.

6. Let go of life’s uncontrollable outcomes. – When you attempt to control too much, you complicate things, and thus you enjoy too little. Sometimes you just need to let go, take a deep breath and love what is. Make mistakes, learn from the realities around you, laugh about it all and then move along. Waste not a minute on outcomes you can’t control. This, I’ve learned, is the best way to be in all walks of life… You can stop trying to change people, and just let go and dissolve into their presence – just notice who they truly are, just appreciate every idiosyncratic quirk. You can stop complaining about your life circumstances, about your losses, about how the world is, and just let go and love what is. Just be. Just accept. Just appreciate.

7. Reflect on the goodness. – One of the primary reasons we complicate our lives is because we become ungrateful. We lose our enthusiasm and then we go looking for it in all the wrong places. We think we need more of everything to find it again, when in fact we need less. We need less clutter, less distraction, less drama and less busyness, so we can create the space we once had to appreciate what we have. And what we have is always more than enough. Reflect on this. Never let all the things you want make you forget about all the things you have. Consider how very fortunate you are. Consider it every day.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Fixing Nigeria: The Place of Common Sense

Nothing more aptly sums up the despondency currently felt by Nigerians than the video of a frustrated Nigerian man sitting on the roof top of his taxi in one of the monstrous fuel queues in Lagos. When interviewed on what he thought of the current difficulties facing the nation, he responded in Yoruba ‘It is better all of us just died. Not a few, we should all just die and end this once and for all.’ The video went viral on Instagram and while I’m not sure a vast majority of Nigerians even with all the perils bedeviling the nation will want to die, the video was a rude reminder of how deteriorating our national life has become that death is even considered a suitable escape route.

It is a shame that in the midst of these perilous times, the national political discourse has been a verbal slugfest between the so-called wailers and the #IstandwithBuhari disciples. Tragically, this is the vicious circle of our political contemplations nowadays. It is never about the issues, it is always about those who want the president to fail because in their universe a certain Goodluck Jonathan was the best thing to have happened to Nigeria since creation, and those who believe that President Buhari remains the messiah to deliver us into the Promised Land. The energy devoted by these bi-polar apostles in driving home their point almost defies belief. And in the midst of this political tirade, we are almost a nation in comatose.

I belong to the school of thought that say it’s still early days to pass judgment on the administration of president Buhari and the jury will still be out for a while on that. However, the early days and signs of delivering a ‘Change’ he so equivocally dangled before us during the electioneering period remains doubtful on so many evidences of today. As captured by Okey Ndibe in his article recently ‘The evidence is that, for all the years he spent running for the office of the Nigerian president, Mr. Buhari had little or no vision of the direction he intended to move the country. He took more than four months to produce a list of his ministers, and turned out to be a predictable and tepid cabinet. That timetable said something about the man and his state craft.’

For all his commitment in waging the war against corruption, President Buhari must realize that fighting corruption is not an end in itself. A corrupt free state is only part of a jigsaw that will translate into delivering a system where the dividends of democracy will be delivered to the people. Yet, as Femi Falana noted recently, he is not winning this war. Building firm institutions and a reform of the judicial system to position it in combating corruption is the answer. Our courts as they currently are, are ill-equipped to effectively see this battle through, and are infested by an avalanche of dubious clauses and crooked men in wig that will cower under the weight of a political heavyweight. Until this is done, corruption will always fight back, with venom.

It is not rocket science to fix Nigeria. While we all know that the recuperating period of a nation that is economically and socially on her knees will take some time, Nigerians should not be made to agonizingly suffer, before seeing the happy days. As a people, we have gone through a lot already. President Buhari must realize that whatever reforms and policies he chooses to pursue, no matter how genuinely intended they might be, must have a human face to it and not leave the citizenry in greater quagmire. While the thorough revival of Nigeria will take a while, palliatives and quick wins are expected in the short term. There are lots of quick wins that ought to have been made by this administration. The establishment of anti-corruption courts, a refurbishment of the transport system, electoral sanity, re-orientation campaigns and the formulation of a holistic economic policy are not unconventional and ingenious ideas in the short-term. These are few points of references that this government could have, and can still use in registering early lead on the scoreboard while the huge issues of tackling unemployment and sanitizing the Petroleum sector remains work in progress. As a matter of fact, during the recent fuel crises that crippled the nation, there were palliative measures the government should have considered. Fuel rationing and flooding the main cities with sponsored transport vehicles to provide an alternative to commuters wouldn’t have been a novel idea. Moreover, while the queues were overwhelming, an efficient Road safety agency and security operatives could have helped to ease the traffic logjam that was a consequence of the scarcity.

The point remains that this government is too reactive in dealing with the issues confronting the nation. It might not have created the plethora of problems, but it was voted in to fix it. Those in government should be under no illusion or ever conceive the condescending idea that they are doing the people a favour. In a country of over 170 million people, government officials must count themselves fortunate to be steering the national ship. Our country surely needs fixing on many levels, but it is not rocket science. President Buhari must show an enhanced will, the three tiers of government must display an urgency in action and we the people must wake up from the delusion that one man will conjure a magic wand that will bring uhuru and el dorado overnight.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

7 Things to Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

1. Pain is part of growing.
Sometimes life closes doors because it’s time to move forward. And that’s a good thing because we often won’t move unless circumstances force us to. When times are tough, remind yourself that no pain comes without a purpose. Move on from what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you. Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing. Every great success requires some type of worthy struggle to get there. Good things take time. Stay patient and stay positive. Everything is going to come together; maybe not immediately, but eventually.
Remember that there are two kinds of pain: pain that hurts and pain that changes you. When you roll with life, instead of resisting it, both kinds help you grow.

2. Everything in life is temporary.
Every time it rains, it stops raining. Every time you get hurt, you heal. After darkness there is always light – you are reminded of this every morning, but still you often forget, and instead choose to believe that the night will last forever. It won’t. Nothing lasts forever.
So if things are good right now, enjoy it. It won’t last forever. If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either. Just because life isn’t easy at the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh. Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile. Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending. You get a second chance, every second. You just have to take it and make the best of it.
3. Worrying and complaining changes nothing.
Those who complain the most, accomplish the least. It’s always better to attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed. It’s not over if you’ve lost; it’s over when you do nothing but complain about it. If you believe in something, keep trying. Don’t let the shadows of the past darken the doorstep of your future. Spending today complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow any brighter. Take action instead. Let what you’ve learned improve how you live. Make a change and never look back.
And regardless of what happens in the long run, remember that true happiness begins to arrive only when you stop complaining about your problems and you start being grateful for all the problems you don’t have.

4. Your scars are symbols of your strength.

Don’t ever be ashamed of the scars life has left you with. A scar means the hurt is over and the wound is closed. It means you conquered the pain, learned a lesson, grew stronger, and moved forward. A scar is the tattoo of a triumph to be proud of. Don’t allow your scars to hold you hostage. Don’t allow them to make you live your life in fear. You can’t make the scars in your life disappear, but you can change the way you see them. You can start seeing your scars as a sign of strength and not pain.
Rumi once said, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most powerful characters in this great world are seared with scars. See your scars as a sign of “YES! I MADE IT! I survived and I have my scars to prove it! And now I have a chance to grow even stronger.”

5. Every little struggle is a step forward.
In life, patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard on your dreams, knowing that the work is worth it. So if you’re going to try, put in the time and go all the way. Otherwise, there’s no point in starting. This could mean losing stability and comfort for a while, and maybe even your mind on occasion. It could mean not eating what, or sleeping where, you’re used to, for weeks on end. It could mean stretching your comfort zone so thin it gives you a nonstop case of the chills. It could mean sacrificing relationships and all that’s familiar. It could mean accepting ridicule from your peers. It could mean lots of time alone in solitude. Solitude, though, is the gift that makes great things possible. It gives you the space you need. Everything else is a test of your determination, of how much you really want it.

6. Other people’s negativity is not your problem.
Be positive when negativity surrounds you. Smile when others try to bring you down. It’s an easy way to maintain your enthusiasm and focus. When other people treat you poorly, keep being you. Don’t ever let someone else’s bitterness change the person you are. You can’t take things too personally, even if it seems personal. Rarely do people do things because of you. They do things because of them.
Above all, don’t ever change just to impress someone who says you’re not good enough. Change because it makes you a better person and leads you to a brighter future. People are going to talk regardless of what you do or how well you do it. So worry about yourself before you worry about what others think. If you believe strongly in something, don’t be afraid to fight for it. Great strength comes from overcoming what others think is impossible. All jokes aside, your life only comes around once. This is IT. So do what makes you happy and be with whoever makes you smile, often.

7. The best thing you can do is to keep going.
Don’t be afraid to get back up – to try again, to love again, to live again, and to dream again. Don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart. Life’s best lessons are often learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes. There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong. And you might feel like you will be stuck in this rut forever, but you won’t. When you feel like quitting, remember that sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right. Sometimes you have to go through the worst, to arrive at your best.