How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps – by Kate Bartolotta, Huffington Post
The covers of most men’s and women’s magazines have similar headlines: “Get Great Abs” and “Have Amazing Sex.”
From the looks of it, these two issues have been recycled over and over (with some other stereotypically gender-relevant articles thrown in) on every Men’s Health, Maxim, Cosmopolitan and Glamour cover since the dawn of time. In fact, I’d bet that if we could get a better translation of cave drawings, they would read something like “Grok get flat belly. Make girl Grok moan with joy.”
And we keep buying them. We keep buying this lie that these things will make us happy. I’ve had washboard abs (past tense) and I’ve had some pretty phenomenal sex. Neither one made me a better person. Neither one completed me or made my life more fulfilling.
We chase this idea of “I will be happy when… “
I will be happy when I have a new car. I will be happy when I get married. I will be happy when I get a better job. I will be happy when I lose five pounds. What if instead we choose to be happy — right now?
If you can read this, your life is pretty awesome.
Setting aside our first-world problems and pettiness, if you are online reading this, you have both electricity and WiFi or access to them. Odds are you are in a shelter of some sort, or on a smart phone (and then kudos to you for reading this on the go). Life might bump and bruise us, it may not always go the way we plan and I know I get frustrated with mine, but here’s the thing: You are alive.
Because you are alive, everything is possible. So about those eight tips…
1. Stop believing your bullshit.
All that stuff you tell yourself about how you are a commitment phobe or a coward or lazy or not creative or unlucky? Stop it. It’s bullshit, and deep down you know it. We are all insecure 14 year olds at heart. We’re all scared. We all have dreams inside of us that we’ve tucked away because somewhere along the line we tacked on those ideas about who we are that buried that essential brilliant, childlike sense of wonder. The more we stick to these scripts about who we are, the longer we live a fraction of the life we could be living. Let it go. Be who you are beneath the bullshit.
2. Be happy now.
Not because The Secret says so. Not because of some shiny happy Oprah crap. But because we can choose to appreciate what is in our lives instead of being angry or regretful about what we lack. It’s a small, significant shift in perspective. It’s easier to look at what’s wrong or missing in our lives and believe that is the big picture — but it isn’t. We can choose to let the beautiful parts set the tone.
3. Look at the stars.
It won’t fix the economy. It won’t stop wars. It won’t give you flat abs, or better sex or even help you figure out your relationship and what you want to do with your life. But it’s important. It helps you remember that you and your problems are both infinitesimally small and conversely, that you are a piece of an amazing and vast universe. I do it daily — it helps.
4. Let people in.
Truly. Tell people that you trust when you need help, or you’re depressed — or you’re happy and you want to share it with them. Acknowledge that you care about them and let yourself feel it. Instead of doing that other thing we sometimes do, which is to play it cool and pretend we only care as much as the other person has admitted to caring, and only open up half way. Go all in — it’s worth it.
5. Stop with the crazy making.
I got to a friend’s doorstep the other day, slightly breathless and nearly in tears after getting a little lost, physically and existentially. She asked what was wrong and I started to explain and then stopped myself and admitted, “I’m being stupid and have decided to invent lots of problems in my head.” Life is full of obstacles; we don’t need to create extra ones. A great corollary to this one is from The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz: Don’t take things personally. Most of the time, other people’s choices and attitudes have absolutely nothing to do with you. Unless you’ve been behaving like a jerk, in which case…
6. Learn to apologize. Not the ridiculous, self-deprecating apologizing for who you are and for existing that some people seem to do (what’s up with that, anyway?). The ability to sincerely apologize — without ever interjecting the word “but” — is an essential skill for living around other human beings. If you are going to be around other people, eventually you will need to apologize. It’s an important practice.
7. Practice gratitude.
Practice it out loud to the people around you. Practice it silently when you bless your food. Practice it often. Gratitude is not a first world only virtue. I saw a photo recently, of a girl in abject poverty, surrounded by filth and destruction. Her face was completely lit up with joy and gratitude as she played with a hula hoop she’d been given. Gratitude is what makes what we have enough. Gratitude is the most basic way to connect with that sense of being an integral part of the vastness of the universe; as I mentioned with looking up at the stars, it’s that sense of wonder and humility, contrasted with celebrating our connection to all of life.
8. Be kind.
Kurt Vonnegut said it best (though admittedly, and somewhat ashamedly — I am not a Vonnegut fan): “There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’”
Kindness costs us nothing and pays exponential dividends. I can’t save the whole world. I can’t bring peace to Syria. I can’t fix the environment or the health care system, and from the looks of it, I may end up burning my dinner.
But I can be kind.
If the biggest thing we do in life is to extend love and kindness to even one other human being, we have changed the world for the better.
That’s a hell of a lot more important than flat abs in my book.
- You cannot change what you refuse to confront.
- Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
- Buy the best quality you can afford.
- Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
- Too many people buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t know.
- No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
- If a person wants to be a part of your life, they will make an obvious effort to do so. Think twice before reserving a space in your heart for people who do not make an effort to stay.
- Making one person smile can change the world – maybe not the whole world, but their world.
- Saying someone is ugly doesn’t make you any prettier.
- The only normal people you know are the ones you don’t know very well.
- Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it.
- The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.
- It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company.
- As we grow up, we realize it becomes less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones.
- Making a hundred friends is not a miracle. The miracle is to make a single friend who will stand by your side even when hundreds are against you.
- Giving up doesn’t always mean you’re weak, sometimes it means you are strong enough and smart enough to let go and move on.
- Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, etc…
- If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.
- Don’t choose the one who is beautiful to the world; choose the one who makes your world beautiful.
- Falling in love is not a choice. To stay in love is.
- True love isn’t about being inseparable; it’s about two people being true to each other even when they are separated.
- While you’re busy looking for the perfect person, you’ll probably miss the imperfect person who could make you perfectly happy.
- Never do something permanently foolish just because you are temporarily upset.
- You can learn great things from your mistakes when you aren’t busy denying them.
- In life, if you don’t risk anything, you risk everything.
- When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.
- Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.
- There isn’t anything noble about being superior to another person. True nobility is in being superior to the person you once were.
- Trying to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.
- You will never become who you want to be if you keep blaming everyone else for who you are now.
- People are more what they hide than what they show.
- Sometimes people don’t notice the things others do for them until they stop doing them.
- Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do.
- Being alone does not mean you are lonely, and being lonely does not mean you are alone.
- Love is not about sex, going on fancy dates, or showing off. It’s about being with a person who makes you happy in a way nobody else can.
- Anyone can come into your life and say how much they love you. It takes someone really special to stay in your life and show how much they love you.
- Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion; today is special.
- Love and appreciate your parents. We are often so busy growing up, we forget they are also growing old.
- When you have to start compromising yourself and your morals for the people around you, it’s probably time to change the people around you.
- Learn to love yourself first, instead of loving the idea of other people loving you.
- When someone tells you, “You’ve changed,” it might simply be because you’ve stopped living your life their way.
- Someone else doesn’t have to be wrong for you to be right.
- Be happy. Be yourself. If others don’t like it, then let them be. Happiness is a choice. Life isn’t about pleasing everybody.
- When you’re up, your friends know who you are. When you’re down, you know who your friends are.
- Don’t look for someone who will solve all your problems; look for someone who will face them with you.
- If you expect the world to be fair with you because you are fair, you’re fooling yourself. That’s like expecting the lion not to eat you because you didn’t eat him.
- No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life. Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.
- The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.
- Many people are so poor because the only thing they have is money.
- Learn to appreciate the things you have before time forces you appreciate the things you once had.
- When you choose to see the good in others, you end up finding the good in yourself.
- You don’t drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there.
- It’s better to know and be disappointed than to never know and always wonder.
- There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go.
- Happiness is not determined by what’s happening around you, but rather what’s happening inside you. Most people depend on others to gain happiness, but the truth is, it always comes from within.
- If you tell the truth, it becomes a part of your past. If you lie, it becomes a part of your future.
- What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while.
- You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.
- Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out.
- If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
I saw a similar document a while ago, and I thought it made sense for me to create one for me. Much of my list is similar to the one I saw, and as such, I do not claim ownership to the content, but I agree with its sentiment and offer this modified list as a record of my beliefs.
I often hear atheists and skeptics get asked, “What do you believe in?” The question really asks “Since you don’t believe in God and religion, what values do you believe in or hold to?” My answer follows.
I believe in the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms contained within the Canadian Constitution, including and especially freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression (including freedom of the press and other media of communication); freedom of peaceful assembly; and freedom of association. In short, everyone has the right and the freedom to think, believe, and act as they choose, as long as those thoughts, beliefs and actions don’t infringe on other people’s equal rights and freedoms.
I believe in the inviolability of private property, the rule of law, and equal treatment under the law.
I believe in free will, free choice and moral and personal accountability.
I believe in truth seeking and truth telling.
I believe in trust and credibility.
I believe in the idea that you get what you give.
I believe in love, marriage and fidelity, and that they must not be subject to gender-based restrictions.
I believe in honour, loyalty, and commitment to family, friends and community.
I believe in forgiveness when it’s deserved or offered.
I believe in kindness, generosity, charity and service, especially voluntary aid to those in need.
I believe in the almost limitless capacity of human creativity and ingenuity for our species to flourish into the future on this planet and others.
I believe in science as the best method ever devised for understanding how the world works.
I believe in reason and logic and rationality as ways to answer questions and solve problems.
When a believer asks what I believe in, I’ll offer this list and then ask them “Why, what do you believe in?”
Keeping in mind that as an atheist, I don’t consider the Bible any kind of source of truth, but since most Christians do, I thought I’d point out something they might not have taken much time to think about.
The Israelites never saw or heard the first set of “commandments” God gave to Moses.
According to Exodus, the first book of the Pentateuch:
After leaving Egypt and drowning Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea (something else I doubt, but that’s for another time), the Israelites wandered around the desert for two or three months (The KJV says “in the third month;” see Exodus 19:1), they stopped in the wilderness of Sinai.
Having been called to come up the mountain, Moses went up to meet with God.
God told Moses:
You’ve seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I brought you to me on the wings of eagles. If you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my possession among all the people; for all the earth is mine, and to me you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This is what you should tell the Israelites. (Exodus 19:4-6)
Moses told everyone what God told him, and they said, in essence, “If he said it, we’ll do it.”
Moses went back to God and told him that he had a deal. God told Moses to consecrate the Israelites for the next two days and that they should wash their clothes because God would come down from the mountain on the third day. Nobody was to approach the mountain, and everyone was to abstain from sex (Exodus 19:10-15).
On the morning of the third day, the base of the mountain was covered in thick smoke from the fire of the presence of God. Moses called to God, and God answered Moses in thunder (Exodus 19:19), telling him to consecrate the mountain, to come up alone, and that the priests were to consecrate themselves and to keep everyone else away from the mountain.
God also told Moses to go back down and to return with his brother Aaron. When Moses returned, God gave them 613 laws, the first ten of which we commonly call ‘The Ten Commandments:’
- I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods before me;
- You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in Heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain;
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy;
- Honour your father and mother;
- You shall not kill;
- You shall not commit adultery;
- You shall not steal;
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour;
- You shall not covet anything that is your neighbour’s. (Exodus 20:2-17)
When Moses returned, he was carrying two stone tablets; the laws he’d been given (we can assume all 613, because he’d been up on the mountain for forty days and nights) were written on the tablets.
During Moses’ absence, the Israelites had started worshipping golden idols of calves. Moses pleaded to God to not punish the Israelites and to remember he had promised that he would give the Israelites their new land after all they’d put up with under the Egyptians (Exodus 32:11-14).
Moses then turned to the Israelites and smashed the tablets he’d been carrying. He called out for those who still sided with God to kill those who had turned away from God while he had been on the mountain. Some three thousand men died that day at the hands of the sons of Levi (Exodus 32:26-29), who moved to Moses’ side.
Moses asked to be ‘blotted out of God’s book’ for his failings; that’s why Moses didn’t get to cross the Jordan River. However, God replaced the stone tablets Moses had destroyed.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
The new tablets contained a different set of ‘commandments’ than the old tablets:
- You shall worship no other gods, for the Lord your God is a jealous God;
- You shall make for yourself no molten gods;
- The feast of unleavened bread (Passover) you shall keep;
- All that opens the womb is mine;
- Six days you shall work, but on the seventh you shall rest;
- You shall observe the feast of weeks (to commemorate the giving of the Torah);
- Three times in the year shall your males appear before the Lord God;
- You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven;
- The first fruits of each year belong to the Lord your God;
- You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk. (Exodus 34:14-26)
In Exodus 34:28, these are called the ‘ten commandments.’
The ‘original’ commandments are contained in Deuteronomy 5:6-21, but they are not referred to as commandments.
Easter is honoured by nearly all of contemporary Christianity to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The holiday often involves a church service at sunrise, a feast which includes an “Easter Ham,” decorated eggs and stories about rabbits. Where did all of these customs, which have nothing to do with the resurrection of Jesus, come from?
Here’s one theory, courtesy of Wikipedia and http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org.
Early professing Christians were not the only ones who celebrated a festival called Easter. Ishtar, pronounced “Easter,” was the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, war, love, and sex. Ishtar was also a day to commemorate the resurrection of one of their gods they called Tammuz.
Some explanation: Noah’s grandson Cush married a woman named Semiramis. They had a son they named Nimrod. After Cush died, Nimrod married Semiramis and became a god-man to the people, and Semiramis became the powerful Queen of ancient Babylon. Nimrod was eventually killed by an enemy, and his body was cut in pieces and sent to various parts of his kingdom. Semiramis had all of the parts gathered, but his penis could not be found. Semiramis claimed that Nimrod could not come back to life without it, and told the people of Babylon that Nimrod had ascended to the sun and was now to be called Baal, the sun god. Queen Semiramis also proclaimed that Baal would be present on earth in the form of a flame, whether candle or lamp, when used in worship.
It’s said that with the help of Satan, Semiramis set herself up as a goddess, claiming that she was immaculately conceived. She taught that the moon was a goddess that went through a 28-day cycle and ovulated when full. She further claimed that she came down from the moon in a giant moon egg that fell into the EuphratesRiver. This was to have happened at the time of the first full moon after the spring equinox. Semiramis became known as Ishtar which is pronounced “Easter,” and her moon egg became known as “Ishtar’s egg.” Ishtar soon became pregnant and claimed that it was the rays of the sun-god Baal that caused her to conceive. Her son Tammuz was noted to be especially fond of rabbits, and they became sacred in Ishtar’s religion, because Tammuz was believed to be the son of the sun-god, Baal.
Tammuz, like Nimrod, loved to hunt but was killed by a wild pig while hunting. Queen Ishtar told the people that Tammuz was now ascended to his father, Baal, and that the two of them would be with the worshippers in the sacred candle or lamp flame as Father, Son and Spirit. Ishtar, who was now worshipped as the “Mother of God and Queen of Heaven,” continued to build her mystery religion by telling the worshippers that when Tammuz was killed by the wild pig, some of his blood fell on the stump of an evergreen tree, and the stump grew into a full new tree overnight. This made the evergreen tree sacred by the blood of Tammuz. Hence we have the Christmas tree?
She also proclaimed a forty-day period of time of sorrow each year prior to the anniversary of the death of Tammuz. During this time, no meat was to be eaten. Worshippers were to meditate upon the sacred mysteries of Baal and Tammuz, and to make the sign of the “T” in front of their hearts as they worshipped. They also ate sacred cakes with the marking of a “T” or cross on the top.
Every year, on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, a celebration was made. It was Ishtar’s Sunday and was celebrated with rabbits and eggs. Ishtar also proclaimed that because Tammuz was killed by a pig, that a pig must be eaten on that Sunday. By now, readers should have deduced that paganism infiltrated the Roman Catholic Church and that Easter has nothing whatsoever to do with the resurrection of Jesus. The forty days of Lent, eggs, rabbits, hot cross buns and the Easter ham originate in the ancient pagan mystery religion of Babylon. These customs of Easter honour Baal, who is still worshipped as the “Rising Sun” and his house is the “House of the Rising Sun.” How many churches have “sunrise services” on Ishtar’s day and face the rising sun in the East? How many will use coloured eggs and rabbit stories, as they did in ancient Babylon?
- There are no gods. Religion was created as a way to try to explain mysteries and to control primitive people. Modern civilization has science to take care of the mysteries, and primitive civilizations continue to exist either of their own volition or of their own ignorance. Instead of observing gods, we should give our attention to love for our families and friends, artistic creativity as well as intelligence and the knowledge and technological innovation it continues to provide us. Those things sustain us.
- Just as there are no gods, there is no heaven, nor is there a hell. Heaven and hell were created by the same notions that created gods. If there were gods to be in charge of us, then there had to be rules we had to follow. If we followed the rules, we deserved a reward; if we did not follow the rules, we deserved a punishment. Since there is no proof that gods exist, there is no proof that heaven and hell exist.
- Each of us is responsible for our own actions. Don’t blame someone else because things didn’t go the way you wanted them to. Since there are no gods, there is no divine plan to predetermine our lives. Speak honestly and live with purpose.
- The universe was not created in six days so that the seventh could be observed as a day of rest during which we should worship god(s). One day is no different — or more special — than any other. Any day is as good as the others to put aside time for thinking, meditation and rest.
- Nobody deserves respect unless they’ve demonstrated they deserve it. If you want to be respected, show respect.
- Life is not sacred; it’s a cosmologic fluke. We should consider ourselves lucky to be alive. It’s up to us to make the most — physically and emotionally — of the time we have.
- When you make a promise to someone, keep it.
- If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.
- Tell the truth so people will know you’re not full of shit.
- Dreams and aspirations are fine, but in the end, dwelling on them will take you away from the fact that you have bills to pay. Focus on reality.