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Making life harder than it has to be.

A Very Simple Guide A meditation in words and photos by Todd Vogel

There is a fork in the road. One way has large signs warning of dangers, demons and derangement. The other has a much smaller sign - it reads “This way.” My first reaction “‘Do not enter,’

that can’t mean me.”

Making life harder than it has to be turns out to be an option you can discontinue at any time. ODAT Books Warwick, NY

The hardest part will be getting past why the things in this book do not apply to you. Take notes though... The final chapter will give you the chance to list them. This book is written from experience. I, the author, have spent much time tangled in brambles, tripping over obstacles I put in front of myself, falling off of cliffs I knew were there, and running blindly down dark alleys which had been clearly labeled, “no exit.� This book is written from experience. I no longer do these things. (At least not as often or vigorously.) Life has become a whole lot easier - the world is just as insane as it was, despite that, I have found some peace, possibly you can too. Begin with the notion that you just might have choices.

Complicating things is something some of us really, really excel at.

Section 1 Unhappiness (the inside job) Section 2 making it worse (Finding more ways to complicate things.) Section 3 Wallowing Section 4 How many times do you have to change a light bulb before you try flipping the switch? Section 5 That can’t be the answer. Section 6 Keeping your life drama free. Section 7 Explain why none of this applies to you.

Section 1 Unhappiness (the inside job) STUCK. or maybe even worse, sliding downhill. It’s not going to get any better on its own. Believe it or not waiting to win the lottery is not a viable plan.

This book can not have all the answers but maybe it can point you in a better direction.

Chances are things went wrong when your ego didn’t fit. Too big and people tend to avoid you - or worse, Too small and you get ignored, stepped on - or worse. Most of us have a combination too big around the head too small around the heart... So tight we can’t breathe. This leads, quite understandably, to problems with attitude, entitlement, and the emergence of an inner brat who mutters through clenched teeth “don’t tell me what to do.”

A committee utilizing the voices of mother, father, taunting siblings and a host of others sings the, “I told you so” aria with a harmonious chorus of, “what a jerk.” At some point I began to believe some of this. And that’s when the alternate reality took over. I was convinced the road was going somewhere despite the barricade and the heavy equipment parked in front of me. I would argue about it for hours. “It’s supposed to have ruts and boulders.”

Section 2 making it worse (Finding new and better ways to complicate things.) Once despair has taken residence in your heart... There are may ways to go off the rails. Most of the really effective ones include an addiction of some sort sometimes more than one. Drugs, alcohol, people, work, food, sex, music, things, the list goes on and on. Moderation is not in this picture. Moderation is not a concept understood. Denial is a fundamental force of nature stronger than logic and reason and even love.

Our confused selves thrive in befuddlement. Boundaries cease to exist I am you - you are me. Some people run others become hostages. This leads to isolation and an amazing condition called terminal uniqueness. “You don’t understand, you can‘t, and if you did you would probably hate me.” Kinda ties up things in a Houdini proof knot doesn’t it?

If somehow we find people, we so very often grab the wrong ones - wrong in so many amazing ways. Acting out is the main act of any full blown addiction. It takes us places.. well you know, dark - dank - desperate where despair grows like mutant mushrooms feasting on our soul. Projection limits my horizon to the rim of the garbage can. It’s not going to get any better until...

Section 3 Wallowing Until ... we are through wallowing. Among the possible mud pits... Anger. There is so much to be righteously enraged about. It can grow and become ornate in its layered complexity. Anger provides an energy, a purpose, and even a raison d ‘etre. I now see that anger is a drug. I now see how it feeds off of and then back into my other addictions and confusions. Anger has become too costly to my karma

By now the hole dug may be deep and filled with other even more toxic substances. Shame takes up residence on a couch in your consciousness like an alcoholic uncle on the lam from a rehab. When tired of being angry at the world, it turns inward and wraps a wet blanket which seals off light and air. This must be fought, help may very well be required. This is the bottom. The sub basement is flooded with acidic sludge. You don’t need to go there. .

For me, giving up being right (and making sure everyone understood and acknowledged) was a turning point to becoming right sized and allowed my ears to listen to ideas not my own. It can be the beginning of the lifting of a series of rocks which have been crushing our souls.

Section 4 How many times do you have to change a light bulb before you try flipping the switch? You are not alone which turns out to be a good thing because the hole is much too deep for you to climb out by yourself. You know this because you have tried, and fallen back how many times? One way to lessen the fear of change is to look at the alternative and what happens if you don’t.

People were always something of a mystery to me. A something to be feared. I was sensitive, I was hurt, though I probably should admit I used it as an excuse to withdraw In recovery literature much is made of being restored to sanity. I now possess some semblance of said sanity, but am not sure restored is the right term. That assumes I was there once before. Another great joy - I am no longer compelled to argue semantics! I am in a place where I feel safe - for the first time in my life. Safe and accepted. No longer alone.

Section 5 That can’t be the answer.

Keeping it simple

Just because you can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich complicated; it doesn’t mean you should.

Now. The next critical happening in your life will be a tiny electrical charge being transmitted to your heart by your brain. Do you want to risk that by thinking too much? ***

Banish drama. “How important is it, really?� can be a lifesaver.

Find Joy Huge reward! Joy is a black and white kitten. Joy is the sun breaking through a hole in the clouds.

Joy is a child’s laughter Joy is something we often postpone, because of important things like being angry at someone or something.

Section 6 Keeping your life drama free. Four tools: Gratitude Acceptance Attitude Boundaries

Gratitude There is a saying that he who knows what is enough will always have it. My ability to focus on the empty 5% of my glass often astounds me. The cliche says half full most of us find we are closer to 95% full when we let go of the empty space... Anything that is missing I most probably can supply from within.

Acceptance is key to finding a way to love ourselves and those around us. Attitude may be the only real choice I have in a situation. It can make all the difference. Boundaries I am powerless over many things other people especially. But I can say no with my mouth or my presence.

Section 7 Explain why none of this applies to you. Try to keep it to less than 100 pages.

Now, get this guy to agree with you.

You are not alone in this.

Text and images copyright Todd Vogel 2011 all rights reserved. more info at

Making Life Harder  

than it has to be. This photo meditation uses the author's experience strength and hope to present this topic in a way which hopefully will...

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