Hacking Life

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There are many meanings for the word hack. Generally, however, it means to “cut into” or “gain irregular access to.”

Some uses of the word are “positive,” others “negative,” but either way, the practice of hacking has gained a name for itself on the public stage.

We are cautioned to protect our technology from cyber hackers, and we are shown ways to “hack” the flow state to increase performance.

So, with a popular culture tuned in to short cuts and ways to attain things faster … side-stepping traditional protocol … where do we find ourselves when it comes to the basic conditions of living and being?

I have to believe there is a good reason why the top answer people give for not being able to do something is that they have “too much stuff to do.” In other words, we are just too busy. And that, currently, an estimated 40 million Americans suffer with anxiety. Key complaint? A sense of complete overwhelm.

So, why, in a culture that has so many short cut options, are we so damn overwhelmed?

I was recently listening to a podcast by well-known biohacker, Dave Asprey. Before the program began, there was a minute and a half spot on a product that Dave uses to hack into better health and well-being.

It’s somewhat amusing to me that we need more stuff to access a short cut to something as basic and naturally aligned to our biology as health. The fact that “to make things easier” we need more gadgets, products and apps to do it, well, this doesn’t make a lot of sense, when you really look at it.

It does make sense, however, when we apply it to a culture and way of doing things that is so bogged down with a sense of needing things outside of us to tap into what is best for what’s inside of us.

Perhaps, all these options (and in some cases, depending on whom you ask), necessities and must haves are the very things keeping us from tapping into and finding, through our own internal wisdom, the answers to what we seek, including ultimate health and well-being.

Not to mention the overwhelm that comes from thinking we need to know about, obtain and use all this stuff just to be happy and healthy. For me, this amounts to … well … a whole lot of clutter.

My good friend, Barbara Hemphill, has spent over four decades creating a very successful career helping people “tame” their clutter. Oh yeah, she has been doing this much longer than Marie Kondo!

One of Barbara’s famous lines is “clutter is postponed decisions.” Why are we choosing not to make these decisions and, instead, put them off? Well, because we are overwhelmed. Why? Because of the clutter (internal and external) that we have in our lives. Vicious cycle.

Let’s unpack it a bit.

We get overwhelmed when we take in more than we can (or choose to) process, use, handle.

We have a tough time dealing with what’s coming in, first and foremost, because we question our ability to do so.


We lack practice.

We are spending so much time looking out for answers instead of looking in to develop our capacity to problem solve for ourselves.

We need the stuff to do the stuff we haven’t learned or trusted ourselves to do for ourselves.

One of my beliefs is this: clutter is at the root of all crisis. Mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, relational, financial … you name it, any crisis we experience was developed, at its beginnings, from some form of clutter. Or, as Barbara puts it, “postponed decisions.”

Back up.

Build up.



In 2014, Time Magazine published an article by James Wallman entitled “Are You On the Verge of a Clutter Crisis?”

The article reported that the Center on Everyday Lives of Families did a study that found clutter had such a profound effect on cortisol levels that “it should come with the sort of warning they put on cigarette packs: clutter kills.”

Whew, that’s bad!

Perhaps, all this hacking through life is hacking our lives to bits.

If we are always looking for someone or something to inform us on what to do or to make it easier or quicker for us to “be” however it is we desire to be, when do we have time to develop and build the faith, know-how and trust in ourselves to find what’s right to create ease and flow in our own lives?

What if we did take this time? What if we cleaned up the clutter, stopped trying to hack into things and allowed ourselves to simply BE? What might we discover about ourselves and what we truly need?

If we were to go in more … listen to our bodies, our hearts, our guts and our inner voices … would we find it wasn’t the things that brought us what we wanted at all?

That, perhaps, the chasing of them is the very thing keeping us from peace, fulfillment and well-being.

Hmmm … I wonder.

What I do know is this. We won’t find it in an app.