077: 7 Things to Stop Doing
(& What to Do Instead)

In This Episode: Want a happier, more-fulfilled, and less-stressed life? Here are seven things to stop doing immediately — and what to do instead — that are pretty easy to do right away.

077: 7 Things to Stop Doing (& What to Do Instead)

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Show Notes

  • Help Support Uncommon Sense — yes, $5 helps!
  • Full Disclosure: While editing this episode I had two (“Double Stuf”!) Oreo cookies. But that’s just the thing: I had two — not 20. When you’re not addicted to sugar, you really will be able stop when you want.
  • The CDC on obesity and overweight Americans.
  • “Research has shown that being overweight or obese increases the risk of 11 types of cancers including colorectal, postmenopausal breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancer,” says the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and why you don’t have to cut out every speck.
  • As noted at the end, Uncommon Sense will be taking an episode or two break so I can catch up on rest.


Want a happier, more-fulfilled, and less-stressed life? Here are seven things to stop doing immediately (& what to do instead) that are pretty easy to do right away.

Welcome to Uncommon Sense. I’m Randy Cassingham.

It’s easy for humans to get locked into ruts, and the more we travel those ruts, the deeper they get. We stay the course, even when there’s plain evidence that we’re being stupid. Have you ever insisted you were right about something when friends tell you you’re wrong — up to and including losing those friends? That’s a massive rut.

There are also habits that we get into that burn up our time and energy for no useful purpose. Do you have too much to do and not enough time in the day to do it? These tips will help free up hours of your time. And if you resist such easy steps, you’re probably in a rut!

People with Uncommon Sense work hard to avoid those ruts. But since it is so easy to get caught up in them, they pay attention so they can tell when they’re in one, and they purposefully work to get out of them by thinking about it. “Why am I stuck here?” or, “What do I need to do to put a stop to this, and what should I do instead?”

So here’s my list of 7 things to stop doing, in no particular order, and what to do instead to get out of those ruts and bad habits. There certainly are other things to stop too, and maybe later I’ll do another 7, but these are what came to mind this week.

Number 1: Stop complaining. Nobody likes a whiner — probably not even you. Rather than looking for things to criticize, start looking for the positive, and praise it! If you can listen to this episode or read the transcript, you have many things to be grateful for no matter what hardships you might face.

When is the last time you spent a few minutes feeling that gratitude? Frankly, you should take a moment to feel gratitude every day! But feeling gratitude is just the first step: we need to express that gratitude too, especially when we owe others thank-yous. When my wife helps me, I take a moment to thank her: it’s not her job to look after me, but when she makes my life easier, it’s worth making sure she knows I noticed and appreciated her help. What does that cost me? Nothing. What does it gain me? A better relationship. There you go: we got to “happier” right in the first tip!

Our inclination when others complain is to try to one-up them: “Oh, I hate that too, but here’s what’s worse…!” What’s a better thing to do instead? Fix whatever you’re whining about. I’ll use my wife for an example again: she expressed dismay over how piled up our kitchen cabinets were getting. Even though it hadn’t gotten to the complaint stage yet, let alone whining, I suggested we take an hour off and go through the cabinets to see what we could get rid of. We found food we forgot we had. We found utensils and pots and gadgets we never use. There was a package of drip pans for a barbeque grill we didn’t even have anymore!

The junk went straight to the trash. The useable items, like that unopened package of drip pans, got posted on the local online “Free Stuff” group, where someone who could use it could come get it. And they snapped the stuff up! Other things went to a second-hand store that benefits a local charity. My wife was less stressed, it was easier to navigate our cupboards, and others got things they could use. Win, win, win. No complaining necessary.

Number 2: Stop watching the news. Really. Hell, I do news commentary for a living, and I don’t watch the news! I mean really, what is TV news? It’s teases of what’s coming up that if posted online they’d be called click-bait. Why do they do that on TV? To get you to sit through the commercials! Brain-damaging commercials! You’re not their customer, you’re the product they sell to their customers — the advertisers. What a waste of time. You have things you want to do but not enough time in the day? How many hours do you spend watching the news and other junk that doesn’t actually add to your life? What do you do with the so-called information TV news spoon-feeds you anyway? Nothing? Then why do you suck it into your brain? Use that time instead to get things done. Keep a list of things you actually want to do and, rather than turn on the TV, do something on that list.

How do you think I write This is True every week, create memes, research the True Stella Awards cases and post those updates, write about a really cool person for the Honorary Unsubscribe just about every week, help my wife’s business, take classes to keep my skills up, cook my own food so I get to eat delicious things, keep up with friends, and be on call 24×7 as a medic to help my neighbors? And by the way, I do a podcast once in awhile. Well, it’s relatively easy to do all that and more by not watching the news or other junk TV.

When I do want news, I don’t go to the TV: I go to text sources — legit newspapers. I have paid subscriptions at two of them. Reading is difficult? Then skim through NPR and choose stories that mean something to you, rather than the lineup TV news chooses for you so you’ll sit through commercials. Really: your brain deserves better.

Number 3: Stop holding grudges. There’s an idiom that goes back so far it’s unclear who said it first: “Holding a grudge is like taking poison and hoping the other person will die.” Resentment is a poison, and it’s so stupid that it’s a staple This is True story. You know, like someone letting a grudge poison their brain so much that they do something really stupid, like shoot the person they’ve built up their anger toward …and then find they shot an innocent bystander. While it is true that spending 10 years in prison will provide you with plenty of time on your hands, it’s still astoundingly stupid.

I know, I know: you won’t shoot anyone — probably. But poison is poison. Forgive yourself, forgive others, and move the hell on. If you can’t, you need to get help to make sure you don’t do something stupid.

Number 4: Stop eating so much sugar. Speaking of poisoning your brain! Yeah, this is a hard one: sugar is actually addictive: there’s a reason it’s added to just about every processed food. Americans especially are addicted to sugar: our obesity rate is about 40 percent. Not overweight — 71.5 percent of us are overweight — and 40 percent are medically classified as obese.

That has lead us to an extreme rate of diabetes, which leads to a host of medical complications from amputations to blindness to early death — and, by the way, both obesity and diabetes makes us more susceptible to Covid-19.

Hey, I was there; addicted to sugar, I mean. When I started to look at how much soda I drank, especially when at a fast food joint where I’d refill the 32-ounce cup more than once, well, I went cold turkey on it. Or, as I suggested in the intro: I paid attention so I could tell I was in a rut, and purposefully worked to get out of it by thinking about it. “Why am I stuck here?” or, “What do I need to do to put a stop to this, and what should I do instead?”

Simply, I switched to water, or pretty strong iced tea because I love its flavor. Yeah, it tasted bitter at first since I was so used to lots of sugar, but I stuck with it and now the flavor of what I’m drinking — the flavor I love — comes through better.

Plus, do you know how many calories I cut out?! There’s a reason I’ve actually lost weight in the past 10 years while most people have gained. You think maybe I benefit from better health? And it was the easiest health habit I ever changed.

There is also more and more evidence that sugar has a direct link to cancer. Wait… cutting out sugar helps reduce the impact of cancer and covid?! That’s worth it even if you don’t lose weight. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a spec of sugar; everyone enjoys a treat now and then. Just be conscious of what you’re doing, and knock out what’s easy to get rid of, like soda.

Number 5: Stop worrying about what others think of you. You know what? People don’t think about you as much as you think. And even when they do, so what? What to do instead: just be a gracious, caring human. Have some humility, be authentic, and what everyone else thinks doesn’t really matter, and isn’t worth any energy on your part.

Number 6: This is the opposite of Number 5: Stop worrying about what other people do. Hey, someone’s “poor” but they have a cell phone? So what? You don’t have the full story, bug off. Even if it’s your brother you don’t know everything, so it’s none of your business. And if it’s not your brother? Well, mind your own damned business.

Last, Number 7: Stop demanding your rights. I’m not talking to those of you who really are deprived of their true human rights, I mean those of you who think others have to take action to accommodate you. Why? Because you’re ignoring their rights. When anyone’s rights are stomped on, none of our rights are truly safe. The more you defend others and their rights, the more you protect yours. Don’t whine, work.

I promise that if you really do stop doing these seven things, and adjust as suggested, you will have a happier, more-fulfilled, and less-stressed life. And you know what? The people around you will too. That’s something to think about. If this seems overwhelming, start with one of them, and work it hard so you can add another, and then another, as soon as you can.

One more thing you can do: take time to rest. Noticing I’m getting extra tired lately, in part from an upswing in callouts as a volunteer medic in my rural community, Uncommon Sense will be taking a break for a week or two. Once rested up, I’ll be back with more episodes.

The Show Page for this episode is thisistrue.com/podcast77. Let me know in the comments your results when you try these steps.

I’m Randy Cassingham … and I’ll talk at you later.

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4 Comments on “077: 7 Things to Stop Doing
(& What to Do Instead)

  1. Excellent choices for a thinking person to make. Cutting out sugar is hard, but I know it’s worth it. I’m working on it. Skipping the news is easy: I have no TV and don’t subscribe to any newspapers or news magazines.

    I learned some time ago that what other people think of me is none of my business.


    Cutting out sugar completely is hard; reducing it significantly is much easier. The point is, don’t let the former keep you from the latter. In the ’00s I thought nothing of eating an entire package of cookies in one day as I worked. I still eat cookies, but it’s “a few” rather than an entire package. Adding that and similar to a 99.99% reduction in soda pop makes a huge difference, even if I never get to zero.

    To be clear, I’m also not advocating “no news,” but rather choosing what news to consume over being spoon-fed things you may or may not have interest in. That’s why I suggest going to a good newspaper site (or NPR or BBC or similar) to skim the stories and actively choose what interests you …and then move on to more productive or useful things. I certainly agree that it’s rational to skip all of it if none of it interests you. So many incessantly watch TV news and then fret and/or rant about all the things they have no power to change, and that’s simply stupid. -rc

  2. I think this post may be your most useful. They are all interesting, but usually about other people. This one is about every one of us.

    Another possible item that maybe cuts across a couple of the above, is to stop worrying about things over which we have no control. For example here in the UK many people get really worked up about your president, but we can’t affect him, so why worry?

    There’s that famous prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr along the lines of “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” While I am utterly atheist, I fully agree with the sentiment, and we have it posted on the kitchen wall. Sadly my wife is the opposite, and worries about everything — which can be a source of tension!

    Round here people often moan about something or other that the local council should fix — a hole in the road, a broken street lamp, a damaged road sign — but do nothing about it. I on the other hand contact the council, and they quickly fix these things.

    I have the motto “Those who can, do. Those who can’t be bothered just criticise”. Far better to be in the first category.

    Glad you liked it. There have been TRUE stories now and then about people who go to great lengths to whine about (for instance) potholes that have been bothering them for weeks or months, and when the reporter contacts local authorities for their comment, it’s along the lines of “We didn’t know about this — no one ever reported it. We’ll send out a crew.” Easy as that (though I know sometimes they don’t do anything about them even when they’re reported repeatedly). -rc

  3. Spot on, Randy! Great job!

    NPR is my favorite news outlet.

    The serenity prayer is my philosophy of life. Good advice for all ages, all times. I personally leave out the, “God grant me” since I am not superstitious.


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