“Do this but be that and always remember this but think this if that happens”
It feels like all the self-help advice out there has cancelled each other out because there’s just too much of it to remember, let alone actually implement.
I’ve consumed a lot of self-help advice recently. Books, articles and believe it or not actual human interaction. I want to share the advice that has had the greatest impact on my life so far. I’m sure you will have heard it before, and most of the time so had I, it just took the right wording to make it stick.
Be grateful for your problems, there are 1000 things that could be worse right now.
Everyone (except maybe enlightened monks) has one or two or 12 niggles that brings them down to Earth, that they complain about. But what got me were all the problems that I don’t have. There are thousands.
I’ve heard “it could be worse” countless times but it didn’t click until I actually stopped to think of all the possible problems that I didn’t have to deal with because my life is free of them.
My mum didn’t get hit by a car today. I didn’t contract any STD’s on the weekend. (Because I didn’t get laid, but still, a problem I don’t have right?) I still have two eyes that work OK, better than the 285 million who have vision problems worldwide.
This doesn’t need to be a massive unrelatable guilt-trip, like “African kids are starving and you’re complaining about traffic? Fuck you!” But instead a reminder that your suckiest issue right now would easily be overtaken and look like free bacon if any of the worse problems you thought up became a reality.
Now when I finish thinking about my most average current problem, I end up smiling because there wasn’t a cockroach in my Big Mac.
No one cares. So terrify yourself, then laugh about it.
This one hit me like a freight train. To others, you are but a side character in their story. You are the random person they walk by, or the co-worker they have small-talk with. There was a whole lot of stuff happening millions of years before you, and unless North Korea gets itchy feet and want to test out their nukes, there will still be a whole lot going on when no one remembers you. You’ll be another headstone to walk past and an inactive facebook account.
Bleak maybe, but that means there is no reason not to be exactly who you want to be. Or to do crazy shit on the daily. I know I’d be mad if I hit 60 and lived a safe live full of shoulda’s instead of oh-wells. No one is judging that’s worth worrying about.
For my radio show recently I had to hit on girls wearing a mini-skirt. Long story. Don’t ask.
It was amazing how little people cared, noticed, or reacted. I actually had conversations with people around my office who didn’t bat an eyelid. On the street I might as well have been wearing my favourite outfit I swear I look great in, because everyone who saw me had the exact same amount of fucks left intact after I was gone.
The majority of things you do today will be forgotten in the next six weeks by you, and those around you. The reasons not to go for what you want, or to not do stuff that makes you laugh until you have abs, shouldn’t be enough to keep you from absolutely terrifying yourself by attempting, and then laughing about it later. Nobody even remotely cares as much as you.
Ironically, my favourite writer Mark Manson, who provided a lot of the aforementioned self-help I went through, has a different approach. I asked him what his favourite piece of advice is that he says to himself that has a positive influence on his life, and he replied in like 10 seconds with this:
“I try to say as little as possible to myself internally, because I try to understand that sometimes life makes you nervous, and sometimes you feel like shit, and that’s totally fine and normal and it’s no reason not to do what you want to do.”
Maybe one day I’ll get to a point where I’m so busy living the life I want to with no regrets and a whole lot of scary-then but hilarious-now failings under my belt that I won’t need to say anything.