I published this feel-good, self improvement piece in January 2009. I thought it was pretty schmaltzy, but people seemed to like it, so here it is. The advice is still sound, and will work just as well for you in 2013 as it did in 2009…probably even better! (Your results may vary.) Happy New Year all!
I avoid self-help books like the plague. Who needs some sanctimonious moron telling you how to live, offering up a bunch of Dr. Phil-type platitudes that are either meaningless or obvious or both?
What? You like self-help books? You want to be a better you in the New Year? Well, fortunately you’ve come to the right place. I’m no good at taking advice, but I’m a whiz at dishing it out. Heck, give me enough time and I’ll solve everybody’s problems…except for my own! Here are five self-help tips that will get you “feelin’ fine in ‘09”:
1) Get Your Head Together – Get your priorities straight. There are only three things that matter in life: health, family and inner peace (aka happiness). Stop worrying about money – it’s not on the list. As Marlon Brando says in The Godfather, “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” The same goes for women (except, you know, they’re not actually men.) The point is you have to value and cherish the people in your family – they are the only things in your life of any real worth. That’s where you should invest your time and effort. Rich is the man who discovers the treasure of love under his own roof. If only family wasn’t so expensive…
2) Get Your Body Together –I’m not going to pitch you on a fitness kick. (Ha! Talk about a sanctimonious moron!) If you’re happy where you’re at, then so am I. Getting to the Happy Place is all that matters. But you have to be comfortable in your own skin, and in order to do that you have to do something physical on a regular basis. It could be a sport or a physical hobby or a walk around the block; what’s important is feeling connected to the body that surrounds you. If you want to get spiritual, the body is the vessel of your soul. If you want to get literal, the body is the input device for your computer brain. Either way, you deserve to treat it right!
3) Laugh More – Is it the best medicine? Don’t know, but a good laugh sure can pick you up. Sometimes my wife will scowl at me. “Everything’s a big joke to you, isn’t it?” she’ll ask. Actually, honey, life’s a big joke on all of us. You have to learn to roll with the punch-lines. We’re all bewildered extras in a Monty Python sketch. Life’s funny…laugh ‘til you puke.
4) Feed Your Head – Learn something. Read a book. Watch a documentary (though this is the most passive—and lamest — way to learn). Take a course and acquire a new skill. Age doesn’t matter; neither does the skill as long as it challenges you. The important thing is to stay sharp and keep the brain active. Do Sudoku…but only as a last resort. A trusty crossword puzzle is a healthier choice for your mind diet.
5) Stay Positive – Think you’re going to have a lousy year? Then you probably will. Doom and gloom has a way of begetting doom and gloom, and negative thoughts have a way of manifesting themselves. But if you’re optimistic you’re open to new experiences, new potentials. Anything can happen. Contrary to what you might think, reality is quite malleable. It’s like one of those optical illusion tricks you find on a diner placemat; look at the drawing one way and it’s a beautiful young lady, look at it another way and it’s an ugly old crone. Perception is everything — it shapes your reality. Start looking for the good in life every day. Pretty soon you won’t have to look. The good will just be there.
As comedian George Carlin said, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
Hope your 2009 is filled with breathless moments!
And your 2013 is even more magical!
Originally published in Wayne TODAY, January 2009