Happiness. Health. Life. These are goals that are common to almost everyone. But are they achieved? There are many recipes for success, but so often they leave us in the same rut as before. It’s time to break out of that cycle, by learning to avoid some of the basic mistakes that so many people make. Let me share with you how.
1. Don’t Forget the Big Picture
Too often we get wrapped up in the small details of a task, and lose sight of the reason we got started on it in the first place. Forgetting that “grand view” of a challenging project makes it more likely for us to lose focus, go off target and fail to get things done the way they need to be. This leads to discouragement and a poor reputation amongst your co-workers.
To put it another way, it’s like when you are driving to see your friend in New Jersey for an important meeting, but on the way you think you have extra time, so you stop in at this random zoo you see on the side of the road, and it turns out to be this odd place where you feed Froot Loops to the monkeys through PVC pipes. This makes you upset and may even spur you to some sort of animal-rights action. Sure, this might leave you with an interesting story to tell, and the monkeys may love you, but they just as well might be grumpy because you took away their Froot Loops, and then where will you be?
2. Don’t Stick your Foot into a Cauldron containing hungry rats
Some people think that rats are beautiful, misunderstood creatures. Others have written fictions about rats that scientifically advanced to be able to grow their own crops and steal electricity. Whatever your point of view is, if you get a bunch of rats that are hungry, they will begin to eat whatever meat you give them. This includes your foot.
There are all sorts of reasons why your foot is important. A healthy person will use their foot pretty much every day, and so without it, your life will be seriously inconvenienced. Even if they only gnaw on your foot for a while, and don’t actually chew it off, it’s not likely to be pleasant, and certainly not helpful for achieving your life goals.
3. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the TV show Lost ended with the revelation that they were all dead all along
This is a strange rumor that turned up after the series ended, but it’s not true, not exactly. There was a revelation that had to do with people turning out to be dead, but it wasn’t one in which the entire series was negated this way. So don’t let that keep you from spending a couple of weekends binge viewing Lost.
On the other hand, there are lots of other reasons to not watch Lost or to be annoyed by the show overall. So feel free to not even watch Lost.
4. Don’t jog into traffic while listening to Air Supply on your iPod…with your eyes shut
This is just a bad idea overall. With your eyes shut, you can’t see. And for most people, your ears are not sufficient to keep you from actually being hit by ongoing traffic, especially when you are listening to Air Supply, even if it’s on really low volume. So come on, it’s best to avoid that.
5. Don’t spend hours counting how many lines of dialog each character has in your favorite comic books series
Sure, it may allow you to idle away lots of hours, but in the end, what does the information actually benefit you? It’s not even a very compelling trivia question, since it depends on people actually having read that comic series in order to be interesting.
6. Don’t try to convince people that you have had your photo taken with Miss Universe
That’s the kind of thing that people will either not be impressed by, or will demand to see the photographic evidence. So unless you can actually produce that evidence, your claim is going to pretty quickly fall flat. You are better off trying to convince people of something that is a bit more nebulous – like that you have heard of Miss Universe. That’s the kind of thing that people have a very difficult time disproving, so it’ll keep those nay-sayers at bay.
7. Don’t take a bet that you can spell the word “occurrence” out loud without looking at it
It’s actually an extremely difficult word to spell correctly, so unless you’ve actually taken the time to specific study and meditate on it, training yourself especially to keep your head under pressure, and are very confident in your capabilities, than it’s best to avoid such a conflict and thus avoid the potential embarrassment.
8. Don’t play that game where you try to hold a ballpoint pen as close to your friend’s eye as you can without touching it, especially if you are playing the version where he holds his pen as close to your eye as possible without touching it at the same time.
Seriously? How is this even not illegal at this point? How many more kids have to be injured before we as a society will take action and say “no more!” Just don’t do it – it’s not safe.
9. Don’t try to eat your smart phone
Don’t believe the lies! Samsung Galaxy’s aren’t made out of some sort of edible rice cake. iPhone’s are not made out of tofu, and the latest research tells us that it’s more than likely they never will be. Trying to eat one of these smart phones has a myriad of consequences, and they are all bad: 1. Bad for your teeth. 2. Bad for your digestion. 3. Bad for the phone – after you eat it, it probably won’t work anymore, so you’ll probably just have to buy a new one, which is 4. Bad for your wallet.
Also, it’s totally not true that eating a smart phone gives you the powers of that phone in your own body (eg. Internalized gps powers, direct access to the internet in your brain, etc.) This is a complete falsehood and an urban myth that has no basis in reality. As near as I can tell, it originated as a mash-up between two characters on Heroes, a show which sort of went nowhere in the end.
10. Don’t forget to ignore the temptation to disregard the consequences of not stopping what you are doing and smell the roses
Because it’s so easy to forget to ignore the temptation to disregard the consequences of not stopping what you are doing and smell the roses. And that’s bad. What do you think those roses are for? Unless of course you don’t like the smell of roses. In which case, sure, go ahead and forget to ignore the temptation to disregard the consequences of not stopping what you are doing and smell the roses. You’ll probably be happier that way.
11. Don’t butter your toast on both sides
Because then, if you drop it, it’s for sure going to land butter-side down. If you only butter half of the bread, than at least you have a shot. But if you butter both sides, than that’s it. Your toast. Or rather, that is, you’re toast.
12. Don’t you Forget About Me. Don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t you forget about me.
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh…! Won’t you come see about me? As you walk on by will you call my name? Tell me your troubles and doubts. Don’t you forget about me. I’ll be alone, dancing you know it baby. Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling, down, down, down.
13. Don’t buy the Saved by the Bell: The Complete Collection on DVD
Because it just wasn’t a very good show, and then seriously, are you going to re-watch all of them? All five seasons? Even the ones with Tori? Even the very special episode when Jessie gets hooked on drugs? When? Haven’t you got better things to do?
14. Don’t declare boldly that your new ship is unsinkable and then steer it directly into an iceberg.
Because then you get this terribly overrated movie, this song you can’t get out of your head, an old lady who curses unnaturally, and a bunch of annoying catch phrases that will very quickly be dated and slightly embarrassing.
15. Don’t travel back in time, start interacting with your own grandparents before you were born, stepping off the designated path and treading on butterflies without considering the consequences.
Ultimately, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do these things. I’m just saying you should consider the consequences when you do. Just make sure you are mentally and emotionally prepared to wipe yourself out of existence, to become your own grandfather, or to accidentally change the course of human history and make the outcome of the Crimean war radically different than what it was supposed to be. If you feel you’ve got the maturity and foresight to deal with such things, than I guess, fine. Go ahead.
And I guess that’s true with everything on this list. I have nothing authoritative to give you that should make you believe my advice beyond my lifetimes of experience. So, in the end, you can actually do them, but you really have to know what you’re getting into. So don’t take this list literally, if that helps. Take it instead as “15 thoughts to think about, which depending on whether or not you apply them to your particular circumstances, which of course we know are unique and hard to just put into a neat and simple box, may or may not actually make any qualitative difference to your happiness and health.”
And thus, be encouraged, and receive the input with the huggy feelings that it is intended with.