1. The 30 Minute Rule
Always set aside 30 minutes a day (preferably 30 minutes following a long arduous task like a #job) to do something that you, and only you, want to do.
Meditating usually takes the cake here, but options are endless. The idea here is similar to the rationale of why people take vacations, and then spend all their time talking about how great their vacation was — it’s an escape from the daily monotony, devised solely and entirely by you.
If you spend the entire day catering to the demands of others (a corporation, a family, a car that needs to be taken to the shop), there’s a minor chance you’ll slowly morph into a Lester Burnham type character — perpetually crushed and downtrodden, until all the aggression is released in an outlandish and slightly dangerous manner.
Only difference is that your mid-life crisis probably won’t win an Oscar.
2. Never Blow Up At A Stranger – You Don’t Know Their Story
I was at an event a few weeks ago, in which my friend Eric only stayed briefly — his dad had gotten in a terrible motorcycle accident the night before, he had just found out, and he was leaving straight from the event to see him in Boston.
As a result, he was, a little bit out of sorts, and wasn’t exactly into talking to people.
On Monday I was hanging out with Eric and another friend Derrick. Derrick made a passing comment about how he had thought Eric was kind of a dick — for the only other time he had met Derrick was at the aforementioned event.
While it’s very natural to make judgements about people we meet for the first time (what else do we have to go on?), we also never know what anyone may be going through at that particular time.
If a receptionist is rude, countering that rudeness with heightened verbal abuse may only make her leukemia recent diagnosis that more impossible to stomach. Being angry rarely helps anyone.
3. Read Reality Check-ish Articles Like This One
I’m referring to the link above — an article of some of the 50 biggest names in the comedy world, and what they were doing at age 25. While half of the members of that list were well on their way to stardom, an impressive amount of now big-timers were just getting started. Zach Galifianakis , for example, was a busboy at an NYC strip club taking acting classes on the side. Jon Stewart was a driver for a catering service. Tina Fey was cast as a bank spokesperson in her first TV commercial. Bo Burnham is 23.
Most listicle literature (sorry for putting those two words back-to-back) argues that you shouldn’t compare yourself to your peers — that you should always move at your own pace, that you should constantly take deep breaths, and that you shouldn’t ever look at a coffee mug because they provide the exact same advice.
That said, I’d argue that to some degree, it’s healthy to compare yourself to your peers; we’re all playing different variations of the same game, and you don’t want to lose to your friend Fred who once jumped off a rickety roof in high school.
See what others in your field are doing, get slightly jealous, but also remember what Zach Galifianakis was doing.
4. When In Doubt, Channel Everything Into A Positive
Someone get your delivery order wrong? Instead of composing a tweet of apocalyptic indignance and refusing to order from that place ever again, try out the new dish.
This is how I was introduced to Spicy Chinese Broccoli. It’s been quite the harmonious friendship. Thank you, wrong order.
5. Laugh It Off
I was reading the comment thread to an article the other day, in which one commenter was viciously attacking the author for having the gall to compose a bunch of words and put them on the internet. Based on his tone, it seemed like the vein protruding from his right temple was about to pop.
Another commenter replied to his comment, with perhaps the most simplistic yet “in perspective” thing I’ve read in a while:
“Dude, chill. Why do you care so much?”
What if — instead of getting insulted and disgusted by other people’s comments on a medium that doesn’t take into account things like cultural relativism, we just laughed things off and moved on with our lives? I’m using the internet as the primary example here, but this could also apply to much more important life realities. Someone cut you off in the subway, screaming loudly about “the paperwork”? Imagine how much more paperwork he’d have to deal with if he ended up unintentionally murdering you. Someone outraged over the fact that Emily’s gonna be late to brunch for the fourth time in a row? Imagine how silly it would be if Emily was actually on time. Emily’s not allowed to be on time. It’s tradition.