Thought Catalog

8 (Counterintuitive) Ways To Save Your Life

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Maarten van den Huevel

It’s no joke: Life can be shit. You’re probably doing your best, too, when life just chuckles and throws ya’ a nice curveball to see how you handle it. Maybe you’re recovering from a big setback, and you’re nervous because the last one really hurt? Or, you’re running out of steam and you really need a win. And you’re getting real sick of those people posting inspirational messages on their Facebook wall all the time (because you never see successful people post that crap). If you see one more #blessed Instagram, you might just explode and respond with a bunch of poop emojis? (Doooo it!) Chin up, dearest. Here are 8 tips that are definitely not going to make it onto any of your friend’s vision boards this summer. But, they might help. These counter-intuitive, non-sugar-coated life-hacks can get you out of your funk and back on your feet.

1. Give up

There’s nothing more zen than going through all your shit, bagging it up, and taking it to the local Goodwill. Drop it off, walk away, never look back. You do not need those shoes you wear once a year. When the time comes, you’ll want new ones anyway. You’ll probably never use the good china. Go ahead and take one “freebie” box and fill it with the stuff you simply can’t bear to let go of (photos of your ex, your old year books, wedding cake toppers, first-date movie tickets) fill it, and then store it in your laundry room. That’s it.

Everything else? Bag it up and toss it.

2. Stop giving a fuck

This is not to be confused with not caring, not paying attention or not feeling. (Trust me. You didn’t make it this far to spend your days not feeling anything.) It’s a simple lesson from the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson. Just start giving the right fucks.

Stop giving a shit what your soon-to-ex’s parents are going to say about you when you kick his ass out. Don’t pay any attention to the girls at work who are going to scoff at your wild new haircut. Don’t worry what your practical friends will think when you sell your condo and venture off into the unknown/unplanned future that you know is right for you. Or, maybe you don’t know is right and that’s the whole goddamn point, already. Feel things, experience the authentic life you deserve. Be fearless. Just don’t waste your time with banal, meaningless shit the local, small-minded and insignificant knitting club is going to stress about. Your life is so, so short.

3. Leave

As our good friend Hunter S. Thompson said, “Buy the ticket. Take the ride.” You cannot afford to wait for a plan, a good reason, or a travel buddy. Trust me. By the time you find the perfect travel companion you will be too old for it to matter. Go now. NOW! Book the trip and figure it all out once you board the fucking flight. And, don’t stress about having the “perfect” experience when you get there. Someone else’s idea of the fantastic voyage may include meeting tons of people, riding an elephant and Instagramming an exotic itinerary of spicy meals, handsome strangers, and zip-lines. If that isn’t you, then don’t worry. So you’re not Julia Roberts? Who cares? Maybe you just want to take in the sites and stroll around a neat city or see a show. Maybe you want to say you ate fondue in some famous place or had bad coffee in Prague? Cool. Do you.

4. Quit

Just walk away. From the work that isn’t fulfilling, the boyfriend who brings you down, the marriage that makes you feel like shit, the booze that you feel guilty about, the guilt you carry on your shoulders. Whatever. Give it up. The friends who didn’t call when your mom died? Walk the fuck away. Don’t hold a grudge – that shit is not for everyone. Like kettle bells, black coffee and oysters. Some people won’t hang. It’s OK. Just quit. You are everything that’s holding you back right now. You are responsible for your own misery, at some level. It’s actually true.

5. Don’t try

You know that friend who’s ALWAYS on a diet? Who’s talking to her life coach-slash-spirit guide-slash-whatever? Who’s trying juice blends and needles and hormones and is always avoiding wheat and cupcakes and this week it’s fish but only on Tuesdays? Yeah…she seems reallllly happy. Then there are those people who are just fit and happy and beautiful and they never seem to worry? Maybe just stop caring a little bit and see what happens? Just stop trying so hard. You’ve told the Universe what you want. Now get the fuck out of its way for a change. And while you’re at it? Get out of your own way. I think there’s even a book about that…

6. Hurt yourself

Don’t go out and pierce a bunch of shit, or take up an expensive meth hobby. You don’t need to do something drastic. But, get ready to get hurt. Here’s what I mean: if you quit a bad marriage, leave an evil partner or move away from your controlling parents, at some point, you’re going to want to couple up again. This is about the time when all your well-intentioned friends will inform you that you’re making a YUGE mistake. They will literally be horrified. “OMG,” they’ll cry. “What are you doing??? You’re not even ready!! You’re just gonna get hurt!!”

Um…yeah? That’s just part of the deal. You put yourself out there, you catch feelings, you get hurt. What are you supposed to do? Become a robot and get to the point where it wouldn’t matter because you’ve built a wall around yourself and can feel absolutely nothing? Gee…That sounds fun. Anything is better than tuning out and numbing. And those are cop-outs anyways: overeating, smoking weed all day, “forgetting” to bathe, drinking all the beer that you can possibly stomach, running nine-hundred, fifty thousand miles, lifting your body weight in kettlebells until your shoulders no longer fit inside a regular t-shirt and you begin to scare people. You have to take the bad with the good. It won’t all be bad. Yes, people are shit sometimes, but the opposite is also true.

7. Don’t ask for help

This is counter-intuitive since you’re literally reading this, but…you already know in your heart what you want to do. Stop asking and just listen to that little voice inside your head. You’re just setting yourself up for a grudge against your closest friends who are angrily trying to solve an unsolvable problem every time you ask them what to do. If this sounds uncomfortable, look at it this way: imagine how frustrating it must be for your loved ones who really want to help every time you come at them with an unsolvable problem. You’re not doing them any favors. They’re just trying to help and you keep putting them in awkward positions. I know you just want empathy (I’m here for you, this sucks), but that’s hard to do. Get a dog. Tell Sparky, he understands.

8. Go broke

This one is kind of a big one. The next time you’re at your very lowest and you feel like there’s no point in searching for happiness, look at it this way. If you have nothing to lose, then…I don’t know, maybe lose it? At least go deep into debt and do something cool and epic first. Like, buy a motorcycle and travel the world. All that cool stuff your fun-police, ex-husband held you back from? Now you are currently holding yourself back from. You are your worst excuse. Give it up. Go do something interesting. Take out a loan. Sell your home and see the world. End up with a good story to tell (at the least) and re-evaluate from there. Drain your bank and buy an RV, go live in a national park. Hike the southwest as a drifter and blog about it. Go live in a foreign country for a year where you don’t speak the language. I don’t know. Anything is better than sitting around moping about how he or she or they or the system won.

I get it, man. I am not a naturally happy person. But, I believe (deep down in my cold, black heart) that happiness is a bit like a plant. Even a prickly, cactus plant. It’s got to be nurtured. Give it a bit of sun every once in awhile. Some water, some plant food. Maybe it will bloom? Maybe a bird will come by to visit. Or a cool bug? Who the fuck knows. But if you ignore it, it’s not going to do very well on its own. Give it a chance. What have you got to lose, anyways? TC mark

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