How Not to Propose to Me

One of the cool things about blogging is that I’m rarely at a loss for post ideas.

(…I said rarely, not never.)

This is partially because many ideas stem from real-life experiences and conversations… and during these conversations, if I don’t immediately recognize it as an opportunity for a blog post, someone else will point it out for me. (“Hey! You should write about that!”)

This was the case during a happy hour with my coworkers on Friday, when we got into a discussion about marriage proposals.

The girls (all of us unmarried) went around the table talking about the best and worst proposal ideas. One girl said jokingly that she’ll probably be proposed to on the couch while watching TV… and we all debated whether that would be lazy and uninteresting, or cozy and sweet.

Another girl expressed bafflement that “public” has become synonymous with “romantic.” Why does the thing have to happen center-stage? Why can’t we enjoy this moment privately?

In any case, there seems to be a lot of disparity on the topic. Far be it from me to criticize the most important moment of someone else’s life… but for me personally, here are the ways NOT to ask for my hand in marriage:

At a sporting event.

075proposalThis marriage proposal is brought to you by the Zales Fan Marquee.

First of all, this proposal would make no sense in my case, since sports aren’t really my thing. But even if they were, I can’t identify with people who are comfortable sharing this life-defining moment with tens of thousands of strangers, with their response being captured on a 100-foot-wide jumbotron. Why do they always look so surprised? Because nobody goes to a sporting event, in jeans and a jersey, stuffing their face with hot dogs, expecting to be proposed to. There’s a reason.

Anything with a character count.

Jodie-Valentine-620x601

…ke dinner tonight?

I’m not exactly known for my brevity. So I would hope that whenever I’m asked the most important question of my life, it’s through a medium that doesn’t limit expression at all. I would just never want to miss out on any small detail of the proposal because it wouldn’t fit in the space provided.

One-size-fits-none.

wedding-proposal-plane-banner“Insert partner’s name here.”

Asking someone to spend the rest of their life with you should be an experience completely unique to each couple. Any “propose-by-number” option where the question is template-ized feels lazy and insincere.

In food or drink.

swallowed-engagement-ring-xray

I have no idea who came up with the idea that putting an engagement ring in something edible is romantic. Worst case scenario, I swallow it. Second worst, I’m about to swallow it but your frantic yelling and waving stops me short. So then, what, I have to gag it back up into my open palm? How romantic.

Even if consumption wasn’t a risk at all… what is the appeal here? If I notice my engagement ring in a champagne glass, what am I supposed to do? Reach into the glass with my fingers? Pour it out on the floor? Still drink it, only slowly and cross-eyed? I just think people who propose in this way haven’t spent a lot of time thinking the whole thing through.

Anything that puts the ball in my court.

billboard

Possibly my greatest fear is being proposed to in a way that requires me to make the next move. I am the most awkward person alive, and just the thought of this makes me squeamish.

Like… billboards. When I lived in San Diego, there was a month where every day on my way home from work I passed a billboard of a man proposing to his girlfriend. Eventually they added a red banner to it, “She said yes!” and I’m sure she was thrilled and they’re living happily ever after now.

But all I could think about was how it went down between the two of them. Was she alone in the car when she drove by it? What did she do? Call him from the road? “Sooo, hey. I saw your billboard…” Or did she wait until she got home? Was he waiting there? What if she hadn’t seen it? Took a different route home?

Overall, it just seems like a lot could go wrong, and a lot is riding on the girl’s role in passing the billboard and then doing something about it. No thanks.

How TO Propose to Me

Lest I sound like a cynic, there are some proposal ideas that I would go absolutely gaga over. I won’t go into them all here, but they usually follow a few guidelines:

They involve some foresight. Spontaneity is lovely (if you can pull it off effectively), but generally speaking the best proposals are thoroughly thought-through. Many boys aren’t great planners, so when they take the time to orchestrate their question it’s especially endearing.

They are personalized to the ask-ee. There’s nothing sweeter than catering the question to be meaningful to your partner specifically. If he/she is a dancer, or loves horses, or is very in touch with their Italian roots… customize the experience to their passion, background, and personality.

They are an experience. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with just dropping to one knee. But I do think it’s sweet when the question is encompassed in a larger event or experience. After all, this story will be told for decades… make it something worth telling.

They echo the flavor of the couple. Whatever the proposal is, it should be completely unique to you and your partner – something that reflects the nature of your relationship and history together. This is your moment, your experience, and your story. (I feel the same way about weddings.)

They are meaningful. Ultimately, when it comes to asking someone to spend their life with you, it doesn’t matter how you do it… so long as it is genuine and sincere. And if (for you) that means proposing at a sporting event, newspaper ad, plane banner, champagne, or billboard… so be it.

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How to Write a Blog Post (in 26 easy steps!)

1. Talk about writing your blog post. Talk about it all day long. Tell yourself, your boyfriend, the pictures on the wall. You are going to write a blog post today, damnit. Make sure everybody knows.

2. Set aside time. Schedule a date with your blog, pencil it into your day calendar, and stick to it. At some point in your life, actually turn down another activity because “I’m sorry, I can’t. Today is a blog post day.”

3. Prepare your blogging area – whatever that means. Tidy, organize, plug in your laptop, make some chips and guacamole, play some Beatles, whatever. Make your space blogging-ready.

4. Also, prepare your blogging self. Make sure you are well-fed and comfortable. Get in your jammies, or wrap yourself in a blanket, or pull the cat up onto your lap. (truthfully not my pet-of-choice, but I’ve noticed an interesting trend in bloggers and cats. Someone should do a study on that.)

5. Rid yourself of any distractions. That means taking care of any unfinished business, if applicable. Call your mom back. Do the dishes. Pay the electric bill.

6. Sit down to start your blog post, totally pumped and ready to write.

7. …Stare at the blinking cursor.

8. Allow yourself a few minutes of browsing to get the creative juices flowing. Review the weekly writing challenge, or get desperate enough to do something hopelessly pathetic like a google search.

 Picture 2

9. Spend some time on other blogs. Spend a lot of time, actually. Be really impressed with other bloggers’ work. Hate yourself for not being as good as they are. Kick yourself for not thinking of [INSERT POST IDEA] first. Wallow in self pity for a few minutes.

10. Go back to your post. Stare at the blinking cursor for awhile longer.

11. Decide to start typing before you even really know what you’re going to say. Let a few disjointed words flow from your fingers. Something like “blahdee blahdee blah, I have no idea what to write about.”

12. Delete delete delete.

13. Actually come up with a semi-plausible idea, start typing. Three sentences in, realize you’ve already communicated the entire idea and three sentences does not a blog post make.

14. Delete delete delete.

15. Start physically looking around you in hopes that someone might have written a prompt on the wall or in the dusty corners of a shelf somewhere. Zero in on each object around you like you’re waiting for it to sprout legs, walk over to your keyboard and start typing for you.

16. Reminisce about the fact that today at work, post ideas were practically spilling out of your ears. And in fact, whenever you are NOT actively trying to blog, there seems to be so much to write about. But the moment you sit down to communicate them, the ideas all scurry like cockroaches when you flip on a light switch. Be annoyed about this, for a minute.

17. Suddenly, allow everything to become inspiration. As you look around, be murmuring ideas to yourself about every piece of your surroundings. It’s cloudy out, you could write about seasonal depression. You are surrounded by all of your favorite books, you could write a response to one of them or write a post in the style of a specific author. A bird just flew by, you could write about how your old boss was terrified of birds. You always thought that was illogical, but then she also thought it was illogical that you were afraid of sharks. You could write a post justifying your fear of sharks.

18. Start writing one of those posts. Quickly realize they weren’t very good ideas to begin with.

19. Delete delete delete.

20. Decide that maybe today isn’t a blogging day, after all. Give yourself a break. Everybody gets writer’s block. JK Rowling made people wait three years for the fifth Harry Potter book, you can certainly hold off on posting for one more day. Walk away from your blogging area and do something else.

21. Feel guilty. Feel like you betrayed yourself somehow. Feel like you made a commitment and flaked on it. Start shaming yourself with these thoughts. Convince yourself that if you can’t follow-through on this then you’re probably never ever going to be a writer, and you might as well just give up now.

22. Sit back down. Stare at the blinking cursor some more.

23. Start to formulate an idea for a post.

24. Realize you have more to say than you originally thought.

25. Write the post. Feel pretty good about it.

26. Hover over the word “Publish,” but before you click – issue a brief apology to your readers that the most authentic blog post you could conjure up today was about your writer’s block. (Sorry guys.) Promise that next time you’ll write about something better.

…Like maybe your fear of sharks.

All The Reasons You Should Be Happy Right Now

1. You’re alive. Congratulations, friend! There was a time – a very long time, actually – when you did not exist. But then, like a freaking miracle you thrust your way into the world, and here you are! You were the little sperm who could. And after that, oh how you thrived! You’ve made it THIS FAR in life and survived it all! You have not been struck by lightning, or hit by a bus, or pushed off a cliff. You are a living, breathing being – and all of your cells and organs, every fiber of your body are constantly working their little microscopic butts off to keep it that way. They’re like trillions of little cheerleaders, all aiming for the same goal: keeping you alive, and happy and healthy. How great is that?


2. You’re human. It’s one thing just to exist, but you get to exist as the DOMINANT SPECIES of planet Earth. In fact, you get to be the only organism capable of pondering your own existence. You do not have to be a single-celled amoeba with no brain function, or a little guppy fish whose only goal in life is not to get eaten. You don’t even have to be a monkey who throws his poop without even knowing why. You get to be a human mother$#%!ing being, which means you can throw your poop and know exactly why. (Nobody else will know, but that’s beside the point.)


3. You can read. Or at least, I’m using deductive reasoning to assume you can read. And you may not have ever devoted any thought to it before now, but in case you weren’t aware: reading is a kinda big deal. One BILLION people in the world – in other words, 26% of the Earth’s adult population – cannot do what you’re doing right now. Which means you are exercising an ability that more than ¼ of your fellow humans do not share. That’s an astonishing fact; don’t take your literacy for granted!


4. More deductive reasoning: You have Internet access. And the Internet is awesome! Sure, it has a dark underbelly just like every other awesome thing… but at its core, the Internet means access to immeasurable amounts of information and worldwide communication. We live in a time when the possibilities of education and human connection are very literally endless. Living in the technological age that we do is a truly incredible thing. Which brings me to…


5. You live RIGHT NOW. Which is really very fortunate, because there is a lot less to worry about than there used to be. Someone already discovered fire and invented the wheel, so that’s one less thing on your to-do list. You do not have to hunt and gather your food. You are not in danger of being sold into slavery. You cannot be denied service or the right to vote based on your gender or the color of your skin. Not all of this was true, even one generation ago.


6. Music exists. And not to sound too much like a hippie, but you guys – music is the best. I don’t even have anything else to say here. If you’re ever feeling unhappy, just hunker down, get a good playlist going and listen to some tuuuuunes, maaannn. A personal favorite of mine is Aqueous Transmission by Incubus, which is a musical achievement so fantastic that according to its Wikipedia page it has generated a “cult-like following,” and Brandon Boyd is quoted as saying that the purpose of the song was to make “the listener pee in his/her pants” from relaxation. If ONE song has that kind of potential, it makes something as trivial as unhappiness seem like nothing a good mix tape couldn’t solve.


7. There are people in this world who love you. Yeah, buddy, YOU! Even if you’re a jerk. Even if you’re Robert Pattinson. Everyone in the whole world is loved. There is all kinds of love flowing toward you, all the time. If you have family, your family loves you. If you have friends, even better! Your friends chose you. Of course they love you. And if you don’t have any family or friends, HEY, I love you. You living, breathing, literate human being you. So take a deep breath, smile, and go find happiness in this big beautiful world of ours.

7 General Beauty Questions I Have for Other Females

I came across a Pinterest post the other day, entitled “The Right Way to Wash Your Face… In 7 Easy Steps.”
In the split-second that it took me to read that title, my brain was already short-circuiting. I hadn’t even CLICKED on it yet, and there was already so much to be alarmed about. Here, in chronological order, was my exact play-by-play reaction:
ONE: The right way to wash your face? As in, there’s a wrong way? Is face-washing really that complex? Such a labyrinthine process that people need help navigating it? Are there people out there scrubbing their faces with motor oil, cursing the sky in frustration and hoping that someone will come along, take them by the hand, and illustrate the rightway to do it?
TWO: D’uhhh… 7 steps? SEVEN?! Apparently I am one of the aforementioned wayward souls in need of direction, because I cannot even wrap my head around the idea of there being seven steps to washing your face. Unless the steps went something like:
1.)  Obtain a face.
2.)  Gain access to running water.
3.)  Find some soap.
4.)  Read this article.
5.)  Wash face.
6.)  Be happy with self for having washed face.
7.)  Do Christopher Walken impression in mirror.
THREE: Oh phew, at least they’re seven EASY steps. As opposed to all the other face washing tips out there, which call for seven DIFFICULT steps. Or five really easy steps, and two especially challenging ones.
Even if it’s the “right” way to do it, I will never be the kind of girl to devote that kind of time / energy to my face. It’s stuff like this that highlights my absolute inabilityto be a female. There are just SO. MANY. THINGS. involved in womanhood that I will never understand, and have no immediate hopes to begin understanding.
This has always been the case, since I was a wee babe, 11 years old and reading Cosmo… I figured someday I would just wake up, swing my feet off the bed and step into the world as a mature, high-heel-wearing, mascara-using lady. But the years passed, and as I blossomed into an adult I did not develop any of the ladylike characteristics I imagined I would. Instead, I feel like I spend more time impersonating a girl than actually being one.
And now, when I come across articles like this, it only amplifies my curiosity. I wish I were some kind of official researcher, so that I could conduct studies on this strange female race of which I am apparently a member. Instead, I have compiled a list of all the things I just don’t understand, which I will now send off into the universe (boys, you can probably sit this one out. Go have yourself an ice cream cone, you’ve been a real trooper.):
Dear fellow females,
WTF is up with…
1.) TIME. Don’t worry ladies, this one I actually have figured out already. Obviously, in order to leave the house every morning looking that polished and put-together, I am sure you must have some kind of time-altering technology. Right?! This is the absolute only explanation I can conjure for how you would still be able to get a full 8 hours of sleep while devoting enough time to looking that fantastic. Is there some kind of application process required to obtain such a device? Do I need references? Please advise, thx.
2.) DESIGNER NAILS. I don’t have anything negative to say about a cute set of nails. They are, truthfully, adorable. AW, is that a flower?! And a bumble bee? DID YOU PAINT YOUR NAILS TO LOOK LIKE A PEACOCK’S FEATHER?! You are wonderful and talented and your nails are nothing short of amazing. But it makes me sad to look at them, because I’m not sure whether you realize that they are 100% temporary. It would be like Picasso creating all his masterpieces with sidewalk chalk. They’re gorgeous, but that probably took a lot of work, and I know for an absolute fact that in T-Minus 22 hours they will chip. Period. A day after that, at least one nail will have an entire corner missing. And before long they will be so ugly that you won’t even be able to see the feather design anymore – you’ll just be faced with the painful decision of either waiting for their inevitable demise, or swabbing them yourself. Was it worth it? The tedious hours involved in their perfection? Wouldn’t you rather have put that kind of effort onto, say, a canvas? Then we could all enjoy it forever!
3.) SHOES. What’s the big deal? They go on your feet. Socks go on your feet, too, but we don’t seem as obsessed with those. So I am utterly confused. From what I understand, many moons ago all the women of the world came together and held a meeting… during which they discussed the secret, magical power of shoes and why they are so vitally important to the female race. I think there was a Breaking Bad marathon on that day, so I must have missed the memo. Someone please brief me on their significance.
4.) CONTOURING. I don’t even have anything else to say about this one, I just want answers. WTF is this.
5.) SHOPPING. I legitimately must be missing something here, because here is my take on shopping: You sift through racks upon racks of clothing, literally 80% of which is not your size / style. On the off chance that you actually find something you like, you take it to the dressing room only to find out half the time that it doesn’t look like you thought it would, or fits you weird, or doesn’t match anything in your existing wardrobe. Even if it somehow passes that test, you then have to stare at it for another 15 minutes – because sure it’s cute, but is it [INSERT DOLLAR AMOUNT] worth of cute? And the answer is alwaysno. Because clothes are always completely unnecessarily expensive. And the whole process takes, like, hours and I feel like there are just so many better ways to spend my life. (See # 1) And then EVEN ONCE IT’S ALL OVER you have to go again in another few months because now everything you just bought is out of style. No thanks y’all, I’ll stick to my existing pair of ripped jeans that I’ve been wearing since 10thgrade and call it a day.
6.) GENERAL PRODUCT PREFERENCES. I have never, in my 24 years of life, said, “this beauty product is better than the others” about anything. Which makes shopping for products an uneventful affair, because I pretty much just reach for whatever’s on sale / on the shelf closest to my outstretched hand. Consequentially, I’ve probably used just about every product at some time or another – and so far, nothing has wowed me enough to have me searching for it the next time around. So I find it fascinating that some women are so loyal to a single brand. What factor could possibly influence your shampoo-buying decision that heavily? And can there really be that much variation in mascara?
7.) SHAVING CREAM. I think the other issue is my complete lackof beauty product usage to begin with. For instance, does anyone actually use shaving cream to shave their legs? And if the answer is yes, why? I mean, is there some advantage to just using the soap in the shower? And be honest on this one, can you look me straight in the eye and tell me that conditioner is ABSOLUTELY essential to your hair? Is there science behind this?
These countless unanswered questions boggle my mind, and more and more arise every day. I sincerely hope that nobody will revoke my girl card for being so completely clueless, as I go upstairs and try to elongate my face-washing process into seven easy steps.
(I wrote this to be primarily rhetorical, but if you truly do have any answers for me I am legitimately curious, and all ears.)

Five Things You’ll Notice When You Move to the Pacific Northwest

As some of you may know, I recently moved to the Portland area. (Oh, you didn’t know? Then HI THERE, new reader! Welcome to my blog! Here, pull up a chair! Have a Tootsie Pop!)
Having been born and raised in San Diego (where the beach is a logical activity choice 360 days a year, and the “snow” we sometimes see in movies / on the news seems so far away that it’s borderline-fictional), this move represented quite a culture shock for me. I have been here a little over a month now, and it seems like every day I am wide-eyed at another novelty – a constant reminder that I’m not in Kansas anymore.
So I offer a guide, to anyone following in my footsteps, on what you can expect if you make a similar move.

1.) I have two words for you, America: Fred. Meyer. Remember when Target started carrying some limited groceries, and you were all, “Hey, that would be cool if Target just straight-up ALSO became a grocery store. Then I could pretty much just set up camp and live here forever.” But then you sighed and went back to your mediocre day, because Super Targets do NOT exist in your neighborhood and you are doomed to a life of disappointment. GUESS WHAT! I have seen salvation, and its name is Fred Meyer! Do you need socks? Olive oil? A flatscreen TV? Avocados? An engagement ring? Toothpaste? A dining room table? WORRY NOT, CONSUMER, FRED MEYER’S GOT THAT ISH COVERED! Literally trying to come up with things that Fred Meyer does not carry has become a fun little game for me. It’s like Ralph’s, Target, and JC Penny all came together, and Fred Meyer is their gorgeous, scandalous lovechild.
2.) Yeah, it rains. So what? When people found out I was moving, “rain” seemed to be the word I heard most often. Probably because, admittedly, rain is somewhat of a source of fear for San Diegans. When water falls from the sky in SoCal, the whole world more or less stops. Traffic accidents skyrocket, indoor malls and movie theaters become packed, people watch the rain through closed blinds and avoid going outside altogether. And when I arrived here initially, I confess that I, too, could be seen running from my car into a building with my jacket over my head like the sky was falling. Honestly, I might as well have worn a blinking neon sign that said NOT A LOCAL. Because, truthfully, when there is almost never a time that it’s not wet outside, it just legitimately is not that big of a deal.

That is one confident weather report.
3.) Also, sometimes it snows. And apparently, that’s when the world herestops. From what I understand it doesn’t happen often, and when it does it rarely sticks to the ground long enough to matter, but as I type this right now it is snowing outside my window. And even though it’s only 2pm, everybody in the neighborhood is already home from work. All of the schools let out early, and all of the offices are closed. You know why? Because there’s snow. On the roads. And that is, apparently, a valid reason to go home early / not go to work to begin with. And I think that is just fantastic.

The view outside my window… or lack thereof.
4.)  But seriously though, the weather. It’s cold. No wait I don’t think you’re listening. I mean, it’s really cold. It’s so cold that if I’m outside for too long I start touching my face just to make sure it’s still there. The rain was a piece of cake, and the snow is more exciting than anything, but the cold is gonna take some seriousgetting used to. I didn’t realize how much more MAINTENANCE is required in these temperatures! Last night I had to sleep with all the faucets dripping so the pipes wouldn’t freeze over. Because that’s a thing, apparently. Thank god I have a proactive landlord to provide these kinds of directions, because otherwise I would have been the water-free village idiot who has never lived in freezing temperatures before.
5.) The Clothes! I do not exaggerate when I say that until recently, my closet contained only one solitary long-sleeved shirt. ONE! Living where there is actual weather has broadened the availability of wardrobe options tenfold. Of course, as a San Diego resident I certainly had my fair share of scarves and beanies – you know, for when the temperature dropped below 70 or so… But now these items serve an actual function. And I feel like I’m rediscovering my closet all over again, and it is absolutely fabulous. (Legwarmers! Not just a ballerina fashion statement after all!)
I think, at some point, I was maybe planning on having more than five things on this list, but to be continued CUZ I’M GONNA GO PLAY IN THE SNOW. KBYE!

This is my “THE-WHOLE-WORLD-IS-WHITE!” face.

Alternative Resolutions We Should All Have for 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!
Ah, the New Year. For me, having just hours ago settled into my new place up North (with no cable or internet yet, and very little furniture to speak of), it meant counting down to midnight on my phone and toasting champagne in my new cardboard-box-filled living room. For most people, it’s a time of reflection, anticipation, hope, and Best-Of lists.
Oh right, and resolutions.
Data from this recent ball drop indicate that 62% of Americans made resolutions this year, while only 8% of those who made resolutions in 2013 claimed to have been successful. I like this statistic, because one, it’s basically the equivalent of saying: “If at first you don’t succeed, let yourself off the hook and give it another shot in a year or so.” But on the other hand, I sorta like the discrepancy between the two figures. 92% of people FAILED in keeping these promises to themselves last year, and yet two thirds of that group are back for more.  There’s a certain tenacity to it that I admire. That being said, I think we might have a collectively better success rate this year if we take a closer look at what it is we’re actually ‘resolving’ to do.
The most common resolution, by a wide margin, was weight loss and/or fitness goals. Predictably, every year in January there is a huge spike in the sale of gym memberships. Possibly more predictably, attendance invariably drops off again by March.
Another common resolution year after year is some derivative of “spend less, save more” – this presumably resulting from the average American’s household credit card debt currently hovering around $7,000. Regardless of annual resolutions to the contrary, this figure is steadily increasing.
One of the third most common resolutions is to quit smoking. This is perhaps the only one on this list with which Americans seem to have had some tangible success. Most recent data indicates that 18% of adults would identify themselves as “smokers,” down from 19% in 2011 and 20.6% in 2009.
Aside from that last one, it seems as though on the whole, resolutions were made to be broken. This fact somewhat depresses me, but not for the obvious reasons. I don’t think that it necessarily denotes that we are blundering failures, or that we should just give up trying altogether. I think, rather, it just means that we’re putting our focus in all the wrong places.
Don’t get me wrong; I think a world with less obesity and tobacco-related deaths would be a great thing, and it would certainly be nice if everyone were largely debt-free. But rather than concentrate on these somewhat self-focused resolutions, I think the New Year should be an opportunity to reflect on how we can become better to the people around us. To put it in more cheesy terms, becoming a better citizen of the world. If I ruled the universe, here is what I wish the whole world would resolve to do in 2014:

1. Perform random acts of kindness. Recently, a friend of mine told me a story about how the person in front of him at a Starbucks drive-through paid for his drink. The way he told this story, you would honestly think he won the lottery or got Megan Fox’s phone number. He was completely floored by the gesture, and – here’s the best part – he, in turn, paid for the person behind him. We wondered together if the person in front of him had also gotten their drink paid for, and if so, how long the chain of do-gooders went. The fact that he paid it forward is my favorite part of the whole thing – he was given the option of free coffee, and instead still chose to spend money at Starbucks. So while the ultimate result of the adventure was technically no different… it brightened the day of everybody involved.
2. Recognize that the people with whom you interact on a daily basis are just that – PEOPLE.This covers all areas of human interaction. You may not want to actually contribute to the homeless man’s tin cup, but at least don’t give him a disgusted look as you walk by. When you’re on the road (I know this is hard to believe) everyone in the cars around you alsohave somewhere to be, and might also be in a hurry, so maybe just be nice and let them in instead of trying to “teach them a lesson.” Keep in mind that the customer service representative you’re dealing with is likely not personally responsible for whatever frustration you’re currently experiencing with their company/product, so try not to yell or condescend to them. If we try to maintain this mentality, we can start treating each other with dignity and respect.
3. Don’t hold grudges. You will never look back later in life and think “I should have stayed mad about that longer.” Anger and hatred are wasted energy, and the sooner you can learn to forgive and forget, the happier your life will ultimately be. If someone wronged you in a way you can’t forgive, fine. Remove them from your life. But don’t dwell, and don’t continue to harbor negative emotions about it – We are creatures of habit, and negativity breeds more negativity. Similarly, once you start to cultivate positive cognitive and emotional habits, those will multiply as well.
4. Pay somebody a compliment. Whenever someone tells me they like something about me – even when it comes from people who are contractually obligated to say such things, like my mom or my boyfriend – I find myself with a little extra spring in my step. Whether it’s a friend who just got a new haircut, or a coworker who did a particularly good job on a recent project, don’t let it go unnoticed. People like being acknowledged and appreciated, and a little kindness can go a long way.
5. Learn to apologize. Why is this sometimes such a difficult task to manage? If you make a mistake, own up to it. Whether it’s bumping into someone on the street or being a flake about returning your best friend’s phone calls, hold yourself accountable to being a good person. Nobody’s perfect, but part of the beauty of being “human” is having the ability to remedy it.
6. Remove envy from your emotional landscape. The other day someone mentioned casually that they thought Ana Ivanovic was sexy… and I immediately found myself poring through Google images trying to convince myself that my looks could compete with hers. Which UHHHH, they cannot, so my brain’s next logical conclusion was to hate her – and that’s unfair, because I’m sure Ana Ivanovic is a super person and is in no way deserving of my hatred. No good can come from comparing yourself to others, and doing so just generates unnecessary negative energy. Just do you!
7. Write handwritten thank-you notes. Or handwritten anything notes. It only takes an extra few minutes and means so much more than a text message or email. Which brings me to…
8. For the love of god, put the phone down. This one is tough, I get it. I’m battling with it myself. I cannot even remember a time when I didn’t use commercial breaks and stop lights to keep tabs on every single thing going on in my / everybody else’s life. First thing when I wake up, and last thing before I go to bed (and, oh, 62935691 times in between), I do my standard social media routine: Facebook–Twitter–Pinterest–Instagram–LinkedIn. Then, if I have time, check in on my favorite blogs, read a few news articles, take a Buzzfeed quiz… and then, because it’s been a few minutes now, re-check Facebook and Twitter again. Before I know it I’ve been on my phone for 45 minutes, and that’s time I’m never getting back. I’m now 45 minutes closer to my grave, and all I have to show for it are my Buzzfeed quiz results (my Mean Girls character is Cady Heron, and the city that most closely matches my personality is Paris. Thanks for asking). Let’s all commit to reversing this increasingly pathetic stereotype. This is your LIFE happening around you, after all.
9. Do a little something for the good of humanity. It doesn’t have to be huge – Donate your old clothes to Goodwill instead of just throwing them away. Pick up a stray piece of trash here and there and put it in the garbage. Rather than letting leftovers sit in your fridge for a week, give them to a homeless person outside the restaurant. Sort out your recyclables (and if you’re really adventurous, start a compost). Try taking small steps to contribute positively to the world around you.
10. Let someone know how important they are to you. I know this is cliché, and we hear it all the time, but there’s a reason for it. Life is too short to let “I love you”s go unsaid, and often times we don’t realize how much someone means to us until it’s too late to express it. Be it your parents, your best friend, or significant other – tell them you love them / miss them / how important and wonderful they are, loudly and often.
May 2014 be the year of good deeds and respect for our fellow Earth-dwellers.
Then again, if I happen to also lose a few pounds in the process, or start to bear a few similarities to Ana Ivanovic… well, we’ll just call it a win-win for everybody.