Category Archives: Suddenly Awesome: Life Hacks for Making Your Otherwise Ordinary Life Suddenly Awesome

100 Life Hacks for Making Your Otherwise Ordinary Life Suddenly Awesome

Self-improvement tips for the self-obsessed (like me): that’s pretty much what you’ll find here.

Following, a list of all of the quick, simple and, above all, practical tips (in other words, life hacks) I’ve offered on this blog so far. Some are spiritual, some are secular, some are well-known and some are a bit kooky … but, in my experience, all of them work. At least, they work to some degree. (Even the kooky ones.)

Hopefully you find something helpful here.

150 Life Hacks for Making Your Otherwise Ordinary Life Suddenly Awesome

The Spiritual Stuff:

The Shallow Stuff:

The Serious Stuff:

The Surprising Stuff:

The Love Stuff:

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Sometimes, You Have to Look for Love

I was single for a very long time, and I really loved it. But I really, really love being married, too. As it turns out, finding a life partner is not all that overrated. If anything, it is underrated. It is one of the greatest joys of my life. But then again, I suspected it would be, as do we all before we have it.

I love to look at David. I love to see him. He loves to touch me. He is supremely good. We are together almost constantly.

“When you can read a book, read a poem, take walks together, that is love.” That is what my dad told me one time.

“When you can be alone together,” he said, “That is love.”

He was right.

We are companions. We are happy. This is love.

And this is what I want everyone to have.

So, please. Please, please don’t put it off like I did, hoping some magic would come into play. If you want a partner, go out and find one. Do everything you can think of, including praying.

Take happiness into your own hands.

You can’t be responsible for everyone else in this world, but you can be responsible for that.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Know Your Own Strength

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As I told you before, so far in my life, I have been married twice. My second marriage—the real one, the one that has not yet been made legal—was to David, and my first marriage was to a man named Jake.

Jake was not a happy person. When we first started dating, we were in college and I remember him saying over and over, “I am so sick of college. I want to get out of here and start my career. If I do that, then I’m sure to be happy.”

A short time after that, he started his career. After that, he often said, “This career isn’t what I expected. Besides, I’m alone all the time and it sucks. I want to get married. If I do that, then I’m sure to be happy.”

A little while later, I married him, and you can probably guess what he said.

“Marriage is hard. I just want to be alone. If I can do that, then I’m sure to be happy.”

After that, we got divorced. This did make me happier but somehow I suspect the results were less decisive for him.

My ex-husband is not an evil person, of course. He is a good person, as we all are. But he does have one major problem, which is this: He doesn’t know his own strength.

He doesn’t know that his life is what he makes of it—only what he makes of it, and nothing else.

He doesn’t know he has power.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Do What You Want to Do, and Nothing Else

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Several years ago, I decided to go to a bible study. It was during the time in my life that I was still questioning my identity as a Christian and I wanted to ask the people there (who were very nice, by the way) some questions about their faith.

Most of the time, the meetings went something like this: First, the leader, Jason, would talk about either the importance of spending time with non-Christians to witness about your faith or the importance of spending time with Christians to help your faith grow.

“We have to build community,” he would implore one week.

“We have to spread the light of Christ,” he’d say the next.

Either way, though, what he was asking us to do was a lot of work.

After this talk ended, the group would pray together and then everyone would share their opinions on the topic of the day and agree with each other for about half an hour.

It was unproductive, but at least it usually went just as planned.

One meeting that I remember, though, the ending didn’t go as it was planned. There was a man there that seemed quite upset by the leader’s admonitions, and he wanted to talk about it.

“Jason,” he said. “I understand what you’re saying and I think it’s very admirable, but there’s a problem: I am out of time.

“Last week I worked seventy hours because my child needed new health insurance. I barely have any time to spend with my wife, much less a lot of friends.

“What’s more, it’s making me angry. I have road rage that I never had before. What do I do?”

What we did for that man, which I regret to this day, was to pray.

“Oh God,” we said, “Please help this man not have to work so much and be so busy. Please help him know that anger is a sin and that he has a choice in how he behaves. Amen.”

When we were done, I lifted my hand.

“Yes, Mollie?” Jason said.

“I just want to say that I don’t quite agree,” I said.

“Don’t agree with what?” Jason asked.

“I don’t agree that God expects us to always strive to do more good deeds like witnessing,” I said.

“Okay,” Jason said. “Why?”

“Nobody can do everything, and I don’t think that God wants us to.

“What God really wants for us is to be happy.”

After I said that, the leader quickly changed the subject, the meeting ended and we left.

***

The goal of religion is not happiness, and has never been. The goal of religion is doing good, and becoming a better person. Spirituality, on the other hand, causes you to become a better person because in doing so you also become happier.

And that, I think, is the major difference between the two.

And that is one of the reasons that I am not religious anymore, but simply spiritual. Because I believe that you cannot do any good in this world if you are not doing it by choice.

Think about it: What good do you do someone by being friends with them when you don’t really want to? What good to you do when you give up something for someone else that you don’t really want to give up?

None, I think.

Probably none at all.

I’m still learning this. There are certain relationships I have that I continue more out of obligation than love.

They need my help, I tell myself, but it’s not true. They don’t need help.

All they need is love.

And if it doesn’t come from me, than it should come from someone else, or from themselves.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Know That You Are Holy

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In his book Bluebeard, Kurt Vonnegut says something very profound. He says that he doesn’t think that people become enlightened when God speaks to us, but that it is when we finally let go of the idea that we need God or anything else, and when we let ourselves be most human, that our greatest epiphanies occur.

Until very recently, I didn’t understand what he meant. Being more human makes us more spiritual? I thought. How does that work?

After a while, though, I understood. I knew that that it was true, and the reason was very simple:

It’s because people are holy.

That’s right: People are holy. Even religious people are holy. Even Christians are holy. Even the worst person alive is holy.

Every action a person ever takes is holy, because it is the choice they are making about the kind of experience they want to have on this earth.

And when we finally realized this, and when we finally learn that we can make our own decisions without anyone’s help, even God’s, is when our greatest epiphanies and our highest enlightenment occurs.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Know That Life is a Game

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When I was a Christian, there were a lot of things that I had to believe in order to be what I was. I had to believe, for example, that the bible was completely true (which was hard sometimes, I might add). I had to believe that people who had different ideas about spirituality were going to hell (another bone of contention for me). And I also had to believe in the importance of marriage.

Those were the rules, you see—some of them, anyway. Those were the rules of the game.

Now, I didn’t make them up, as you may notice. But like the Button Pushers in the previous story who were trying to follow someone else’s rules (“Do what you are told” and “Trust people in authority”), I didn’t have to.

I just had to agree to play.

And so, that is why when I got married, I had very little doubt that I would stay married for a long time. My husband was a decent man, you see, and I loved him, and even though we didn’t always get along, I would continue to love him, because that is what I was supposed to do.

Then, something happened that changed all that. One fine evening, after having an argument with him, I suddenly said, without even thinking about it beforehand at all, “I am going to move out.”

And two weeks later, I did.

After that, I knew—even though I was still a Christian—that the rules were not always right.

My husband didn’t deserve to keep me just because he signed a paper, I realized. God wouldn’t even want it that way, would he? So how could leaving—which my husband was quite in favor of, believe me—be wrong?

Very soon after this happened, this new way of thinking affected other areas of my life as well. After I moved out on my own, for example, I signed up for a dating website (which before I thought was in itself an act of lack of faith) and found a new boyfriend, Josh, who wasn’t a Christian but was very sweet to me and got me through that very hard time.

I don’t deserve to be lonely just because I’m not married anymore, I realized. Josh is good to me, and I am good to him, and we are not hurting anyone at all.

After that, for the first time in my life, I had sex outside of marriage with no guilt at all.

Six months later, I met my husband David in the same way, and we are still not technically married, and I am glad.

***

Life is a game. And the game is anything you want it to be. It can be a test. It can be a school. It can be a playground. It can be a journey.

It can be a competition.

Life is a game, and if you want it to have a purpose—a purpose that is good, and helpful, and loving, and kind, like I do—do this one little but highly significant thing: Choose it wisely.

Don’t be talked into playing a game you don’t really believe in just because you’re too lazy to think for yourself. Figure it out. Figure out what’s best for you, right here, right now, in this life. Then, no matter what it is, and even if others don’t agree:

Live it. Live it well. Get good at it, and play.

And, while you’re at it, dear reader: Have fun.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Get a Religion

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While I was still a Christian, my goal in life—the thing I aspired to more than anything else—was to change. I didn’t think I’d ever be perfect, of course—according to my faith, that wasn’t even possible. But I did hope to one day get as close as anyone could, which is why, during this time, I read a book about a Catholic priest named Brother Andrew who attempted to do what the scriptures implored: to “pray without ceasing.” The book chronicled his happy experience, and as I read it, I decided that one day (not right then, but one day), I would do the same.

Years passed. I lost my faith (and not only due to watching too much television). By the time that Jane—who my husband David and I and her other good friends called and still call Baby Jane—left us so unexpectedly, it had been about two years since I’d given a great deal of thought to religion. I still believed in God, and I still believed in heaven (so to speak), and I still believed in things I couldn’t see.

But I wasn’t much sure about anything else.

Like what it meant to me.

Something interesting happened after she left, though: I started looking into spiritual things again.

It was time, I decided. It was time.

It was maybe even the reason she was here.

And here’s the amazing part: After I decided to become spiritual again, even though my beliefs were considerably different from the beliefs I used to have, all of it—all of what I learned as a Christian about praying, and believing, and having purpose—came right back.

I remembered that book about Brother Andrew that I’d loved so much, and I read it again.

And it was even better the second time.

As I read it, I decided again that one day, I would do what Brother Andrew did. I would pray without ceasing.

Of course, I haven’t started yet. (I haven’t “had the time,” as they say.) Someday, though, I will, and I will write to you about it, just as he did, dear reader.

I promise.

Until then, though, let me just take what meaning I can from all this and say that believing in Jesus as my savior was not a bad thing. It wasn’t a waste of time. All those years I spent praying and reading the bible and going to church was the best thing I could have done.

It taught me how to love, and how to give, and how, of course, to pray.

It taught me how to believe.

It taught me how to be spiritual.

It taught me how to do all of the things that I want to do now a lot more.

It got me ready.

Thank you, mom, and thank you, dad, forever.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Get in the Flow

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It’s what we all want, but few of us get.

On a regular basis, anyway.

It’s called “flow,” and with his book (aptly titled Flow)writer/psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (I think I spelled that right) has built a reputation on the concept.

Here’s the idea in a nutshell: We should try to create a sense of “flow”–a happy “in the zone” feeling–in our work. This will not only make work more enjoyable; it will make us more productive, too.

Work, in fact, will begin to feel like play.

But how do you do this? Here’s Mihaly’s “secret sauce,” so to speak:

1. Make your work more challenging. Work that requires skill is more fulfilling.

2. Absorb yourself completely in what you’re doing. Lose your self-consciousness, even.

3. Give yourself clear goals and get frequent feedback on your progress.

4. Have a sense of independence and control at work. (This is a great one, I think. Autonomy is a huge part of why I like working for myself.)

What do you think about these tips? Do you enjoy at least a couple of these “flow factors” at your work? I’d love to hear about it.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Don’t Steal (Yeah, You)

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A bit of a book review today for you: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely.

Here’s an overview: Full of cutting-edge psychological research on the science of happiness, this book details the way our brains consistently, reliably (you know: predictably) cause us to make bad decisions. A researcher himself, Ariely also draws on numerous studies by his colleagues to make this one point repeatedly.

Here’s an interesting tidbit: Did you know that employee theft outweighs all other kinds of criminal theft combined–by far? The reason, Ariely argues, is that our brains don’t “switch on” the guilt response until theft or dishonesty reaches a certain level; in other words, there is no negative emotional response that hinders us from stealing small amounts from our employer–or anyone else–even though over time they add up significantly.

In the study cited on this, lots of Harvard students were tempted to cheat on an exam in different ways, with different chances of getting caught. Thing is, though everybody who could cheat did (a little), the ones with the least chance of getting caught (the test was torn up and they just took their monetary reward straight from a dime jar) cheated no more than those who had some chance of getting caught (they could visibly change answers on their tests before the researcher got to it).

So. My get happy tip for the day: When it comes to temptation, don’t rely on your guilt reflex to get you through.

Rely on your rationality.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Don’t Be a Good Person

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Once, my father gave me some more of his very good advice. One day we were talking at his house and I don’t remember how the subject came up but I said, “Dad? Am I a good person?”

He could tell how important it was that he answer carefully, so he leaned back in his chair and looked at me with a smile and said, “Yes, Mollie, you are a good person. Of course you are. But don’t worry about that.”

“Don’t worry about it?” I said. That was the first time I’d ever heard anyone say such a thing.

“No,” he said. “That’s not the way to live. You don’t need to be any good to anyone else. You don’t need to do ‘good deeds’ and be a ‘good person.’ Just live the way God meant you to when he made you. See, he made you just like you are with your own DNA that nobody else has, because that’s the way he likes you. Do that, and don’t worry about anything else, and you’ll be fine.”

I nodded my head.

It was just what I needed to hear.

Not long after that—maybe about a year or so later, while I was still in high school—we had a similar conversation.

It was about failure.

It was late and night and we were sitting on my dad’s two big living room chairs by the fire that in his house went all winter long, and I began telling him about all of the things I wanted to accomplish in my life.

“What if I don’t do all the things I want to do?” I asked him. “Do you think I will? Do you think I’ll be a writer?”

His response—and it is very close to exactly word-for-word—I know because I wrote it down not long afterward—was this: “It took me fifty years to figure out that what you accomplish doesn’t really matter . . . and I’ve only known that for fourteen years.

“But it was worth the wait.

“I regret some things in my life—bad things I’ve done to people, those are the things you should regret—but I don’t regret failing. Because eventually, I realized: It doesn’t matter.

“And I have peace inside now, and now that I have realized this, it’s okay that it took fifty years to learn. Because that’s all I needed to do.

“Give it a shot, Mollie. You’ve got a good shot. But if you fail, don’t worry about it.

It doesn’t matter.”

It was some of the best advice I’ve ever heard, including anything I’ve read in books.

That’s just his talent, I guess.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Forget Your Memories

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Sometimes, bad things just seem to happen.

That’s the way life is, after all.

And since we can’t prevent all those annoyances, today, a little “happiness hack” that subverts some of their nasty side-effects, namely, the bad memories they evoke later on. And here it is:

Just forget them.

That’s right: When something bad happens to you, there’s no rule in life that says you have to remember it and obsess about it for years to come. Instead, when it comes to mind, you can just say to yourself, “Yeah, that kinda sucked.”

And then move on.

But here’s the real trick: learning to replace it with a better memory.

In the book Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealthauthors Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener suggest just that. Interpretation is vital to happiness, they say. Choosing to retain happy memories over unhappy ones is important because there is only so much room in your brain.

In other words: Since you can’t remember everything, you might as well choose to remember the good!

I like it, guys. Thanks for that.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Don’t Try to Be a Cute Waitress

Image from the law of attraction book list featuring all major law of attraction authors at lawofattractionproject.com

For a long time, I very much wanted to be cool, just like everyone else.

I was not successful.

When I was a waitress, for example, I looked at all of the other waitresses who were so young and so cute (by the time I quit I’d reached the advanced waitressing age of twenty-six), and even though I liked my job and I was good at it, too, when I compared myself with them I felt completely inadequate.

Then, a few years later—it must have been around the time after I graduated college when I decided I didn’t need friends anymore—I realized I wasn’t so bad after all.

I didn’t even look that bad.

I was—in my own way—kind of cute. And I was smarter than them, anyway, and much more interesting.

The problem wasn’t me, and hadn’t been all along.

The problem was that I was comparing myself to the wrong people.

And so, suddenly, unexpectedly, and almost all at once, I made a decision:

I decided that I would be proud of being a dork.

I decided that I didn’t need anyone else’s approval but my own.

I became confident.

After that, somehow, without even trying, I was suddenly much, much less of a dork than before. And these days, I’m not really one at all.

I just pretend to be.

I even know how to dress.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am not cool, either. I’m still way too passionate and excitable and I’m even sillier now than I used to be. True dorks, though, don’t really like themselves. Or, if they do, they don’t like to admit it.

They try to be someone else.

And I don’t do that anymore. Not often, anyway. I’m not embarrassed when I come underdressed to a nightclub or overdressed to a party. I say stupid things and admit when I don’t know something. I ask questions. I say something controversial in order to get an argument started when the conversation has become a little dull.

I’m okay with being wrong, or less admired.

So you see: Maybe I’m not a dork, and maybe I am.

Maybe I can even be both.

Maybe, whenever I want to, I can just change the definition.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Lose Your Shirt

Image from the law of attraction book list featuring all major law of attraction authors at lawofattractionproject.com

You’ve just been robbed.

Someone took $50 from your wallet, and you feel terrible about it.

$50 is a lot of money, after all. You worked hard for that, darn it.

But wait–what’s that letter there? Is that a check for $150 in your mail? Why, yes, it is.

But do you feel better now?

Though it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, psychologists say the answer to that is a resounding “no.”

It’s called “loss aversion,” and it’s one of the things that makes our brains so screwy. It seems that according to studies, people feel much worse about losing $50 than they feel good about gaining $150. That’s because our brains are hard-wired to protect ourselves and our possessions at any cost.

And it leads to a lot of really bad decisions.

Like clinging to that extra $5,000 on the asking price of your home, while passing up a really good deal on a new one that you could only afford after you sell.

Like keeping your old car around because you’ve put so much money into it, even though it just keeps needing more repairs.

And those are just two examples. In his book The Paradox of ChoiceBarry Schwartz gives lots more. He talks about, among other things, the importance of not letting your emotional aversion to loss cloud your thinking, especially when making financial decisions.

And that’s a get happy tip we could all stand to implement more often.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Get a Mantra

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One day while I was in college, while I was walking back to my apartment after class, I realized something: I felt terrible.

I was tired, and lonely, and heavy, and drained. I was just … weak. Weak all over.

Why am I feeling like this? I asked myself as I walked. And why do I feel like this so often? More important, what can I do to make it go away?

And then I had an idea.

It was just a little idea, and very insignificant, and I didn’t really think that it would work. Still, I clung to it with the desperation a truly depressed person sometimes feels.

I decided to get a mantra.

I didn’t call it that, of course. (Christians don’t have mantras, don’tcha know.) But all the way home, I repeated a single sentence to myself, and it was a very wonderful and simple sentence—one of the most wonderful and simple sentences there is—and it was this:

“Thank you God.”

I said it over and over again as I walked, and by the time I got home, I felt better. Much better, even.

It was a discovery. One I recommend.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Be a Little Miss Goody-Two-Shoes

Image from the law of attraction book list featuring all major law of attraction authors at lawofattractionproject.com

“Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.” – Simone Weil

Most of my life, I’ve been something of a goody-goody. I know, I know. Annoying. But the thing is, I like being, more or less, good. Because not being good often ends up in one of three ways:

1. Embarrassment (for being immature, unprofessional, unkind, you name it);

2. Guilt; or

3. Just plain messing things up.

So be good. Don’t be a judgmental goody-goody, of course. But yeah. Be a good person.

You’ll be glad you did. Almost every time.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Tell Yourself Lies

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This is how I finally got rid of my need for a man:

First, I realized that I was not happy being around certain people, and there was nothing good that came from my relationships with them. I let go of the idea that I was going to help them by being their friend.

That was step number one.

The second step was a little more complicated than that:

I told myself lies.

I don’t need anyone, I told myself. I like to be alone. Anyway, having friends is too complicated, and too time-consuming, and what do you really get out of it, anyway? Support? Love? Acceptance? I don’t need that—not really.

I am, all by myself, strong.

Not long after I made this decision, the lies worked. I was happy being alone—happier than I’d ever been before, anyway. Things really were less complicated when I wasn’t trying to please other people, and instead just living for myself.

I was free, and I loved it.

And, even as I look back on it now, I don’t think I was wrong to feel that way. Relationships can be a burden, after all, and if you let them, they can even make you dull.

Being alone, I still believe, is truly the most romantic way to live.

When I lived alone, everything was either terrible or wonderful. I spent every night without anyone to cuddle, which was terrible.

But I took long walks by myself at night and looked at the city—at the water and the bridges and the alleys—and some things were beautiful, and some things were not, but together they were all perfect, like a poem.

And that, at least, was wonderful.

It was romantic in a way you can never be romantic with another person.

And that is why I recommend it even now.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Don’t Have Willpower

Image from the law of attraction book list featuring all major law of attraction authors at lawofattractionproject.com

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am totally a willpower person. I am the BEST dieter I know, for instance, and I’m pretty diligent in other areas of my life as well. But here’s the thing:

All in all, forcing yourself to change just doesn’t work as well as we hope it will.

That’s the message of a great self-help book called Switch by Chip and Dan Heath.

I read this one a while ago, and took a few notes. Just for you, my dear reader.

You know: ’cause I love you.

Here are some of the awesome takeaways:

1. Relying on mental strength or willpower tires us. People who were asked not to eat a cookie during an experiment showed greater mental fatigue and gave up sooner on a quiz than people who were allowed to eat it before the experiment began.

2. Change your environment instead. Not buying ice cream in the first place greatly improves your chances of success on a diet.

3. We can train our feelings! Meditation actually helps us feel differently about whatever it is we want to change about ourselves. These good feelings give us the internal motivation to continue on the right path.

I love this stuff, don’t you?

Now, personally, I won’t be giving up my reliance on willpower entirely anytime soon. I’m just way too attached to it. But if I can make it a little easier to use by changing my environment and training my feelings? Heck, yeah, baby.

I’m all about making things easier on myself when doing so actually works.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Get an Addiction

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I am what people call “passionate,” and not a little compulsive, and I’ve always been that way, and, maybe, so have you.

But here’s the thing: Even if you aren’t a naturally compulsive person like I am, you are probably addicted to something.

Everybody, I think, is addicted to something.

Even a total ascetic is addicted to something—God, maybe, or prayer.

A sense of meaning.

Being good. Feeling enlightened.

I don’t know. But we all have things we would hate to be without, and wouldn’t be very happy to let go of—and, for most of us, more than one.

Most of us, indeed, have quite a few.

The problem is, we never talk about the things we like to do that way. Not seriously, anyway. We act as if no one should ever be addicted to anything—as if staying away from addiction should be our only goal. And that’s why I’m going to tell you a secret about overcoming addiction, and it’s one that hasn’t let me down so far:

The best way to get rid of a bad addiction is to replace it with a good one.

***

These are my addictions—not all of them, probably, but enough that you get the idea: eating fat, drinking coffee, drinking diet soda, biting my nails, taking walks, making love, planning endlessly for the future, working, cuddling with David, reading, taking baths, shaving my legs, talking with friends, praying, and trying to lose five pounds.

These are the things that I look forward to doing every day. They’re the things that I can’t imagine giving up.

They’re my addictions.

They’re not just things I like to do:

They’re things I do to keep away the pain.

***

When I was in college and I was struggling so much with my almost desperate (okay, desperate) need for a man, sometimes, I asked for help, and, sometimes, people tried to give it to me. They said things like “Learn to depend only on God” and “You don’t need anyone else to be happy.”

I wish they hadn’t said these things. I wish they would have said something more useful instead. Something like: “Find a job you love and just never do anything else,” or “Find a man you’re not in love with and date him ’till you’re sick of the whole thing.”

I wish they’d have told me to get addicted to something else—something relatively harmless that would have made me forget about needing a man.

I wish they would have been more practical.

Eventually, I figured this out for myself. After that day at my friends’ house when I decided I didn’t want to date anymore, I started reading a lot more, and taking a lot of walks. I found other things to do to fill my time and soon, it wasn’t hard at all to be alone.

I just wish I had figured it out sooner.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Pretend to Be Good

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In The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (an awesome book, by the way), the author says something I really, really like. See, she’s something of a researcher (something of? she’s a researcher), and her book is stock full of these awesome little scientific ideas. One of them that I just love is this:

People subconsciously transfer to you the traits you give to others.

That’s right. When you say something negative about someone, that comment “bounces off of them and sticks to you.”

And when you compliment someone, the same thing happens–and, suddenly, you’re golden.

It’s called “spontaneous trait transference,” and it’s totally real. And when I heard about it, I just had to share. After all, what’s an easier way to look good than to just start complimenting others more? It might even be considered–well, what exactly? I know: An “angel hack!” All of the great rep points but none of the work!

Doesn’t get any better than that.

Life Hack for Getting Suddenly Awesome: Fall in Love, Part Two

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One time, I watched a documentary about a rehab center that helped young women get out of prostitution. Before seeing that program, I had always assumed that these girls did what they did for the money.

As it turns out, though, that’s not always the case.

One of the former prostitutes they interviewed talked about the man who, when she was thirteen years old, first introduced her to that lifestyle.

She loved him, she said. She still loved him.

Even now, she said—even after knowing what he did to her at such a vulnerable age—it was hard to stay away.

And she wasn’t the only one. Most of the other girls in the program felt the same way.

They sneaked out at night to see their pimps, and some of them never came back.

After seeing that documentary and thinking about it for a while, I realized something:

The desire for love isn’t a desire at all.

It is a need.

It is a great, roaring human need, and anyone who tells you otherwise is not doing you any good.

They might as well tell you to stop eating.

And that, my dear reader, is why I’m not going to tell you to be alone. Not that I don’t think it’s wise, sometimes, and often, the best thing you could possibly do.

But because the advice isn’t practical.

I spent quite a few years alone, several of them actually happy and all of them meaningful, and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. But they ended with me marrying the wrong person, because no matter what I told myself to get through it, the truth was: I was lonely.

Of course, it could have ended a lot worse.

Actually, it all went pretty darn well for me in the end.

But it was a risk.