advice you would do well to keep


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  1. Always pick up hitchhikers. They are usually angels in disguise.
  2. Never date a woman who feels like “family.” She probably has many more problems that she initially seems to, and the reason she feels familiar is because you’ve already been down this road before. Look where it led you the last time!
  3. Don’t struggle to read books you find boring. There are plenty more out there that will delight and inspire you. The time you spend plowing through a laborious read is time you are taking away from the delightful ones.
  4. Anything you cheerfully give away will come back to you in some form. If you give reluctantly, you will indeed lose out.
  5. Most things worth doing are harder than they initially seem to be and will take longer to accomplish than you had hoped. But they’re still worth doing.
  6. If you don’t want a haircut, don’t hang around barbershops.
  7. If you don’t want to buy something on impulse, don’t troll through Amazon or eBay.
  8. You can’t spend your way out of debt.
  9. When somebody says “Honestly….,” or “To tell the truth…,” that means he’s lying.
  10. People without hidden problems and addictions usually don’t need to borrow money.
  11. If somebody asks you a question and wants you to give an immediate answer, that proves they don’t have your best interests at heart. At times like that, it’s best to say “Let me get back to you.”
  12. Young women who are addicted to their cell phones do not make good girlfriends.
  13. When two vampires are working a crowded room, they spot one another immediately.
  14. If you are an older man and an attractive woman in her early twenties assures you that she likes older men, that means she thinks they’re easy prey.
  15.  Many people are waiting for a miracle to get them out of a situation of their own making. Wouldn’t it be easier simply to learn the lesson and forget about miracles?
  16. Never buy the cheapest or the most expensive of anything.
  17. Most things that are supposedly being sold at a “sale” price, aren’t really any cheaper than they were before this supposed promotion began. The “sale” is simply a snare for those prone to impulse buying, which is itself a compulsion and resistant to logic.
  18. Young men who drive recklessly and identify strongly with beer brands have little to offer anyone until they grow up. For a variety of reasons, this may never happen
  19. Most people are working for the Man, but have deluded themselves into thinking that it’s just a temporary state of affairs. It isn’t.
  20. The longer you continue to lie to yourself, the harder it is to do something about it.

 

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The Fundamental Error


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THE FUNDAMENTAL PERCEPTUAL FLAW BEHIND MOST UNHAPPINESS

In the long run, what really matters is how we spend our time, not what we accomplish. If you have enough money to not worry about having enough money, then you can do something else with your time than make money. If you have enough stuff, then getting more will not make you happier. But what you do with this fleeting gift of time and health does matter. In fact, it’s all that matters.

Advertising and promotion make it seem like there’s something other than what’s right in front of you that will make all the difference to your happiness. That’s the fundamental error in a nutshell. Once you buy that lie, then you’re hooked on searching for different solutions to the same invented problem. So your life becomes a hustle, a chase, and the moments that might have been worthwhile seem empty and trivial. You’ve been sold a bill of goods!

When you seem to be on the winning side of that hustle, the illusion is exhilarating. You’re a winner! You’re managing your life well and reaping the just rewards of such diligence. You’re a smart shopper, a wise investor, a clever player.

On the other hand, when nothing seems to be going your way, then you’re in need of expert advice, a consultation, a series of tests, a new drug. It’s easy to see how arbitrary and foolish this dividing the present moment into “fun” and “boring” is when we look at others. Who hasn’t met a dentist in his forties who divorced the wife of his youth and took up with his much-younger dental hygienist? His wife got the house and he got a new convertible. Three years later, he’s trying to re-invent himself as a counter-culture type, attending Burning Man and writing a blog. Fifteen years later he’s living in the Philippines, sleeping with five different women younger than his youngest daughter and drinking himself to death. What happened?

He mistook the illusory hustle for life itself.

Of course, when I beat up on our hypothetical dentist, I’m really trying to throw focus away from myself. I am, of course, both the horny dentist and his complicit hygienist. Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician, said “Most of our problems are linked to our inability to sit quietly alone in a room.” That is a more elegant way of positing what it took me several paragraphs to say. As a generalization, most of us would agree that the present moment is sufficient for our happiness, but try telling that to an irritable five-year-old, or someone who’s spent the last hour in a doctor’s waiting room.

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Channeling Tolle


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(photo by Steve McCurry)

When you look at everything as a gift, as grace, then envy and remorse disappear. If you consider it your duty to simply enjoy this day as much as possible, then you become child-like. You are less inclined to confront other people, to give instructions, to find fault, to blame.  You find it easy to cultivate patience, because the whole notion of waiting becomes absurd.  Who are you to decide which moment is more important than another? Why not find a way to enjoy where you are and what’s happening around you, right now? Any other response is at best arrogance, and at worst, insanity.