I saw this great article in the Huffington post. Me, as most people who stumbled upon it read the word “sex” and get awesome abs and said ….”well…I´m not doing anything SOOO important now to not be able to read this…”. And I read it. And laughed. And then thought. And then understood how right the author is.
The headlines of most men´s and women´s magazines are full of similar titles: Get fabulous abs and How to enjoy great sex. It would seem that these two subjects are recycled time and time again (next to other stereotypical subjects, depending on gender) on all the covers of Men´s Health, Maxim, Cosmopolitan and Glamour since the beginning of times. In fact, I bet that if we could interpret cave paintings, we would be able to read things like “Fred Flintstone has a flat belly. He makes Wilma moan with pleasure”.
And we still buy them. We still believe that these things will make us happy. Time ago I had six-pack abs and an awesome sex life. But none of these things made me a better person. None of these made me feel more complete.
We´re chasing a dream: “I will be happy when…”
I will be happy when I get a new car. I´ll be happy when I marry. I´ll be happy when I get a better job. I´ll be happy when I lose some weight. What if, in stead of that, we decide to be happy right now?
Setting aside our first world problems and squabbles, if you´re reading this that means you at least have electricity and WiFi, or access to them. It´s more than probable that you have a ceiling above your head, or you own a smartphone (congratulations if you´re reading me while you´re going somewhere). Life can shake or hurt us, it can possibly not be as we had pictured it, I´m frustrated with mine in any rate, but the key is: you´re alive.
And since you´re alive, everything´s possible. So let´s get to those eight pieces of advice:
1.- Stop believing in your own nonsense
All those things you tell yourself about fear of compromise, that you´re a coward, lazy, not creative or you´re unlucky. Stop. It´s nonsense and you know it. We´re all insecure fourteen year old adolescents. We´re all afraid. We all have had to throw away dreams because at some point we´ve clung on to those ideas of what we are, and we´ve buried that essential, and awesome, capacity kids have to become fascinated. The more we cling on to the clichés about who we are, the smaller the fraction of life we could be living. Throw them away. Be the one you are under all that nonsense.
2.- Be happy now.
Not because the book The Secret tells you to. Not because of some childish thought Oprah Winfrey cooks up. But because we can choose to appreciate what we have in life, in stead of being angry or depressed by what we dont. It´s a small but significative change in perspective. It´s easier to see what´s wrong or lacking in our lives and to believe that that vision is our reality, but it just isn´t. We can choose to prioritize the good parts.
3.- Look at the stars.
It won´t solve the crisis. It won´t stop wars. It wont get us abs, or better sex, nor will it clear up your relationship with your significant other nor will it tell you what to do with your life. But it´s important. It helps to remind you that you and your problems are infinitely small, and in turn, you´re a fundamental piece in a vast and incredible universe. Do it every day, it helps.
4.- Open up to others.
Really. Tell people you trust that you need help, or that you´re depressed, or that you´re happy and you want to share that happiness with them. Let them know they´re important to you and let yourself feel like that. Do that in stead of what we normally do, which is keep a cool profile and act as if we feel for others the same way they admit feeling for us, so we open up only halfway. Go all the way, it´s worth it.
5.- Stop being foolish.
A couple of days ago I arrived to a friend´s house short on breath and almost crying after feeling a little lost, physically and existentially. She asked me what was the matter and I was starting to explain when I stopped and admitted: “I´m being an idiot and I´ve decided to create myself a ton of problems”. Life is full of obstacles; we don´t need to generate more. About this, there is a great piece of advice in the book The Four Agreements, by Miguel Ruiz: don´t take things personally. Most of the times, attitudes and decisions other take have nothing to do with you. Unless you´ve been a total asshole, in which case…
6.- Learn to say sorry.
But not in that ridiculous and self-derogatory way by saying sorry for being who you are or simply for existing, that some people tend to do. The capacity to say sorry (without adding the word “but”) is essential for living amongst other human beings. If you´re gonna be surrounded by people, at some given moment you´re bound to have to say sorry. It´s a good habit.
7.- Practice gratitude.
Practice it out loud with the people around you. Practice it silently when you pray thanksgiving for your food. Practice it frequently. Gratitude isn´t only a first-world virtue. Not long ago I saw a photo of a poor girl, surrounded by dirt and destruction. Her face was totally illuminated by cheerfulness and gratitude while she played with a hula-hoop that had been given to her. Gratitude is what makes us happy with what we have. Gratitude is the most basic way of connecting to that sensation of belonging to the greater picture that is the universee; like I said earlier when I talked about looking at the stars, it´s the capacity of being fascinated and humble, to celebrate the connection we have with life.
8.- Be kind.
Kurt Vonnegut said it better than anyone (though I have to admit I´m no great fan of Vonnegut myself, to my embarassment): “There´s only one rule I know, guys: goddamit, we gotta be kind!”. Kindness is effortless and at the same time it pays off greatly. I can´t save the world. I can´t bring peace to Syria. I can´t fix the environment or the sanitary system, and as far as I can see, my dinner´s starting to get burned.
But I can be kind.
If the greatest thing we can do in life is to extend love and kindness if only to one single human being, we would have changed the world for good.
To me, this is way more important than having chiseled abs.
Ok so I laughed my ass off and thought of it as a very intelligent article which we read because we all read those stupid little ideas about “8 tricks that change your (sex) life 180º”. Thank God…it´s better than that!
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