How To Be Happy: 25 MORE Things

My first “25 things to become happier” piece ended up being kinda popular, so here’s a second instalment — everyone loves a sequel, right?

The premise is simple: these are ideas that will make your life better, and/or happier, but they are subtle… I’m trying to avoid cliched, over-recycled advice such as “Meditate everyday!” and “Think positive thoughts!!!”

1. Take the exit row: Some airlines now charge for an exit row upgrade, but it’s only $30 or $40, and well worth the extra leg room. Plus, it is statistically the most likely path for you to become a national hero and wind up on the Today Show if the plane goes down in flames and you successfully shepherd all of the other passengers out in time.

2. Help an elderly lady: Don’t worry, Outlaw readers… I haven’t gone soft on you. This tip is purely selfish. Elderly ladies (the older and more frail the better here) are the gatekeepers of cosmic good karma. I discovered this by accident. I helped a woman with her groceries, and minutes later something very good happened to me.

About a week later, I tried being helpful again, and later in the day someone did me a huge favour without being asked.

By the third time this occurred, I was totally conditioned, Pavlov style: see an old lady, help her out, get a treat from the universe. Rinse and repeat.

3. Compliment one person per day: You could go with more than one per day, I suppose, but I like to hold my compliment like a precious jewel, waiting for the right moment to bestow it upon an unsuspecting stranger.

Also, if you go around complimenting people constantly, you risk being seen as a phony/New Age weirdo. But once a day feels good, it makes the other person feel good, and it leads to fun conversations. I do this when I see a trait I really like; if it’s forced, don’t bother.

4. Post less on Facebook: I went through a phase where everything in my life seemed fascinating and beautiful to me, and I wanted to share it with my Facebook “friends.” These random people drinking with me, this aircraft I’m about to board, this water rippling down my lean, toned chest at the pool, this cool Maya Angelou quote…

No one cares. Now I try to post only one thing per week, or even less. The result is that when you do, people actually LISTEN. If you’re that dude who posts every single New York Times business story, people will become desensitised to your Facebook updates. You’ll become a sad Facebook leper with no “Likes” or comments. That definitely won’t make you any happier.

5. Get a decent wallet. I bought a great metallic credit card wallet from the MoMA gift shop last year and it has (probably) saved me hours of fury and confusion. My cards are neatly stacked, with an emergency $100 bill folded in the back. You don’t need anything else. If you haven’t used a membership card in the past six months, chances are you don’t need it. Leave garbage at home and carry an efficient wallet.

6. Take notes. This annoyed my friends at first, but I think they’ve acclimated to it — and might even be secretly flattered by it. If someone says something unexpectedly brilliant or useful to your current life situation, take out your phone and write it down. If you don’t record the interesting ideas and views you come across, life becomes a bit less meaningful: a fun blur with nothing gained and nothing lost.

7. Become a personality plagiarist. I’m not suggesting you turn into the next Talented Mr. Ripley and steal someone else’s life and wife, but if you admire something in another person — or their presentation approach, golf swing, whatever — try to mimic it.

Success in life isn’t that hard. Copy successful people, and as long as the niche is big enough for more than one person, you’ll start to see some of that success as well.

8. Take everything you read in an in-flight magazine with a grain of salt.

9. Likewise for gossip blogs.

10. Bartenders don’t have good advice. Esquire, or maybe it’s GQ, has an amusing “Ask a Bartender” column — the guy is a modern-day Aristotle, but most vodka slingers are not as profound.

11. Sometimes the best advice is anonymous. Post on a site like Digg, Reddit, or Yahoo! Answers. See what the “crowd” thinks of your situation. With that said, the Internet is also a playground for morons, so if something doesn’t strike you as accurate, it probably isn’t.

12. Keep your car clean. A car wash — a good one, by hand — can be had for $10 to $15. You spend a lot of time in your car, and whether you like it or not, its state reflects on who you are as a person.

13. Watch “Locked Up” on MSNBC. If you think your life sucks, you’re wrong.

14. Consider a productivity-boosting fast. This is where you don’t go to lunch or dinner until you’ve finished doing the project you’re working on. It’s amazing how some minor hunger pangs can sharpen your mind and put just the perfect amount of desperation/speed into your writing or report. It’s the absolute best antidote for procrastination.

15. Go to all of the major American cities over the next year, if it’s feasible. When you stop watching stuff like CNN, where they constantly ask if we are on the “road to recovery” yet, and you actually EXPLORE this nation’s most powerful cosmopolitan centres — there can be no doubt that you still live in a vibrant, powerful, unfathomably vast first-world economy.

16. Try a new cologne. If you smell like your father, it’s time to visit Nordstrom and find a new summer cologne. People pick up on it. Avoid any cologne named after a celebrity.

17. Keep some physical money in your house. I keep a small stack of twenties on my kitchen counter. Seeing actual money from time to time is a nice reminder not to spend it on useless things you don’t need, especially if you are like me and use plastic almost exclusively.

18. Watch Charlie Rose and Bill Maher. Few other TV personalities will benefit your knowledge of economics and politics as much as these two. But mainly, they get GOOD guests, and have them on for long enough to actually dive into the issues.

19. Go to dive bars. You’ll meet more interesting people, and the bar tab is a fifth what it’d be at an “ultra-lounge” (whatever those are).

20. When talking to a very attractive woman, it’s OK to have an opinion that differs from hers. In fact, agreeing with more than 60% of what she says is a good sign she won’t be calling you.

21. Don’t give money to the homeless. I used to do this all the time in New York, but I don’t think it ultimately helps. If someone turns that into a “career,” no amount of money will get them to stop. We tend to do what works, until it stops working.

22. Don’t be ashamed of your species. Yes, we use a lot of water when we take showers/brush our teeth/wash our clothes… Yes, we produce a lot of trash… A lot of needless violence… But I don’t see dolphins mapping the human genome, penning great Russian novels, or sending probes into deep space. A smart, destructive species is probably a net-positive for the planet. We’ll get over the destructive part eventually, if we’re smart enough.

23. Don’t get a relationship tattoo. The relationship with will end. You’ll still have the tattoo. There is no exception to this rule.

24. Tip valet guys generously. They have your car in their hands… you’ve just trusted a $20,000 (or much more) possession to a complete stranger, you don’t want them resenting you.

25. Don’t EVER search for medical symptoms/illnesses online. If you feel sick, see a doctor. Otherwise you will convince yourself that your cold is, in fact, syphilis or lung cancer.

— provided by Outlaw

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