A (small) life hack for a better world

In Tools for Titans, Tim Ferriss interviews the comedienne Whitney Cummings, who mentions that she has a tattoo in white on her arm that reads “I love you” and it reminds her to speak to everyone with that thought in her mind.

In light of, well everything going on in the world really, but particularly Charlottesville, which I consider to be my second home, I hope that we can all try this out in our interactions with others, particularly including those with whom we differ.

I’m a type-A nut job so I am basically mad at everyone all the time. I tried it on my barista when she had forgotten about my order. I was getting peeved and I thought, I love you. And I thought about how much she must have going on, the irate customers she must face everyday, how low-paying the job is, how she was probably trying to do a great job but sometimes people just screw up. And I’ve definitely screwed up before, so who am I to judge?

Try it.

Advertisements

The Phrase that Stops my Emotional Spending in its Tracks

Maybe you can relate. I can typically see through the marketing hoopla of most beauty products. But when I have a pimple, or when I feel badly about my appearance, I could be tempted to buy anything.
It sounds somewhat ridiculous now but I was recently contemplating buying a $500 beauty gadget that zaps electric pulses into your skin and allegedly kills bacteria, sculpts your face and encourages the buildup of beneficial collagen. Or so it says. All because I had a pimple.

Typically I have very good skin. I might have little clogged pores every few weeks but I won’t have a hard cystic pimple a few times a year. And when I do, it’s all I can think about. And I always scour the internet for quick fix solutions, peering into photo after photo of flawless-looking models trying to discern their secrets.

But typically before I fall into a vat of self-loathing, I try to tell myself this one phrase that brings me back to earth. It’s a phrase that keeps me from emptying my checking account every time I get a blemish.
Who told you you were naked?
Let me explain.

Are Your Money Goals Too Short Sighted?

I’ve been reading a number of personal finance blogs of late and it’s been a little bit dispiriting actually. I’ve seen many bloggers giving advice on how they worked for a few years and then retired to travel the world. Or how bloggers ruined their reputations or did unethical acts in the name of saving money. And in the end, reading most personal finance blogs, it seems like early retirement is the final end goal. The whole meaning of our life’s work is to travel the world and live like a dilettante.

I’m still drafting a personal finance manifesto but the first tenet is certainly – money is a tool, never the end goal. There should be so much more to your life than money. I honestly think there should be so much more to life than pleasure or happiness. There should be the constant striving to be a better person, to leave the world with more love, joy and happiness, to alleviate pain, to learn new things, to share new ideas, to take risks, to inspire others, and maybe, if we’re lucky, make something lasting.

I was reminded of this when reading the following passage in a book neither about finance nor character.

Continue reading

Life Skill #58: How to Stay Married

Let me get this out of the way: I’ve never been married. So I have no expertise at all on this matter. But, I will qualify by saying, just being good at something doesn’t mean you’ll be able to teach something. Also, this is the internet so take everything with a grain (or shaker!) of salt. I have no idea what I’m talking about – this is all conjecture. I’ll admit it up front.

My ex-fiance and I had read lots of books about marriage and taken premarital counseling. My parents and my ex’s parents never took premarital counseling. None of them were great communicators. They all argued and complained more than they perhaps should. My parents have been happily married for almost 40 years. My ex’s parents had an acrimonious divorce when he was a kid.

The same type of marriage yielded vastly different results. Granted, my parents’ marriage is never something that will be held up in relationship books as ideal but it works well enough for them. And for better, and likely worse, this is my model for a working marriage. I realized today, while refereeing a tiff between my parents, that this model is something my ex-fiance thought would lead to a very unhappy marriage. He wanted us to be better than our parents. Based on his worldview, this type of marriage would not end well.

Continue reading

Life skill #30: 7 Foods that make it easy to cook from home

*I’m beginning a series to teach life skills every adult should have.

Ideally, you would have gone to the grocery store and have tons of fresh veggies and defrosted meat at home. Or you would have prepped something and put it in your crockpot in the morning, ready for you when you get home. But most of us are not superhumans.

We know there are so many reasons to cook at home, from cost and time savings to health, improving your cooking skills, to being able to eat and relax in your own home with your loved ones. But there’s also quite a case for ordering takeout. After an exhausting day at work and facing the daunting tasks of grocery shopping, meal planning and washing dishes, and with options like Seamless at our fingertips, it can be hard to avoid the siren call of takeout or delivery. But after you have that meal, you’re really just setting yourself up for more days of Seamless delivery, and the food isn’t even that good. You know that you can make something just as good and twice as healthy by yourself but who has the time?

The secret to picking cooking over takeout is to make it as easy as possible to cook (and also hating all your takeout and delivery options) by having your kitchen stocked with ingredients to make quick and easy meals. They are all foods that you can keep in your pantry, fridge or freezer for weeks and you’ll be happy to have them the next time you are in a jam. Here are seven foods that will help you avoid Seamless.

Continue reading

101 Life Skills Every Adult Needs to Know (that save money too)

adult.jpg

I recently went on a vacation with millenials (save yourselves!). Now, I’m under 35 but these were the fabled millenials they talk about in the media – the ones that are entitled and have no useful skills. They were all in medical school but they had never traveled anywhere by themselves. That didn’t seem like it would make them all that different from me but they didn’t know how to do basic things that I learned when I was a kid.  They didn’t know how to navigate to our AirBnB by themselves, they couldn’t figure out public transportation and didn’t seem to have a basic grasp of staying safe in a big city.

It got me to thinking, what kinds of skills would I expect someone in their 20s or 30s – someone we would consider an adult – have? I started coming up with a list and it’s quite extensive. I can do most of these to some degree but I’m excited to become more proficient in each of them and I’m going to start a series teaching all of the skills on the list. If you have a new grad or new adult in your life, please have them tune in – or tune in yourself! I’m going to research so I’m not just talking about my own experience.

What other skills would you add to this list? Which would you take off?

Continue reading