I’ve been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin.  So far, I don’t agree with her on everything, but it’s an interesting exploration so far.  I wish she’d gone into more detail on how she’d figured out her “Secrets for Adulthood” and personal commandments, but she blows over that in the beginning.

I was thinking last night, unable to sleep for some unknown reason, about those things and wondering what mine are.  I tend to see my mental patterns clearest through my short stories, by the way.  Sometimes I don’t realize how important something is to me until I write story after story about it for months on end.

In no particular order, here are some of my life lessons:

  • When learning something new, old skills are sometimes lost for a time, which is what allows us to learn something new.
  • The way you see the world affects the people around you more than you think.  It’s your karma.
  • Wisdom encompasses foolishness.
  • If a large number of people are being idiots in a similar way, look to the systems surrounding them, not to the people.
  • When you look back, it’s the times you spent with people that you remember.
  • Take a break.
  • Eat something.
  • Drink something.
  • Exercise.
  • Read widely.
  • Entertainment, like alcohol, is meant to be consumed in the context of other people.  Except for books, which are meant to be consumed in the context of imagination.
  • Sleep when you’re tired.
  • You’re not that important.
  • Listen, and ask questions that allow you to listen.
  • Compassion comes from understanding the root problems of a situation.
  • Anger hurts other people.
  • Just because you try something once doesn’t mean you’re committed to it.
  • Say no politely and firmly.  Anyone who can’t deal with that is an asshole.
  • Keep your name.  Add names if necessary, but don’t abandon any.
  • Allow that any event may have multiple explanations and interpretations, and that it’s better to know what’s intended than otherwise.
  • Fuck good intentions.  “I was just trying to help” is usually bullshit.
  • Beware people who say “should” in the sense of “you should do x.”
  • Beware people who undervalue the difficulty of change, trying new things, or maintaining new habits.  In fact, avoid them; they’re assholes, second only to the ones who can’t take no for an answer.
  • People are less independent than they think.
  • Don’t bribe, hint, or nag at people to do things.  Ask them directly.
  • If you don’t get what you want, get it yourself rather than waiting for someone to give it to you.  This includes birthdays.
  • Humans are too adaptable sometimes.  You can follow your calling…or you can do a bunch of bullshit jobs that go nowhere and will make you look back on your life in despair.  It’s okay to do the second on your way to the first.
  • If you dream that someone you barely know is a part of your family, then they are part of your family.
  • If you’re having nightmares, write more.
  • It’s easy to see other people’s little bit of crazy.  It’s harder to accept that deviance from normal is the root of a particular talent, and that the crazy side and the talent side are tied together, but they are.  Breaking the crazy can mean breaking the joy.
  • Handle your crazy as best you can, with the goals of helping more, hurting less.  Avoiding the crazy makes the negatives worse.
  • If it’s not paradoxical, it’s probably not true.
  • Keep other people’s secrets, within reason.
  • Tell the truth, within reason.
  • Your space = your mind.  Clean is better than dirty, functional better than broken, but dirty and broken are better than bland.
  • Comfortable shoes, a good bed, and soft toilet paper.  (Via Joe.)
  • Part of you rises up in dreams and aspirations; part of you reaches down soft roots that crumple mountains.
  • Don’t avoid lowbrow.  Don’t avoid highbrow.
  • Eat the hell out of it.
  • Any email that sits in your inbox longer than a week indicates an emotional conflict of some kind, a fear.
  • When you notice a pattern of fearful or angry actions, break the cycle.
  • You are allowed to enjoy things.
  • Beware of people who tell you that something is stupid without being able to explain themselves; it usually indicates fear that can easily erupt into psychological or physical violence as they try not to think about the root of their reaction.  A third category of asshole; unfortunately, we all pretty much fall into this category.  People who are offended by things are definitely in this category.
  • It’s okay to swear.
  • It’s okay, when making hard choices in the gray areas of life, to make choices that other people disagree with.  They are usually “should”-ers anyway.
  • Defend other people’s rights to make those hard choices as free of “should” as possible.
  • When people make jokes about raping you, it’s not funny.
  • Most people don’t know what the word “semantics” means.
  • If leftovers are a completed dish, freeze them; you won’t feel like eating the same thing before it goes bad in the fridge.
  • If leftovers are components, like chopped onions or unsauced noodles, refrigerate them and toss them into other things you made.
  • Plan your role for surviving the zombie apocalypse (or other massive social change).  If you have the right role, the skills are usually pretty fun to pick up.
  • It’s better to pay to have your oil changed on a regular basis than it is to do it yourself and blow it off constantly.
  • Don’t shit where you eat; if you broke it, you bought it.
  • Babies are always right.
  • Parents who ignore crying children are shitheads.  Even a toddler can understand, in the middle of a tantrum, that you think the appropriate reaction to their discomfort is to say, “Fuck you.”
  • A full pantry is a happy pantry; find five or so things to eat that you like, that can be made solely with ingredients from your pantry, and keep those things stocked at all times.
  • There’s a fine line between leaving something to soak and having it get moldy.  Delaying cleanup requires more attention than just getting it done right away.
  • If someone offers to help clean up, let them.
  • If someone offers to bring food, let them.
  • If someone asks you what you want, tell them.
  • If someone asks you, seriously, how you’re doing, tell them, without melodrama if possible, but don’t whitewash things either.
  • Don’t stand around and do nothing.  (Sitting around is okay; bubble baths are best.)
  • Don’t wait for someone to tell you the rules.  Find out.
  • What makes a game fun to play are the rules.  Find out your comfort level with the amount of rules and walk away from things with too many/too few, unless you’re that bored.
  • When doing something for other people’s entertainment that you’re not sure about, ask yourself, “Is it better than being bored?”  If people show up more than once, the answer is probably yes.
  • A talent for focus looks a lot like being lost in a book.
  • Unsubscribe from subscription emails.
  • Babble.
  • Use other people’s brains.  Ask for recommendations.
  • Kick other people out of your writing room.  (via Kris.)
  • “Being” something is demeaning, limiting, and screws with your mind but is sometimes necessary in polite conversation.  When someone says they are proud to “be” something, watch out; they are also prone to erupt in psychological and physical violence if questioned/challenged.
  • Find the household chores you actually like to do.  Find out if you’re a daily maintenance person or a big project person.
  • If you’re miserable, talk to someone about it.
  • The Internet is good for introverts because you can do things in your own time.
  • Get more sunshine.
  • The “best” of anything will probably not be your favorite.
  • Individuality is better than perfection.
  • Breathe.
  • Before going somewhere that you’ll have to speak to a number of people, come up with a couple of interesting conversational questions to ask.  But don’t ask the most obvious question first, or at least don’t limit yourself to it.  Making other people supply the chit chat can help extend the time an introvert can handle other people.  “So what do you write?” is a good writer question.
  • Allow yourself to be carried away by other people’s obsessions, but only for a conversation or two.
  • Dig into the fundamentals of your hobbies.  Learn how to make cheese, bread, beer, butter, and homemade chai.
  • Cats care more about you than it appears at first glance; so with a lot of people.
  • Sometimes it takes being depressed to allow yourself to change.
  • Treat depression seriously, whether it’s for a good reason or not.
  • Integrity means “not being broken.”
  • Your kids are like your dreams; treat them more kindly than you treat yourself.  “Being a parent” or “being a friend” are limiting, dead-end choices.  It’s better to be honest than it is to “be a parent.”
  • “Hold” is a good word to teach your kids.  It allows you to get them to shut up in the car at a moment’s notice when you’re trying to avoid being hit by a semi.  “Stop” is judgmental.  “Hold” isn’t.  Don’t abuse it.
  • Invest in brownie points; allow brownie points to affect your decisions.
  • It’s not reasonable to expect other people to see things from your point of view.  Fair, yes.  Reasonable, no.  Celebrate it when it happens.
  • Say “thank you,” especially in response to compliments.
  • A life without fear is a life without exhilaration.  Allow yourself victories over the smallest things.

Jeez, this just goes on.  I wonder if there’s any way for me to sum this stuff up…more stuff…

  • You do not need all that shit.
  • Walk more.
  • “But I didn’t mean it” is a perfect time to apologize.
  • Don’t litter.
  • The things you love are made less when you mock another.
  • Hate’s only use is to combat love.
  • No human is smart or good enough not to be a hypocrite.  Even Einstein and Mother Teresa.