Friday, August 10, 2018

7 Hacks for a Better Life

I remember when hacks were bad. Now they're all the rage.

The word "hack" has a lot of definitions, and most of them aren't very favorable. It could be a foul in basketball. ("He hacked the shooter across the arms, forcing the ref to call a two-shot foul.") It could be a writer or artist who does inferior work with the sole intent of getting paid. ("He was a hack whose best work was a poor imitation of Stephen King.) It could be something you do to a slab of meat. ("She grabbed the cleaver and took a hack at the steak.")

But lately, hacks have been getting a better reputation. Now a hack can be a shortcut; a better, quicker way of doing something productive. Life-hacks, especially, are very popular today. Life-hacks are ways to make life in general easier, more convenient, and better.

And really, I wouldn't be much of a hack writer if I didn't take a hack at writing up some life-hacks to ease your burdens and make your life more plush. So, here are my 7 Life-Hacks to Help You Be Happy!

1. Be nice to people who are nice to you.
It sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? If people are nice to you, you should be nice back to them. A long time ago a great* man once said, "It's nice to be nice to the nice." It's wonderful advice by which we should all live.

(*Okay, so this is a quote from Frank Burns, a character on the television show M*A*S*H. And no, Frank Burns wasn't a great man, but he was a great television character.)

2. Be nice to people who are mean to you.
One day, when my oldest girl and my oldest boy weren't getting along very well, I lectured them and used the "It's nice to be nice to the nice" quote. A few minutes later The Girl turned to me and said, "Dad, you know what? It's mean to be mean to the mean." I laughed, and because I laughed she plugged a few more words into the formula. Such as, "It's silly to be silly to the silly," "It's wrong to be wrong to the wrong," and "It's stupid to be stupid to the stupid."

I learned a few things from this, including that The Girl is smart and silly. But, it was the first thing she said, "It's mean to be mean to the mean," that really got me thinking. It doesn't do any good to be mean to people who are mean to you; if anything this will just keep the cycle of meanness chugging along until somebody gets hurt. But, if you change things up and be nice to the people who are mean to you, they might actually stop being mean.

3. Wear clean underwear.
Mom used to always say, "Wear clean underwear. What if you were to get in an accident?" I never really understood this because 1) if you get in an accident, you might end up dirtying your underwear anyway; and B) I'm sure the doctors and nurses have more important things to do than check out the cleanliness level of your boxer shorts.

That being said, "wear clean underwear" is still good advice. You will feel better with clean underwear next to your skin. And, you'll be less likely to be stinky.

4. Don't grow a mustache and a mullet.
And if you do, don't take a photo of it. And if you did take a photo of it, don't post it on the internets. (The internets are forever.)

Should you take advice from this man?
(It's okay, I don't have the mustache anymore.)

5. Stay calm when driving.
There are a lot of idiots our on the roads. A lot of idiots. But, if we spend all of our time getting mad at the idiot drivers, we'll be angry drivers ourselves. And angry drivers are usually idiots, too.

I don't think anyone has ever flipped somebody off and then had that person track them down and say, "Thank you so much for showing me your middle finger! It helped me realize the mistakes I had been making while driving, and as a result I am a much better driver and a much better person!"

6. Don't watch reality television.
We can use our time in many different ways. We can work. We can play. We can read. We can help others. We can enjoy hobbies. We can better ourselves. Or, we can watch reality television.

Has anyone ever stepped away from the television after spending a few hours keeping up with the Kardashians and thought, "I'm a better person now than I was when I started watching this show?" I ask this because I don't know. I've never actually kept up with any Kardashians. (I usually keep away from the Kardashians.)

Now, I will say that I do differentiate between "reality" shows and "talent" shows. I think "talent" shows (like The Voice, and America's Got Talent) are acceptable to watch, because sometimes it's enjoyable and uplifting to see people display their actual talents. What I'm saying to avoid are the "reality" shows featuring untalented people blab on about themselves, like the Kardashians and the Real Housewives of Some City You Don't Care About. (By the way, those are not real housewives.)

7. Spend time with your family and friends.
Think back to the best memories you have. Your friends are there with you, aren't they? Or your family. Or both. The best, most fun, and most wonderful times of our lives are spent with the people we care about.

You'll never remember that night you stayed up until two in the morning watching Shootfighter II starring Billy Zabka. Unless you watched it with some of your friends and you spent the whole time laughing and having fun with it.

Family and friends can turn good times into great times. I could have fun at Disneyland by myself, but the lasting memories I have are of the sheer joy on my daughter's face as she met her first princess and the sense of awe on my son's face as he looked down from the top of the ferris wheel.

It's always better to share than be selfish.

So, there you have it! Go ahead and take a hack at trying my life-hacks. I think you'll find that they'll help you be happier. (Especially that one about the mullet. You do not want to be that guy!)

Edited from a post originally published on 10/20/2015.

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