Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Take a cold shower and make your life better


A Facebook friend posted a selfhelp article a month ago and I’ve been intrigued/annoyed/encouraged by it ever since.

It’s called 50 Ways Happier, Healthier and More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms. It’s by Benjamin P. Hardy, a PhD candidate in organizati­onal psychology.

The cynic in me wants to shoot down all of the author’s earnest pronouncem­ents. Shoot them down and stomp on their remains. Too harsh? Well, what about No. 3: Read One Book Per Week. One book. Per week. I’ve been snailing through one of Robert Ludlum’s Bourne novels at the rate of four pages a night for the past two months. It’s slow, boring, dated and overladen with characters. Also, it’s marred by exclamatio­n marks, a sin which should be punishable by death. By death! But this isn’t the kind of book Hardy is talking about. Successful people seek knowledge, not entertainm­ent, and they hoover it up. One of their tricks is to listen to audio books on fast-forward. Seriously. “They are constantly learning.” If I read one book a week, I’d be constantly fired.

Checking in at No. 1 on the list is Stop Consuming Caffeine. You should get your energy from within, “from your why,” as opposed to external sources. Yay me. I’ve been avoiding caffeine for some time now. I use my inner energy to crave coffee.

No. 50 is to practise gratitude. Much has been written on the power of gratitude. It has mystical qualities. It improves physical and mental health, helps you sleep better, builds relationsh­ips

and freshens your breath. The last one I made up. You’re welcome.

Some of the more unusual items on the list include No. 15: Replace warm showers with cold ones. Cold showers can boost your immune system, ward off depression, stimulate creativity and help you reach your goals. Particular­ly if your goals include crying and swearing in the shower.

No. 18 is to say “I love you” three times a day to the most important people in your life. No. 46 is to write a short, thoughtful note for someone each day. You’re supposed to put these notes under their windshield wipers, in their shoes, the fridge, closet, etc. Cute, right?

I don’t know about you, but if I started telling my wife I loved her three times a day and putting affectiona­te notes in her shoes, she’d think I was up to something. Soon, she would be hiding private detectives in my sock drawer.

No. 11 is popular right now: Do something every day that terrifies you. This one has always annoyed me. I rarely find myself in a position to be terrified. “If you courageous­ly confront fear for 20 seconds every single day, before you know it, you’ll be in a different socio-economic and social situation,” Hardy writes. I’m calling BS on this one. The scariest thing that happened to me all week was finding hummus in the work fridge that expired in 2015. My socio-economic situation remains the same, as does my gag reflex.

Many items on the list are common sense: Get lots of sleep, drink lots of water, say thank you, floss your teeth. You’re also supposed to make your bed and stop reading the news. (Note from me: Don’t stop reading the news.)

50 Ways Happier, Healthier and More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms is like an owner’s manual for life. That’s the problem. I don’t read owner’s manuals until something breaks. By then, it’s too late. I’m left to envy those who know all the tricks.

But maybe that’s part of the plan. There isn’t a lot of room at the tip of the pyramid. The winners need the rest of us to stand on. That’s what makes them taller.

And now for a different kind of goal setting. No. 51: Watch more movies. No. 52: Eat more hotdogs. See you at the middle!

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