I’m crabby because I am getting the family viral illness, so earlier in the day I was considering posting nothing but old Anacin commercials with screaming housewives just to cheer myself up. But lucky lucky you, instead I decided to go ahead and write my semi-annual Unwanted Advice rant. This time, I am going to break down to the very nib the things you need to do to fix most of the chronic crap in your life that makes you whine and cry and sigh and punch walls and stare at a TV set blankly for 6 hours a night. I could have parsed this out for a series of three incredibly successful self-help books with me ending up giving Oprah the stink-eye on national TV, but I really, really hate self-help books.

What makes me qualified to dispense such valuable wisdom? Nothing, but you don’t have to be licensed to post on the internet, so here we go…body, mind, soul. You can put on some spa music in the background if you like.


It’s true what they say, because they are smart and we are dumb. They say that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. Try doing anything fun or useful when you have a cold or your head is exploded or something. It’s really miserable. So why is it almost all of us treat our bodies like garbage dumps? I know why. Because we can. We can do all kinds of nasty things to it, and yet it forgives us so many times, and for so long. You say, well Grandpa Kauffenhacker smoked for 128 years and he was fine, right until the end when he mutated into a 6'-tall Kool Lights butt. We take it all for granted, and we say, ehhhhh, whatever, I’ll deal later.

Yes. Yes, you will. And when you get there, regret will seep so copiously out of your pores that the even-older crank down the hall at the hospital will yell at you to keep your loss down.


Don't smoke. Not only is it terrible for your health and the health of people around you, it stains your fingers and teeth and clothes and furniture, and makes you look like a complete weak idiot standing outside your office building in a blizzard puffing away. How do you quit? Don’t buy cigarettes and light them up and put them in your mouth. I know this is novel and radical, but there isn’t actually anyone forcing you to purchase cigarettes. You may feel pretty uncomfortable during the process of quitting, but you won’t die. Suck it up, Smokey.

Move. You have to move. Moving from the couch to the fridge for a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich is not exercise. You have to do more than that, although you don’t have to run a marathon or look like one of those bronze crustacean-like bodybuilders. We are not biologically set up to be sloths. Nature prefers us to be using the muscles we have all vigorous-like on a regular basis, which has more benefits than just better-looking muscles. You will sleep better, feel happier, have better and more sex, and have more energy -- exercise improves all of your systems. It’s like keeping your car in tip-top condition, you can tell the difference when you drive it, can’t ya? And, importantly, you are banking good health for the day when time starts to weigh a little bit more heavily. You won’t be the one with a horrible knee-replacement surgery, a broken hip that won’t heal well because you have too much weight on it, or the lack of stamina to get through grueling chemo.

Eat well. Watch your portions, and eat a variety of actual fresh foods, not processed irradiated corn-syrupy gloop. It’s not really that hard. I love love love food, but I don’t need to stuff myself until I feel like I have to puke. Anymore.

Watch that pesky substance abuse. Drugs n’ alcohol are bad, mmmkay, if you do too much, too often. Your body doesn’t like toxins, you know, and things add up. Your liver and lungs will revolt someday, and you need your liver and lungs quite a bit. If you are getting high and/or hammered a lot, you should probably be asking yourself why that is. “Because it’s fun” is not the real answer, Comedian.


Your brain is a fabulous thing. It’s more powerful than the blastiest volcano, the most clever supercomputer, or Justin Bieber’s hair. It wants you to USE it and you need to keep it entertained, or it starts getting sluggish and unhappy, making you forget where your car keys are or at what rate to tip a mediocre waiter. Your mind begs you to remember that you are a born scientist, artist, and engineer, even if past childhood this translates to creating a new dinner recipe from scratch, knitting a scarf, or figuring out how to hot-wire Grandpa Kauffenhacker’s ’78 Olds.

It wants you to do things that are novel and satisfying, for you to be genuinely interested in the world. Do everything you can to find a job that sparks your brain up, a hobby that challenges you, conversations with others that are stimulating and productive. Make something. I don’t care if it’s the Taj Mahal or a scrapbook detailing your Ozark vacation. DO STUFF.

Nothing will make you more unhappy, more restless, more questioning of the point of your existence than BOREDOM. Fight it.


Not that I think there’s really a soul per se, but you know what I mean. Your emotional self, your lovely “you.”

#1 MOST IMPORTANT THING: Do not waste one more single MINUTE of your time with people who disrespect you, treat you poorly, are thoughtless, are abusive, are neglectful, use you for money/sex/attention, threaten you, who say they love you but clearly don’t like you, who are bored by you, and who don’t really care all that much about anything about you. I don’t care WHO this is: a girlfriend, your BFF, your BFF’s real BFF, your mother, whatever. Spend your time with people who value your company, who want to be with you without changing you into something else, who appreciate you and can tell you that often. Cutting these parasite/vulture people off might be one of the hardest things you will ever do, and you will grieve. And then you will breathe again, and the people who truly like you will still be there. If the only “person” left is just a cat, that’s better than a crappy person. Unless you have one of those crappy cats that hiss whenever you go by and scratch you when you put their food dish on the floor. Consider a dog.

Be both less fearful and more fearful: care less about what other people think of you, and be more afraid of spending years and years in a rut. Extend your hand, but watch your back. Give more to those who are in genuine need, and don’t look for praise. Be your own friend first, and then it is remarkably easy to find compassion and time for others.

Love stuff, without worrying whether you should or whether it will go away someday, but go Buddha-style and want stuff less. Endless want makes unhappy souls. You were born rich, even without a super-absorbent diaper.

And that’s about it. Have I said this stuff here before? Sure. Will I keep saying it? Yes. Why? Because if even one of you does one of these things, your life will be better, and that is just a really cool thing.

I’m still getting sick, not quite as crabby as I was, and I still want to see that Anacin commercial.