If you’ve ever watched the first season of Twin Peaks – and I highly recommend you do – you know that protagonist Agent Cooper gives good life advice.
“Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen.“
I completely agree, though I think you must plan some of them. For me, that can be video games when my evening work is finished, or a phone call with a friend, or a cup of hot cocoa shared with my bride. There are other things I’d like to share with her daily, but you know, the struggle is real.
Time for more martial arts metaphors. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu they say, “take what is given to you.” Always. If an enemy gives you an arm to seize, seize it. If your boss offers you more money, don’t ever “leave it on the table.”
But if somebody brings donuts to work every Tuesday, do avoid them – most of the time. We’ll get to that in a future post.
I also suggest a weekly present for hard work done. Maybe that’s a meal out, a movie, or a trip to the theme park with the kids.
Next, plan a monthly present for making new habits or kicking bad ones. Last year I gave myself two custom-made shirts, a video game, some audiobooks, and various other treasure. In the end I look forward to seeing friends more, but I do still like stuff. That’s what money is for: helping others, paying bills, and stuff. Preferably in that order.
The problem is when you’re frugal – as I am – you feel guilty about not saving, not investing, not scrounging. Some of us go into credit card debt, which you should never do. But you must invest in yourself – your education and your pleasure – or life is just drudgery.
So go ahead. Get that coffee once a week. Or buy that book. You’re going to be all right.
And plan to see your poor, neglected guy friends
Men need the company of other men.
Men and women are different. New-age puritans can scream all they want, but biology and psychology and common sense aren’t going away.
Your wife or girlfriend is (I hope for your sake) the best companion you’ll ever have. You’re meant to complement each other and help each other grow (unless that means reaching 500 lbs – then don’t grow together). But women and men relate and communicate differently. Your lady needs her female friends.
And you must see your guy friends. This really, really makes an impact on the quality of your life. How many ladies really care about how awesome that home run was? Or how ridiculous and thrilling the elevator scene in Drive is? I’m not actually talking about specifics – I’m talking about patterns.
Further, male communication has a different wavelength than female communication. Women use their secret language of nods and OHHs and mmm-hmms. Men tend to use fewer words, clearer words, and more postural communication. Of course there is overlap – there’s mostly overlap. But every human wants to be understood, and you won’t get the whole meal without other men in your life.
What if my friendships aren’t that fulfilling?
If your relationships are lacking or nonexistent, the easiest way to improve them or win them is to listen. Everybody wants somebody to listen.
Conversely, you know you have a real friend when they listen to you. This means they have the character to give and take properly, and they share common interests with you.
But, obviously, you’re guys. So you won’t just listen and empathize. That’s what women do over tea and mochas and essential oils. You must go out and do stuff. Shoot guns. Ride bikes. Play a sport. Start a business. Make a YouTube video. Any time with friends is a greater gift than all of the stuff in the world.
Give yourself a reward greater than anything
As long as we’re talking about things that make life rich, let’s talk about the richest.
I’m talking about God, and I’m talking about talking to God.
A lot of you will skip this idea. For most people, prayer equals religion, and religion equals a weird hobby at best, and a superstitious source of violence and hatred at worst.
But if you’re brave enough to consider new ideas, please consider the following argument.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an omnipotent deity who can move things in your favor when you have no control over them? Who will one day get you out of this mess and bring you to his house, where the most kickass party in the universe lasts forever?
Wouldn’t it be nice if love was real – like cosmically, spiritually, actually real – and we’re not just meat floating in space?
It would, right? Most people seem to agree – and deep down, they’re seeking that. It could be subconscious rationalization of a world full of suffering.
But longing for meaning defies evolutionary biology. There are no known organisms with latent functions optimized for environments that don’t exist.
It’s not a coincidence that we crave deeper meaning.
And when you believe it, I can guarantee you, life’s hardships get significantly lighter. They’re still nasty – but there’s an end, a purpose to it all.
If you’re open enough to try prayer for the first time, just talk to God. Tell him the truth. “This CPPS really sucks, God. Did you give me this? Help me out here. Show me what this is about.”
Might as well. If you consider an omnipotent deity rationally, there’s nothing you can actually do for him that he can’t just do himself – but he might do something for you, if you ask. And maybe he really does care, which is why we are designed to seek him out in the first place.
- Plan to buy one reasonably-priced thing for yourself.
- Start a list of stuff you want. That’s also helpful for when people ask for gift ideas around the holidays or your birthday. I call my list “DO WANT.”
- Write out when you’re going to get some of those things. Make them rewards for completing goals.
- Call a friend. Today or tonight. Or, at a minimum, text them to schedule a call.
- Propose that you get together. If they’re hard to get time with, propose to do something they like. Next time, do something you like.
- If you’re feeling really bold, try prayer. The worst thing that can happen is nothing. And the best is, well, you have to try it to find out.