8 Suggestions to Myself (And Anyone Else Reading)

I’m not big on telling people the right way to do things. This is mainly because I don’t know what the right way to do things is. “The right way” can be different for everyone, it can change over time, and sometimes it can seem like the exact opposite of what “the right way” should be.

I think. Maybe none of that’s true. Maybe it’s actually a universal truth that never changes. See? I have no damn idea.

Instead, I just have some things I try to remember. Things I need to do – or not do – to make myself happy and productive. Challenges, in a way – some of which are kind of abrasive. What follows is a list of some of those things, in no particular order. I’m sharing them here because they’re concepts I believe in, and maybe someone else will too.

1. Don’t talk. Do.

What you’re “gonna do” in the future doesn’t matter. All that matters is what you do do. Goals, aspirations, and dreams are – or at least should be – vitally important to every single person alive. They keep us going. But until you’ve realized your goals, they mean exactly nothing to anyone beyond the individual in which they exist. Yes, your mother and significant other probably care a little, but even they are more interested in results.

Don’t tell me what you’re gonna do. Show me what you’re doing to get there. That’s progress.

2. Be present.

Occasionally stop thinking about tomorrow or yesterday. Make a conscious effort to mentally and emotionally exist in the time and place you are right now. Look around, sit still, and enjoy. Be present where you are, instead of always taking yourself somewhere else. It isn’t easy, because we’re programmed to look forward (and back) but a lot of the beauty in life resides in the small details. And if you aren’t present, you’ll miss them.

3. Forget the term “haters.”

Stop worrying about your “haters.” Chances are, unless you are a famous rap artist or have over 100,000 Twitter followers, you don’t even have “haters.” There will always be people hoping you fail – it’s human nature. But even acknowledging these people is letting them win. They don’t matter. Stop making them.

4. Be positive.

I’ve been as guilty as anyone of pushing the lines of sarcasm. And hey, a lot of the time, sarcasm is great. It’s often necessary and usually hilarious. But I’m learning that too much sarcasm eventually becomes cynicism. And no matter how good-intentioned it is, cynicism is off-putting.

People would rather have positivity. Not cheesy, inspirational-photo-with-famous-quote-on-Facebook positivity, but real, genuine positivity. And I’m starting to agree with people. Nice people are just better to be around than non-nice people. Again, I’m a big fan of sarcasm and wit, but there’s a thin line between those things and all-out negativity. It’s important to know where it is. Because at some point, a sarcastic asshole just becomes an asshole.

5. Unleash your childlike exuberance.

The longer I live, the more I realize that childlike exuberance is the key to happiness. I’m not saying you should go around acting like a toddler during the day – that’ll probably get you fired from your job and/or arrested. But let yourself get excited about stuff. Take yourself less seriously. Drink some wine and roll around on the floor with a dog or something. Whatever. Just do it.

6. Do something good for yourself every day.

One thing, at least. Food, exercise, spirituality, intellect. Make a good decision somewhere.

7. Nobody cares if you’re offended.

Nobody. It’s extremely uninteresting, like less interesting than which celebrities are currently dating each other. It’s fine to be offended, if you’re so inclined. Just try to keep it to yourself. Being offended doesn’t make you intelligent or progressive, it just makes you sensitive to certain things. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But nobody cares.

8. Enjoy the journey.

Similar to number two, but more about appreciating your current place in life. We often get caught up in chasing some future goal – career, marriage, whatever – and it can cause us to think negatively about our present situation. But chances are, sometime in the future you’ll long for the place you are right now. You’ll look back on it with unbridled nostalgia, some of which will be valid.

Even if you haven’t “made it” yet, there are things about your current life – freedom, adventure, lack of responsibility – that’d you’ll miss at some point. Do your best to appreciate them before they’re gone.



  1. Mary Ann Jagodzinski09-26-2013

    Sam, that is ancexcellent Blog. I will print it and reread it because it is harder to think the way you outlined, the older you get.

    I will also send it to my 15 yr. Old and 18 year old grandsons. I’ve given you book about your summer in Alaska to the 15 year old. He did a school book report on it. Anxious to hear about feedback he got.

    Keep on writing! Your Great Aunt, Mary Ann

    • Sam09-27-2013

      Thanks MA. I always appreciate your comments. And I am flattered and very nervous to hear about the book report!

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Sam Neumann | sam@samneumann.com | Boulder, CO