My friend and copywriter recently left at my job to go teach music. Before he did, I read a dynamite post on his blog which inspired me to write my own. Here’s a little snapshot of some things I’ve picked up along the way:
1. You would love everyone if you knew their story
The older I get the more compassion I have. New York is one of those places that puts you to the test every single day. When you’re crammed on a subway with zero personal space and strangers pressed up against you, you can either learn to become extremely angry or extremely relaxed.
When I encounter someone who is rude, I try to think up a story in my head for why they might be having a bad day. For example, if a woman smacks me with her bag (often), I think: maybe she has 3 kids and is low on sleep, maybe she’s in debt, or maybe she’s honestly unaware. I’ve been that person too.
You never know what people are going through in life, so try to be kind rather than attack.
2. Whatever the problem, sleep is the answer
Holy moly if only I followed this advice more. If you’re crabby, worried, stressed, anything, just go to sleep. Nine times out of ten you’ll wake up in a better mood. So many of life’s problems can be solved on a clear head.
PS If you ever have trouble sleeping like I do, I have discovered the wonderful miracle that is Melatonin. I call it “Mellie” for short. It’s all natural, you get it at Whole Foods, and 3mgs will knock you out.
3. Whatever the problem, a walk is the second best answer
Get out of your apartment, get out of your head, go for a walk. It will help everything, promise. Extra bonus points if you can get an iced latte + sunshine in the mix.
4. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be
Don’t worry, you’re doing it right, you’re here for a reason. Everything lead you up to this moment, and you can re-evaluate and change course at any time if you feel off.
5. Listen to your tiny mad ideas
When you get a bug, or a blip of an idea, for goodness sake write it down. Take action. Don’t question it, just use it and go with it. Too often I think of something and then think, that was weird, why did that pop in my head? But I’m learning to harness it.
Sometimes it can be as simple as texting a friend, and then they will say, “That was so weird I was just thinking XYZ! Have you heard about this?” and BAM, there was a reason you thought of it.
Most recently I signed up for Motorcycle Safety School. Say what? Yep, tiny mad idea. Moto themes have been popping up for the past several weeks. I used to ride when I was in Minn but never in the driver’s seat. But now, more than ever, I have an urge to be in the driver’s seat, in every aspect of my life. So I found this class and am strangely excited for something that is way out of my comfort zone in terms of hobbies. But, I’m going with the flow.
6. Shitty first drafts
This gem comes from Anne Lamott, in her book Bird by Bird. When you’re stuck, just write a shitty first draft that no one will ever read. Get the words out on paper and let them be totally dumb. I apply this to design too. When I’m stuck, get rid of the whitespace, move things around, just try something that no one will ever see. It’s the only way to get the flow going.
7. Eye contact
I’m stealing this one from Paul because it’s so good. Ever in a situation where you know you should make eye contact, but it feels awkward, so you end up looking away? Well, the solution is simple: just blink. This trick has literally changed my life even in the past week.
8. Going away gifts can change someone’s life
In New York there is a high turnover of people coming and going, especially at startups. I’ve switched jobs myself and have lost count of how many people have left even in the 2 years I’ve been here. One trend I’ve noticed is the going away gift. I’ve met some sweet people who, upon departure, have gifted me everything from a homemade dinner, a microphone for recording music, and expensive lipstick that I would never have splurged on myself. It sounds weird if you’re not used to it, but I love the communal exchange. It really opens doors for you if you let it. And it shines light on what’s important in life, which is relationships. So thank you friends, and you better believe I’m paying it forward.
9. Weekends are for resting, sans guilt
I still struggle with this, the feeling that if I’m not being productive I’m wasting time. But the past month or so I’ve been forcing myself to slow down, and it really is a healthy mindset. I mean, just look at Californians, with their glowing skin and stress-free attitudes…
10. Take a beautiful drive
Get some coffee, find a long stretch of highway, put on a mix and cherish it. All you non-NYers take driving for granted. But here, driving is a TREAT. And also, therapy. Maybe it’s cause we’re cooped up in these tiny little apartments. But the open road is such a luxury. Today I got on the turnpike and just went for it. I could have driven straight to Philly if I let myself. It can be meditative or restorative, however you need it.
That’s all for now. :)