Tag Archives: self-help

I Tried to Go One Month Without Spending Any Money. This Ended Badly (via Success)

These taste like paper

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Success — I cut out inessential spending for one month. And by that, I mean: I didn’t come anywhere near cutting out inessential spending for a month.

For the record, I tried. My assignment was simple: Eliminate all spending that wasn’t essential to the health of my family, the payment of recurring bills or the survival of the pets. No fancy coffee. No clothes. No cocktails. No movies. Nothing outside of the pure necessities of life in a hardening America. Then at the close of the experiment, I was to report all of my glittering lessons about the value of self-denial, discipline and minimalism.

Here’s what I learned: Life can get crazy, and sometimes you just want a taco.

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Silver Linings Playbook: What I Learned from 30 Days of Endless Positive Thinking (via Success)

silverliningsplaybook

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Success — My earliest memory is a pretty bad one. I was called out by a substitute teacher in kindergarten for talking during story time.

You could argue that, in the grand scheme of things, getting in trouble at 5 isn’t that big of a deal. But the story, and how it’s burned into my brain forever, speaks to a shared and brutal human reality: We cling to the bad moments—getting busted in kindergarten, botching a speech, getting broken up with the day after the prom, feeling wordlessly judged by someone in richer clothes, whiffing on a 3-2 count in the bottom of the ninth—with more force than we afford the good ones. Negative memories are monstrous beasts, gross and sticky octopuses that attach themselves with ferocious tenacity to the present. Science, Eastern religion, elections and all eight Star Wars movies prove that negative powers aren’t easily fought. Only the strongest and most disciplined minds can train themselves to destroy the darkness with light.

I do not have such a mind.

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On “The Secret” and manifest density

GateHouse  — Fans of the self-help section at the bookstore, please put down your Mitch Albom books, yoga mats and Josh Groban CDs for a minute and look alive – “The Secret” is heading your way.

One of those movements that’s referred to a movement in the media but is pretty much just a book ($24.95) and a DVD ($34.95), “The Secret” has been sweeping the nation, or at least the portions that are into Oprah and pricey new-agey manuals, which is most of the nation, come to think of it.

The idea is so simple and ridiculous that it’s a wonder no one thought of it first. But first, Spoiler Alert: I am now going to reveal “The Secret,” so if you do not wish to learn the undiluted key to spiritual and mental fulfillment, stop reading now! Good, you’re still here. Alright, ready? It’s pork.

Ha ha! Just kidding! The real answer, of course, is far less sensible: “The Secret” argues that you can make stuff happen by thinking about it really hard. Visualizing – “manifesting,” they call it, because redefining vague verbs makes you sound awesome – your goals will quite literally make them come to pass within a relatively short period of time. If you want a mansion, envision a mansion. If you want to encrust yourself in gold, envision yourself encrusted in gold. If you want Conrad Black to spend the rest of his pathetic life mopping up the breakroom toilets at a rendering factory, envision it happening (and I do, often). If you want Naomi Watts to show up at your door wearing a Notre Dame cheerleader outfit and … OK, you know what, everyone stay out of my manifest.

This, goes “The Secret” is it. A little smidge of luck couldn’t hurt, and putting in some effort would be nice (in fact, “The Secret” argues, for instance, that if you wish to be married you sleep on one side of the bed and keep half your closet open, a suggestion that just caused all actual married people to fire coffee out of their noses). But the general idea is that the universe can be bent by the whims of human mental experience, provided part of that mental experience involves dropping $35 on a DVD that sports a picture of what appears to be Yul Brynner staring down from the heavens with an expression on his face that suggests he’s passing a live squirrel through his colon.

The joke is, of course, that many, many people did think of the believe-in-yourself mojo first, including the Jedi, the Wiggles and the originators of pretty much every religion in the history of the human experience. But, “Secret” organizers point out, it’s not religiously oriented, and closer examination reveals that there are a few key differences, such as this one: “The Secret” has much cooler fonts. Also, the guy from those “Chicken Soup For The Soul” books is somehow involved, as is the guy who wrote “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.” I’ll look up his name later, OK, because I told you, this is my POKER NIGHT. WE TALKED ABOUT THIS. Finally, “The Secret” also really, really looks like “The Da Vinci Code,” but I’m sure that’s just a crazy fluke of typography, graphic design, marketing, editing, conception and execution.

If the word “cult” has manifested in your mind at any point while reading this article, banish it immediately (the word, that is. Keep the article). “The Secret” is not a cult. You can tell, because it has really lame celebrities. This isn’t Scientology, people, and you can’t reasonably put the “Chicken Soup” twerp up against Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Chef from “South Park” and Jennifer Lopez. Pfft. It’d be a throttling, and that’d be before the 75-million-year old alien ruler Xenu showed up to drop the elbow from the top rope.

No, this isn’t a cult. Cults are scary. People who charge people exorbitant fees to teach them stuff they knew already, that’s not a cult. That’s Oprah … wait, wait! No! I’m just kidding! She’ll kill me! I mean, that’s just marketing, and it’s a pretty lousy secret.


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