My brother-in-law (hi, dude!) brought this to my attention a couple of weeks ago and it's been percolating in my mind ever since. It occurs to me that '6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person" is a perfect thing to dissect at New Year's, when much of the world is preoccupied with resolutions. Let's remember that that word, resolutions, should really be hyphenated: "re-solutions". What's in your life that needs solving? And does it really need solving again? If so, why didn't you solve it right the first time?
This article is full of food for thought, written in Cracked magazine's inimitable style. Ultimately, though, the first three courses didn't sit all that well with me...
'TRUTH' 1: THE WORLD ONLY CARES ABOUT WHAT IT CAN GET FROM YOU
The way this is presented, it's self-evident. "Niceness" alone isn't going to count for a whole hell of a lot when surgery is required. Yet even here, something grates on me. Look at the writer's examples of things society needs: houses, food, entertainment, fulfilling sexual relationships.
Yeah, that's some of what the world needs now. You can sure tell a man wrote this, though--a woman would likely have written 'fulfilling relationships', without the qualifier. That would have covered a lot more ground, and been more true to life besides.
Here's some stuff that's missing:
and...well, we'll let Jackie DeShannon finish up.
None of these things pay...in money. But all of them will make you rich nonetheless...and the lack of them will make you poor indeed.
Yes, the world only cares about what it can get from you. But do you care?
'TRUTH' 2: THE HIPPIES WERE WRONG (YOU ARE YOUR JOB)
The hippies were only wrong because we let them be.We rejected their vision of a world of peace, love and understanding and replaced it with a world crammed full to bursting with violence, hate and confusion.
There is something to be said about your job being your contribution to the world. But you, in your job, can be a contribution to the world no matter how menial or masterful that job may be.
I work in retail. I've worked in retail for most of my life. The overall contribution of my job to society at large is insignificant in the extreme.
But I meet a lot of people. And I try to make each person I meet happier in some small way for my having met them. ("Shared pain is lessened and shared happiness is increased and thus do we refute entropy"). My job, like everything else in my life, has the meaning I give it. And I choose to infuse that job with the meaning that is me.
'TRUTH' 3: WHAT YOU PRODUCE DOES NOT HAVE TO MAKE MONEY, BUT IT DOES HAVE TO BENEFIT PEOPLE
I actually can't argue that. But what a pithy and strange example he gives: he claims women fall for the jerks because they have something to offer beyond being "a nice guy". In my admittedly limited understanding -- I'm not a woman, needless to say -- the idea is to date the jerks for the adventure that's in it...and then marry your best friend, the nice guy. Any other path, such as, for instance, marrying a jerk...probably leads to heartbreak. Because usually jerks don't change.
There is one corollary here that needs to be hammered home. Want to be loved? Be loveable. Couple that with confidence, the kind of thing that jerks have oozing out of the stuffed crotches of their jeans, and you're golden.
'TRUTH' 4: YOU HATE YOURSELF BECAUSE YOU DON'T DO ANYTHING
Well, I don't hate myself, but it's true: I could do more. I fancy myself a writer; I don't write enough to really be a writer. This is the core of the message in this article, and it is a good message, a valid message. Thoughts are creative. Words are even more creative. But actions...
And I don't mean clicking 'Like' on Facebook.
Which brings us to
TRUTH 5: WHO YOU ARE INSIDE ONLY MATTERS BECAUSE OF WHAT IT MAKES YOU DO
One of my favourite authors, Gary Jennings, once said "pray into one hand and piss into the other and see which one fills up faster". This holds equally true for the "thoughts" that serve as secular prayers, viz. "I'll keep you in my thoughts". All well and good--thinking about someone or something is probably better than not thinking about him, her or it.
2013 is the year I'm getting off my ass and improving myself. I'm not sure I'll get everything on the list done--it costs--but damnit, there is a list this year and we've already acted on some of it. I've been thinking about betterment for a long time, hoping that'd make me better. It didn't. At some point, actual effort's needed. Why not now?
TRUTH 6: EVERYTHING INSIDE YOU WILL FIGHT IMPROVEMENT
And it has. It took me a while to equate the things I've been saying for years, the things I still believe -- "I am not my job", "Money isn't everything", and "Accept what comes", among others, with the real sense of stagnation I've been struggling with for the last couple of years. It is possible to be content with what life brings, yet still desire new experiences. It is possible to be happy making a living, and yet yearn to make more of life.
Happy 2013, everyone.