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Thursday, October 22, 2015

My List of Life/Dating Advice

People love to give advice, and most of the time it isn't particularly helpful.
Sometimes though, someone will share something that actually makes a difference.
For several years now I've kept a list of the more useful tips that have come my way.
I've shared portions of my list with several people over the years, and generally they seem to find it helpful.
I've decided to publish this list on my blog, so that more people can benefit from the things I've learned as I have struggled through single life.
A lot of this may seem like common sense, but hey...you have to figure it out sometime.

Here is my list:

-Don't try any new grooming techniques just before a date or an important event. These things rarely turn out well the first time.

-People usually want to date people that other people also want to date. Going on dates makes you more attractive. This also means that if you want to go out with someone, chances are you will have competition. Be prepared to be patient, be persistent, and avoid jealousy.

-The least interested person is usually in control of the relationship.

-In relationships, you have to pick your battles. Some things aren't worth getting upset over. Learn to forgive and forget, especially when you are only upset because you want to be with them. Don't risk hurt feelings over delays, bad days, and things beyond their control.

-Don't waste your energy on flakes or ice-queens. They may appear interesting and attractive, but they are cold, elusive, selfish, and inconsiderate, and you don't want someone like that.

-When things don't work out with someone, you may never find out exactly what happened, and they don't owe you an explanation. Just accept this and move on.

-When things don't work out, don't beat yourself up. It could just be due to differences in taste, or expectations, and not anything wrong with you. Remember the words of Captain Picard. "It is possible to commit no errors and still lose. This is not weakness, it is life."

-Dating is like playing poker. If you bet too much, too early in the game, you will overwhelm them and cause them to fold. You start by placing small bets, and see if they match it. This gives each of you time to gain confidence in the strength of your hand, and become more invested.
Also in poker, the strength of your hand can change with time as more cards are revealed. The same goes for dating.  Be patient. Don't try to force things to happen too quickly.

-Don't play games with people's feelings, and be willing to forgive when misunderstandings arise. Almost nobody is really good at dating, and everyone will make mistakes, so be kind.

-Don't get discouraged when things don't work out after a few dates. The vast majority of dates will not result in a relationship, and most people will have many failed relationships along the way. Focus on learning from each experience, and don't give up. This will prepare you for when you finally do meet the right person. You will be able to recognize that things with them are different, and better.

-Yeah...asking someone out is scary and hard. Do it anyway! You might say the wrong thing and mess it up...probably lots of times...but the only way to get better is with practice, and it is ok to practice. Luckily, we all get lots of chances.

-It is totally ok to just go up to someone and introduce yourself. As long as you are friendly and confident, it will not seem creepy. Just smile, say "hello, I'm so-and-so", wait for them to introduce themselves, and everything else will follow naturally.
If they are in a group, it also helps if you don't just focus on the one person. Be universally friendly, and remember people's names. People take notice when someone ignores others in a group, or when a guy approaches a group, and only talks to the girls while ignoring all the other guys. Don't be that person. It's weird.

-Dating is almost always confusing and frustrating, but once in a while you click with someone, and suddenly it becomes easy. Enjoy those times, and when things are particularly rough, hold on to the hope of those possibilities.

-Learn to not get offended, and practice this skill often. It really is a frame of mind. When someone says or does something that hurts you, don't over think things and invent circumstances and reasons for their offense. This will just build resentment, and will make you feel even worse. Give them the benefit of the doubt, because the offense was probably not intentional anyway.

-"You can't reason with crazy."

-Sometimes, all it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage to make great things happen. (We Bought a Zoo.)

-If you find yourself in a slump, set a goal to get rejected ten times in a month. Since you are planning on getting rejected, it takes the pressure off, and removes a lot of the disappointment. Something good will come from this exercise.

-Sometimes people really are busy, and other times they are just flaky. Be persistent. If they aren't giving you obvious signs of disinterest, ask them out until they give you a definite "no". Don't put all your eggs in one basket though. You should be asking out other people at the same time. Remember that people are usually interested in people that others want to date. If they are just flaky, they will drift away, but if they are just busy, and they see you being proactive, they will find time for you.

-Often there are two conflicting philosophies on dating. Some argue in favor of serendipity and that things will just happen when the time is right.  Others say that you have to make your own opportunities. Really it is a combination of both. Be brave, do hard things, and act on opportunities when they arise. Go talk to that person you see across the room! When things go well, looking back it will feel like serendipity, but really you had to do something hard to get there.

-The old adage that words can never hurt is false. Words can and do hurt. Remember to always be kind.

-Find someone that you want to put above yourself. This is the best indication of real love.

-Forget the idea of "choosing" someone. Just do what you are supposed to do, go on dates, and one day things will just click with someone. They choose you as much as you choose them.

-"I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person." -Cary Grant

-The only people worth following are the ones you want to be like.

-Don't focus on finding the right person as much as being the right person. This is old advice, but it is true.

-When contemplating marriage, don't get stressed out because you don't know what your marriage will be like.  Remember that the two of you together are the ones making the rules, so you can make your marriage whatever you want it to be.

-Occasionally you will meet an attractive person that seems very compatible with you, but for whatever reason they won't make themselves available. It is easy to get hung up on these people. Be willing to let them go. You want someone who wants to be with you, and will make you a priority. Besides, you can't force someone to like you.

-Fortune favors the bold.

-If you are feeling anxiety about your relationship and have a lack of confidence in its solidarity, it is probably for good reason. Talk it out, don't drag it out.

-If someone wants to walk out of your life, let them go. If you know that you were at your best, and treated them well, then you can move on with no regrets.

-Learn to be happy by yourself. Get yourself sorted out first. A relationship won't fix you or make you happy if you aren't already happy on your own.

-Being single does not mean that there is something wrong with you, just as being married does not mean that everything is right with you. There are plenty of screwed up married people, and plenty of amazing single people. Your relationship status has no bearing on your individual worth.


That's all I have for now, but this list is constantly growing, so this may turn out to be a living blog post, updated from time to time. I hope some of these things turn out to be helpful.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Emotional Parks and Rec Response

Recently I've gotten into Parks and Rec.
I know...I know... I'm way behind...
In my defense, I tried to get into it a while ago, but after making it midway through season 2, I still wasn't liking it.
Luckily, due to the influence of my awesome girlfriend, I gave season 2 another chance, and it finally got good!

Anyway, the other day I had a whole emotional experience in response to an episode.
Saturday morning, I watched a few episodes before going for a long and difficult bike ride.
I don't know why, but for some reason when I am under physical stress, my emotions are closer to the surface.

As I was breathing hard and struggling up a big hill, a particular portion of dialog came to mind, and I got all emotional and misty eyed.
In the scene, Ben goes to the chief of police to ask for a favor in behalf of Leslie Knopp.
Ben was really nervous, because they were asking for a lot.
After hearing the request, the chief tells him, "Leslie Knopp gets as many favors as she wants."
Confused by his generosity, Ben says, "Can I ask why?"
The chief simply says, "Because she's the sort of person who uses favors to help other people."

When I first heard this, I didn't think much of it, but for some reason, in that moment of exertion, that scene really had an impact on me. I feel like it is a profound testimony of the value of character. We should all aspire to live our lives in such a way that similar things could be said of us.