Makes me think

I ran across this blog a couple of days ago, and, perhaps it was my frame of mind at the time, or maybe it’s the year I had…or maybe it’s just stunningly good advice.

Very shortly, presumably just after Christmas, we’ll start getting inundated with the inevitable and ubiquitous end of year lists…the best, the worst, the most, the least, the favourite, the despised… And yeah, I like some of these lists just like the next guy.  If nothing, it gives me a peek into what someone else values.

At the same time, a vast majority of us will also use this time to consider what they want to do better next year and then create their New Year’s Resolutions.  God knows I’ve done it many times…and really in all these years, I kept a grand total of two.  One year, way back in high school, I resolved to not swear for an entire year…and did it.  And, way back around 1991 or so, I resolved to start writing again.  That one’s worked out fairly well.

But overall, how many are serious about their resolutions…and how many actually keep them?

So, back to my first point.  The blog I discovered.  The first thing that caught me was the actual blog post that I will be talking about in a second.  The second was the MMT site they have set up.  Let’s talk about the MMT one first.

You’ve likely seen, or at least heard of the FML site.  FML standing for F*ck My Life.  Basically, it’s a site that people can go on and post a short note on something negative or sucky or embarrassing that happened to them.  Followed by the FML tag.  Here’s a taste:

Today, I talked to my dad about joining the military. He got up, laughed, and said, ‘As if the army would accept a pussy like you.’ FML

So, in direct counterpoint to that, comes MMT, which stands for the much nicer Makes Me Think.  This is another one where you share your stories, but these are ones that provoke deep thought and inspire positive change.

An example:

Today, I was driving home from the doctor’s office today after a not-so-great diagnosis, and it must have shown on my face that I was upset, because as I was stopped at a red light a guy in the car next to me rolled down his window and signaled for me to roll down mine. When I rolled down my window he said, “Smile, seriously. You’re beautiful!” I smiled, and then as we both drove away, I cried. That stranger’s kindness keeps me hopeful and MMT.

I must say, I became quite taken with this site and couldn’t stop reading the short posts.  And I found myself smiling after finishing each one.  Which I think is one of the points of the posts.

And then there’s the blog post that got me to the site in the first place.  Entitled 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself, it’s an absolutely brilliant list of things that everyone should consider.  Even if it means you don’t finish the rest of this blog, go now, click on the link, and read all 30 points.

While every one of the points is important, there’s a few I’d like to highlight that speak to me in particular.

1 – Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.  If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you.  You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot.  Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth.  And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.

It took me a long time to learn this lesson.  Far too long.  And now it’s one that I’m trying to pass on to my kids as soon as possible.

5 – Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.  Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you.  Don’t change so people will like you.  Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.

I see this around me all the time.  A person who is themselves when alone, completely different when they’re with their “significant other”.  Why?  Because that’s the way they have to be to be with that person.  So they don’t love you for who you are, but who you are bullshitting them into thinking you are.  Or someone going for a job and completely coming off as different from who they are, because they think that’s what they need to do to get the job.  In either case, if they don’t like you for who you really are, then you shouldn’t be fighting (and faking) to be with them.

7 – Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing.  Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success.  You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.

We all make mistakes.  God knows I’ve made millions.  Which is okay, as long as you learn from them.  And no one should fault you for that.  Though, along the way, some people may drop away from you for the mistake you made.  And that’s part of the cost of the learning.  That’s okay too.

10 – Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. – If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either.  You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else.

Love yourself first. Nuff said.

12 – Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises.  Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.

If you’re completely ready, then you’re not going to make mistakes.  And you’re not going to learn.  Embrace that feeling of being uncomfortable.  It means you’re alive and learning.

17- Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you.  You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough.  But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past.  You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation.  So smile!  Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.

I’m good at this.  But I have to look beyond all the crap and realize none of it killed me, none of it beat me.  I survived all of it.  And I’m still standing.

24 – Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile.  Don’t take the easy way out.  Do something extraordinary.

If it ain’t hard…if it doesn’t make you sweat…if it’s not a challenge…why are you doing it?  How will you ever grow from it?

26 – Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life.  When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.

This one drives me crazy in this world of “pass the buck” and “it ain’t in my job description” and “not in my sandbox”.  Take some friggin’ accountability.

28 – Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy.  One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time?  Three years?  Five years?”  If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.

Really, what does worrying get you?  FIFO…Fix It or F*ck Off.

So when I’m thinking about all the things I should do or I should be in the fresh new world of 2012, I think this is the list I most need to look at.

Thank you Marc and Angel for making me think.


4 thoughts on “Makes me think

  1. Great post Tobin! I love these sites and I agree – the MMT one gives a smile or warm glow each time. Interestingly – my computer wouldn’t let me go to the FML site. I don’t think fate wants me to be exposed to the negativity. Our society has this weird connection to negativity and funny – which when you stand back and look at it, is often hurtful, sad, and full of pain. Odd that we have come to that. I say MMT all the way!

  2. Thanks for this, Tobin. It’s incredibly enlightening and somewhat depressing just how many of these I’m guilty of. Going to check out the website and see just how many of them apply to me.

    • I’m right there with you Jason. I’m guilty of all of them myself. And there’s still one I can’t bring myself to embrace. # 18 – Stop holding grudges. Maybe it’s some of the wrongs that have been done to me, maybe I just don’t want to. Either way, there’s some grudges I’ll hold til the day I die.

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