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10 Things I Want to Communicate to the Human Species Before I Die

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We all have our causes. Henry Heimlich was determined to teach the world that you can save a choking victim with abdominal thrusts. I want to convince the world to eat unseasoned vegetables, help irksome strangers, and do eccentric thought exercises.

. . . and many other things. Here are ten insights I feel a need to impress on the world somehow.

Take my pleadings as seriously as you like. I’ve written in greater detail about some of these points already, and will elaborate on the others eventually.

1. Your shopping cart doesn’t need to go wherever you go.

This is a minor point, but most people don’t seem to know this. You do not have to wheel your cart right up to every item you want to buy at the grocery store. The cart is a bin with wheels, not a car. If there’s any appreciable cart traffic, you can park it in an out of the way place, then fetch any nearby items much quicker on foot. It’s seldom necessary to navigate a two hundred pound cargo bin down an aisle choked with other carts, just because a few items on your list are in that aisle. Gather on foot, move around the store with the cart. This method ensures you never need to block anyone from accessing anything or passing by, and will almost never have to wait behind someone else who is doing that. Treat the cart like a mothership rather than a truck.

An independent entity

2. Societies are better when liberals and conservatives keep each other in check.

Liberalism and conservatism are two types of thinking virtually all humans can understand. We can all appreciate the value of openness to new ideas and ways of life, while also recognizing the value of preserving what’s good and questioning radical changes. Encouraged by simplistic media narratives, people tend to identify with one and demonize the other, and regard their favored perspective as the way everything must be viewed all the time. That’s a mistake. When one principle pushes the other to the margins, you get the worst societies ever. Society will only be improved by people who can keep both these perspectives in their head at once.

[Further reading]

When divergent perspectives are strongly discouraged

3. Exercise is the magic bullet.

As I ranted about recently, the benefits of regular vigorous exercise are the equivalent of a magical pill with dozens of benefits, including a longer life, improved confidence, increased attractiveness, better mood, and better sleep. It works better than any other interventions we know of for those and other ailments, and the cost is reasonable: a few hours of manual labor per week. We’re always looking for magic bullets. This is the magic bullet. It’s here. It’s reliable. It’s available to all. Don’t live life without taking advantage.

Off-patent and widely available

4. Humans want everything to be someone’s fault.

The human mind always wants a culprit. Misfortunes like traffic jams don’t just happen — they’re always the fault of bad drivers, bad city planners, suburban homeowners, or road crews that work too slow. Humans really don’t want to confront the fact that suffering is inevitable. It’s much easier for us to bear pain or inconvenience when we can convince ourselves that it only occurs due to bad actors, rather than the complex and blameless physics of life. This urge to attribute bad things to bad people is probably some natural quirk of human psychology. It seems that we mostly trust this impulse, and we rarely talk about it. Ironically, it is a quirk very easily exploited by bad actors who want to harness your pain and direct your outrage toward their adversaries.

[Further reading]

5. Three meals a day is probably excessive for many people.

Someone has convinced the Western world that we have some biological need to eat every five hours, even as the majority of the population is suffering from illnesses caused by overconsumption. Everyone seems to believe they will collapse into complete dysfunction and suffering if they don’t eat at all the customary times. In my experience, “missed meal” pangs don’t last more than a few minutes, have nothing to do with the body’s nutritional needs, and don’t happen at all after a few days of not eating at that particular time. There’s no way the human body is meant to always be digesting.

[Further reading]

Effects of bad policy

6. The “lived” in “short-lived” rhymes with “dived.”

Nobody I know says it that way, but they’re all wrong. The “lived” part of “short-lived” is derived from the noun “life” — it is not the past tense of the verb “to live.” The word short-lived describes a thing that has, or had, a short life, not something that “lived shortly.” It’s the same adjective-noun formation as “curly-haired” or “gold-plated.” Just as something that has a short life is “short-lived,” someone who has a short knife could be described as “short-knived,” and someone with a short wife “short-wived.” I know this argument is somewhat of a lost cause — it’s one of those cases where overwhelming misuse has made it acceptable. Pedantry aside, I think most people who use this term would want to know. The discussions around the topic are interesting in any case.

7. Restricting speech only helps the people in power.

I know many smart people who believe punishing “harmful” speech helps to defend vulnerable minorities. They’re being played like a fiddle. Make no mistake: it will always be the people in power who ultimately decide what speech is allowable. They will restrict it in a way that serves them, and to the degree to which the public lets them. The compassion of misguided activists is being exploited by the powerful to undermine the most basic recourse disempowered populations still have: the right to say what they think is true. Curtailing speech, whether through law or social taboo, consolidates power like nothing else, as every authoritarian regime has shown us. Many well-meaning people who believe they’re “fighting the power” are actually handing them the keys.

Available in Eastern Europe since 1989

8. Religion is not “ancient superstition.

The great religions caught on because they successfully communicated something vital about the human condition to a large number of people. Their founders are probably some of the wisest and most insightful people our species ever generated. The ignorance of some followers of religious traditions (and of most detractors of religion), no matter how many, do not make those traditions nonsense. Hardline atheists and hardline fundamentalists make the same mistake when they regard religious texts as collections of factual claims, rather than instructive works of literature. There’s so much there for the inquisitive person, and nothing for the know-it-all.

Actually something here

9. We take morality very seriously but make moral judgments very flippantly.

Virtually everything people argue about is a moral issue — what’s right and what’s wrong, who’s a good or bad person, who deserves to be voted off the island, et cetera. There’s nothing people care more about than morality, yet we make moral judgments in seconds, and seldom doubt them or entertain multiple conclusions. We act as though most questions of right and wrong are no-brainers even when half the population utterly disagrees with us. That’s because moral intuition and moral reasoning are completely different mental processes, which evolved for different purposes. Our intuitions — our snap-judgments—are survival reflexes that help us form coalitions with others to keep ourselves safe. Moral reasoning is a much newer capacity, and it’s very hard to do while your reptile brain is terrified to question a popular idea, or agree with an unpopular person. A basic understanding of that dynamic could make us all a little less crazy.

Asked too many unpopular questions

10. You cant ruminate and listen at the same time.

The tendency of the modern human is to live in their head — almost perpetually monologuing and forecasting and rehashing. This is a seldom-helpful habit most of us reinforce constantly by tumbling along with its momentum. You can weaken the grip of the ruminative mind by frequently taking a few seconds to be quiet and listen to your surroundings. Doing this reveals something interesting: when you actively use your attention for listening (or in any other intentional way) it cannot be used for more rumination. Each time you do this, the gravity of the monologuing mind weakens. If even a fraction of the population learned how to perforate their ongoing ruminative thought-mill like this, it might be a different world.

“A Van Gogh painting of Van Gogh agonizing over his thoughts,” according to DALL-E

Not everyone will agree with all the above diatribes, and that’s the point — we have to make our cases to each other.

I’d be interested to hear what you’d like to convince our species of, especially if it’s somewhat eccentric. Let us know in the comments.


Do you like Raptitude?

Do you think some of the ideas on this site are worth employing in real life?

Then you’d probably be into this: we’re doing the Raptitude Field Trip for a second time. A group of readers and I are going to try out some classic Raptitude practices, then discuss how it went on the message board.

It’s a mini-course you can do on any online device. It’s easy and inexpensive, and will give you seven perspective-giving tools you can use for the rest of your life.

There’s still a few days to sign up. UPDATE: The Field Trip is underway and registration is closed. There will be others though.

[Sign up]

[What is the Raptitude Field Trip?]


The field trip was exactly what I needed to lift me out of a mini-slump. Each session was unique, easy to understand, and powerful in its simplicity.

-Rebecca, Mount Vernon, WA


Photos by Jezael Melgoza, Alfred Kenneally, Thomas Evans, NOAA, Abdul Ahad Shiekh, Alessandro Bellone; others public domain

John May 5, 2023 at 12:05 pm

This is a great list, and (for me) #7 is an urgent problem to solve (or improve) immediately. I don’t have any answers (at the ready), but I can see the problem and David has done a nice job of defining it.

David Cain May 5, 2023 at 2:50 pm

Very urgent. Once it’s gone it’s so hard to get back.

izzy May 6, 2023 at 9:12 am

If you have anything to say, do it soon

Geoff May 7, 2023 at 4:47 pm

A lot of the value of the other points rest on the assurance of point #7.

Alice May 5, 2023 at 12:13 pm

Another minor one: in a store parking lot, it makes no sense to back into a parking spot. You are holding everyone else up while you slowly try to maneuver your truck backwards into a spot. Just drive into the spot, and when it’s time to leave you have all that open area behind you to back out into. Plus if you drive straight in, the possibility exists that you might be able to pull through if there’s no car opposite your spot, either right then or when you get out of the store. It’s a thrill you’ll deny yourself if you back in.

David Cain May 5, 2023 at 2:52 pm

Agreed. I have never known why people do this. It’s way harder to back into a spot than back out, and you have to do one or the other.

Robert May 5, 2023 at 3:36 pm

Personally, I prefer backing in everywhere. It’s safer than backing out. Any time lost by you and others while you are backing in is recouped when you leave.
The only place it doesn’t make sense to back in is at the grocery store. If there’s one place I actually need to be able to pull my shopping cart right up to it’s the trunk of my car.

Geoff May 7, 2023 at 4:54 pm

Yeah I disagree with this one.

I don’t think it’s much harder to back in.

With 4 kids, my wife and I tend to drive straight in, because we often need lots of access to the bootspace.

But in general, I don’t find it difficult to back in, and in tight parking spots, with a large vehicle, you often have to drive in, then reverse slightly, and correct before you can fit into the spot, which is not faster at all.

I suppose there are other niche situtations where driving straight in would be better, but all things being equal, backing is very feasible, and in the tightest of carparks can be done in a single motion, when the opposite cannot.

vilx- May 8, 2023 at 11:30 am

I’m with the back-in crowd. While it might be arguably a little slower, getting out backwards is awkward every time (and much slower). And if there are cars on either side, you can’t see when it’s safe so need to hope for the best.

I suppose it might get faster once you’ve practiced a bit. Here’s a piece of great advice I once read on the internet which was a game-changer for me: “when parking, keep track of ALL FOUR corners of the car.” This makes it SO much easier. The front two corners you can see literally in front of you, while the rear corners (and the sides of the car) are visible in the side mirrors. As long as you keep them clear, you won’t hit anything and will be able to move easily and confidently.

Kevin May 7, 2023 at 4:50 am

I know it’s not a store, but I always back into my spot in our employee lot. I do that because a LOT of people here drive full-size trucks, and one will invariably wind up next to my car. Being able to “nose out” a little bit as I’m leaving is easier, and (IMO) safer.

Bradley Thomas Herman May 11, 2023 at 1:31 pm

Yes! Thank you… I also look at it this way:

It’s objectively far easier to back out of a tight spot into a wide open parking aisle than it is to back into a tight spot. You’re doing the hardest and most time consuming (and likely most dangerous) option for a minor convenience later.

I’d rate pulling into spot a 3, backing into a spot a 10, pulling out of a spot a 2, and backing out of a spot a 5. If you back in and pull out, you’re scoring an 12 difficulty, but pulling in and backing out nets you an 8.

Jill D May 5, 2023 at 12:25 pm

Clearly you don’t grocery shop with children. Or a purse. I do not recommend leaving either in a shopping cart while you roam the aisles of the supermarket in hunter-gatherer mode.

Nancy Armstrong May 5, 2023 at 2:03 pm

Amen to that Jill, not all of us can keep all the valuables in our pockets!

Barbara St. James May 5, 2023 at 2:19 pm

Excellent point. Also, someone might accidentally walk off with your cart.

Melinda L May 7, 2023 at 10:20 am

I have also had someone take my cart by accident more than once. And I’ve “lost” my cart when I can’t find where I left it or I’ve taken someone elses cart by mistake. If an aisle is too crowded with people or carts, I skip it and shop where it’s less crowded and then go back to that aisle.

David Cain May 5, 2023 at 2:53 pm

Good point

Heather May 17, 2023 at 4:40 pm

My husband subscribes to this way of thinking but leaves his cart in the most trafficked areas! It makes me crazy and I’m always grabbing it and tucking around a corner into the aisle instead of the market tributaries. Grocery stores, at least where we live don’t leave much room for navigating around carts with missing owners.

David Cain May 5, 2023 at 3:09 pm

Although once they’re old enough you can send them out gathering

Ecoteri May 5, 2023 at 11:19 pm

@Jill D. My purse has always been worn on me (as a backpack style, usually, more recently as a tiny bag worn across the chest). I prefer it on me at all times, and have seen one too many videos of how easily someone can rifle a purse in a cart that is ‘right beside’ the owner. As for the kids? well, I was lucky enough to wear them, too… one at a time, mind you…

Sharon Hanna May 6, 2023 at 3:55 pm

This just reminded me of a time when my maybe 18 month old was in the shopping cart – my friend was pushing it, I was a little ways away. Suddenly baby said “FUCK” clearly enunciating. My friend walked away from the cart ;-) It was hilarious. No idea where he heard that word!! And he hadn’t spoken much up until that point.

Lee Ann May 5, 2023 at 12:54 pm

I wish people could say something affirmative and pleasant after every complaint they make. Not only does it highlight how much we complain but also emphasizes what good things we are grateful for. After awhile, you begin to think about all the possibilities that your fellow human being is behaving so badly. Example: That person just cut me off in traffic at a high rate of speed! Maybe there’s an emergency. Maybe they are going to lose their job if they are late again. Maybe they had a terrible fight with their spouse and are still horribly angry. Thank goodness I’m not in those situations! I’m calm, paying attention and respectful to other drivers today.
Believe it or not, your life becomes far more pleasant when you practice this.

David Cain May 5, 2023 at 2:56 pm

Adding something affirmative would probably also increase the likelihood that the complaint is listened to. I remember reading about a technique affectionately called the “criticism sandwich” — you offer an acknowledgement of something good, deliver the criticism with respect, then say something positive (but genuine).

Ecoteri May 5, 2023 at 11:22 pm

@David Cain, if you google Criticism Sandwich you will see all kinds of articles bemoaning this advice. Forbes puts it succinctly “The Sandwich Approach Is Manipulative—And Undermines Trust.
The main issue with the sandwich approach is that it’s actually manipulation. In brief, you’re manipulating someone by distracting them from the main point—your constructive criticism.”
Instead, I suggest we find a way to make the wording of the criticism as kind as possible. (is it true, is it necessary, is it kind)..

Mary May 6, 2023 at 5:34 pm

I’ve read some of these articles and will be so sad if the criticism sandwich goes away. It’s my favorite way to receive feedback. I don’t care if some people deem it manipulative; it requires the other person to think of something positive to say about you, and I can’t see how that’s a bad thing (unless they can’t think of anything to say!).

David Cain May 6, 2023 at 8:42 pm

That’s really what it is. The criticism sandwich is just a philosophy… not to be taken too literally. You still need to be genuine.

Geoff May 7, 2023 at 4:59 pm

It’s amazing how easy it is to be irritated by a traffic jam, meanwhile, someone is at the front of the line, surrounded by broken glass and dented panels, and possibly injured, in a *much* more inconvenient situation that most people in the traffic jam.

DiscoveredJoys May 5, 2023 at 1:00 pm

Your smile is like RADAR. When you smile you send out a positive signal to the world and you are more likely to get a positive return over your social connections.

Your smile is like RADAR. When you smile you send a positive signal along to your mind and body and you are more likely to get a positive return over your internal connections.

So smile.

David Cain May 5, 2023 at 2:58 pm

This is a good one. Some meditation instructors have even suggested forming a slight smile while you sit, because it signals to your whole system to be more open and accepting to experience.

J. Money May 8, 2023 at 7:17 am

*** slow clap ***

Rebecca Wisent May 5, 2023 at 1:02 pm

Big fan of the shopping cart/base camp technique. I have high anxiety in busy grocery stores: it’s the glazed humans pushing heavy boxes on wheels while looking everywhere but in front of them that puts me on edge. I leave my shopping cart in an unpopular location, like in front of the vinegar selection or the case that holds premade sandwiches, then bob and weave through the slow-moving shopper/asteroids like a nimble space pilot, only returning to my cart when my hands are full. This is why I dread grocery shopping with a spouse and/or children. They really inhibit the flow. Caveat: the technique works well for grocery stores/Costco/the like, but those who may want to give it a go should know it doesn’t always work everywhere: more than once, bored Home Depot employees have gathered up my cart, assuming it abandoned, and made off with all the random bits and screws and paint samples I’d spent the last hour gathering.

Alice May 5, 2023 at 1:49 pm

And those of us who are actually looking for vinegar or a sandwich have no idea what to do with your cart that is blocking our access. Yes, it’s simple to move it, but why leave a bunch of strangers to deal with your stuff that is blocking the way while you’re off bobbing and weaving? I’m puzzled by this anti-cart stance; I have rarely if ever been troubled by other people pushing carts around.

David Cain May 5, 2023 at 3:01 pm

It’s easy to put your cart in a place where it does not block anything. That’s a big part of the technique. However, there’s nothing wrong with moving someone’s cart two feet to grab some vingear.

Louise May 6, 2023 at 10:11 pm

I enjoyed reading your “10 things” article. I want to know more about this easy place to put my cart so that it doesn’t block anything. I can’t think of even one. As a 69 year old woman with painful arthritis who wears bifocals, I don’t want to have to move anyone else’s cart out of my way when I need vinegar or a pre-made sandwich. I’m not agile or speedy in any way, so I won’t dodge and weave around other shoppers. My cart helps to stabilize me and protect me from the dodgers and weavers and the wild-eyed cart racers flying blindly around the end caps. Home grocery delivery is wonderful and worth the annual membership fee. Thanks for your thoughtful insights. Always look forward to your posts.

David Cain May 7, 2023 at 11:24 am


Usually I leave mine by an end display, bins in wide aisles or some other place where it doesn’t block traffic or access to any products. Worst case scenario they just move your unattended cart two feet and grab it

Amy Goldin May 5, 2023 at 2:30 pm

I never leave my cart for just that reason! someone will think it is abandoned and put the stuff back. Maybe I’m neurotic but that’s how I feel. The other points are profound and interesting so I’m not sure why I feel compelled to respond the this one!

David Cain May 5, 2023 at 3:04 pm

This has never happened to me. However I should clarify that I’m not leaving it there for more than about a minute. I used to work in grocery stores — no employee is bored enough to start doing putaways on a cart that’s just sitting there unless they know the shopper isn’t coming back.

Ecoteri May 5, 2023 at 11:25 pm

Bingo @ Rebecca – I have recently shopped with my 22 year old daughter and she keeps on taking the carefully parked cart and following me when I am simply darting down an aisle for ONE THING… ARGH. And Costco has a place where you can place your cart of discards, apparently… which is where I placed my cart of carefully assembled list-o-items when I rushed to the bathroom, only to be bewildered when it was GONE when I returned. I was able to snag it half-reshelved, but came home lacking a few important items…. never again!

Betty May 5, 2023 at 1:31 pm

These are very good points. I was afraid my memory of them might be “short lived” (I didn’t know how to pronounce this correctly) so I saved it all to my Keepers docs, like many of David’s articles.
I wish people would be more aware of indebtedness. Not everything you buy is necessary. I have no idea how the US will pay back $36 trillion either. One trillion SECONDS is 31,688 years. We can’t all go everywhere we want and do everything we want. Pull back on things and think of your ancestors and how they would be stunned at what you have. Be grateful.

David Cain May 5, 2023 at 3:07 pm

National debts are mind-boggling. Government debt is so easy to run up because the people borrowing it are never the ones responsible for paying it back. It’s like passing a limitless credit card down the generations.

Robert May 5, 2023 at 3:42 pm

I’m curious why you think the government has to pay it back, and who it was borrowed from that it needs to be paid back to.

vilx- May 8, 2023 at 11:33 am

The way I understand it, the government borrows from its own people. Eventually they’ll want their money back.

Andy May 5, 2023 at 2:38 pm

Jesus David what a perfectly sensible/sensibly perfect list! I would like to communicate that the illusion of prestige is everywhere, beckoning people with an empty promise of elevated status. Once basic needs are met, everything else is a distraction. And that is fine, but just know what it is that you are sacrificing your time and energy for, above and beyond shelter and a full belly. I still battle with this. Ps carry two baskets instead of pushing a cart, you can get some serious farmers walks happening AND not be a cart zombie, win win!

David Cain May 5, 2023 at 3:08 pm

Two baskets! I never thought of that. When I’m using a basket it’s often so heavy I end up doing alternating-side farmer’s walks. Plays into #3

Katie May 5, 2023 at 3:19 pm

Oh David. I just love your blog. I’ve been following for many years…maybe close to 15? You always have such great insight and offer it cleverly. Thank you for being you. I loved this whole list, but especially the “short-lived” soapbox. Ha!

If I could convey one message to our entire human cohort it would be this: Kindness is the answer to everything. Kindness to the self fundamentally, for without this you are not truly capable of showing kindness to all other people, sentient beings, things, objects. If we could all act/speak/think through kindness at all times, I believe the world could be healed instantaneously.

Karen May 5, 2023 at 4:05 pm

100% agreed :)

Tara May 5, 2023 at 3:33 pm

I love #10. Very true.

My contribution is:

Your opinions are not facts and you are not alone in the world. Have an open mind, be conscious and courteous of others.

Karen May 5, 2023 at 4:05 pm

well said!

Jim May 5, 2023 at 4:46 pm

My favorite is “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” So many people spend so much time searching for the perfect while ignoring the absolutely fabulously good they have right in front of them. In mates. In friends. In jobs. In the food and beverages that are served to us, In buying things to replace other things because the things we have may be good, but we keep getting promised “perfect” in the ads.
I personally think attitude of always seeking for something better than what we have comes from a world of surplus (for some), and like picky eating, is not a long-term survival skill.
And I am not just talking about accepting “good enough.” When I talk about recognizing the real truth behind “The perfect is the enemy of the good,” I mean (1) “good” means GOOD! Enjoy what you have in front of you! (2) You are constantly being played to believe that you need something else, some “perfect” thing, to be happy. This makes other people money, and you sad, because we continue to ignore the good that is again, right around us.

Victoria May 5, 2023 at 5:57 pm

Great stuff.
I can’t get past #8, it’s all “superstitious garbage” to me. But I LOVE the others!

Patty May 5, 2023 at 6:31 pm

About “-lived”: YESSS!! Thank you! Also on the subject of pronunciation: “err” is pronounced not “air” but “urr.” But nobody knows this and they will think you’re weird if you say it that way.

David Cain May 7, 2023 at 11:27 am

Never heard that one but will look into it

beck June 5, 2023 at 7:17 pm

I mean, wouldn’t that depend on how you pronounce “error”? There are plenty of people who pronounce the first syllable of “error” as “air.” It’s just a different accent.

Torpor May 5, 2023 at 7:52 pm

The overall statement in #4 may be true, but I believe there is research that shows that most traffic jams are, indeed, caused by bad driving. It is also true of over 99% of traffic collisions are due to human error. There are 10’s of thousands of preventable deaths that occur every year due to incompetence behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Not everyone is a bad driver, so it’s not difficult to imagine a world where bad drivers aren’t allowed to drive and 10’s of thousands of lives can continue to be lived.

I also have issues with #8, but agree with the rest of the list.

David Cain May 7, 2023 at 11:30 am

Bad driving is definitely a real thing, yes. The point isn’t about traffic jams but the reflex to immediately attribute problems to human incompetence.

Scott May 5, 2023 at 8:43 pm

#11: “Every list is a bucket list, so just call it a list.” Everything you want to do, you want to do before you die. Just say “10 things I want to communicate to the human species.” Full stop. Unless you have a list of things you want to do after you die, in which case please carry on.

David Cain May 7, 2023 at 11:38 am

Not that I like to overthink headlines, but the point of framing it as things to communicate before one dies is to emphasize the idea that the world can be wrong about a thing until a mortal comes along and alters the prevailing belief. It’s tongue in cheek.

Tom May 5, 2023 at 9:30 pm

While we’re talking about shopping carts, take the 30 seconds to put it back after you unload it. I hate to judge a person from one act, but this one is a clear indicator of a baseline decent human being.

Chris May 7, 2023 at 7:24 pm

I always teach my kids that when given a choice between doing what’s easy and doing what’s right, choose right. Putting your shopping trolley away properly when you’re finished with it is a classic example, but there are many others… coming to a complete stop at a STOP sign, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, putting your rubbish in a bin instead of letting the wind take it. There are thousands of examples, and most people don’t give it a second thought — they mindlessly choose to do what’s easy and in most cases, it makes the world a worse place.

Ecoteri May 5, 2023 at 11:35 pm

YES to the exercise being the magic bullet. I was very active in my teens and twenties, less so for the next three decades, and began to move more consciously again about 3 years ago. 4 months ago I started planning and training for a trip with my sister that was going to be ACTIVE – lots of walking and some minor hill climbing, as well as scrambling into and out of boats and other conveyances. I started walking with a weight vest and then hired a trainer to get me lifting weights. What a difference both those made for my endurance and strength and agility on my trip. Now that I am home again, I am taking these fulfilling NSVs (non scale victories) and using them to fuel my enthusiasm for more intense weightlifting. Got a girlfriend to sign up, too, and we gleefully share our successes. My mom is a going concern at 93 and since I plan to live that long I need to put some seriously committed effort into ensuring my body is given all the tools it needs to be as fit as possible for as long as possible.

Anna May 6, 2023 at 1:11 am

That is so weird… For about a week now small observations I’ve made from stuff that happen in my life have been popping into my head as I drive around and yesterday I said to myself that I should write down one on each page of a book for my kids to find one day after I die. An example on my list is..

I stole a sweetie from a box of sweeties from one of my old people I look after. Now I have to use an enormous amount of energy to not do it again because it has opened a little gate somewhere in my head that was fermly locked before this incident. The next time I took a biscuit and I drank a bit of cocacola( I work all morning and get starving by 13h30 when I finish. ) now I’m having to reaffirm why it is absolutely not good for my head to do this. I now cannot say with honesty that I am an honest person. I cannot trust myself and my capacity to control myself.
I’m trying to find solutions like bringing a packet of biscuits in my bag for such situations and also reminding myself that it is actually illegal to steal a sweet or biscuit and reaffirm my rule that I will not lie, exagerate or break the law
I don’t have time to write up the other observations here but will get onto writing up my list in my book.

My latest obsession is Jordan Peterson. A lightbulb went off in my head when he talked about how inmportant it is to have left and right. My mum has always been extremely anti left all my life and all my best friends were and are left so it didn’t sit right with me but after he explained it I’ve found peace with it. You need arguments in order to either strengthen your belief or learn and change.

From listening to him I now realise that ideas and ideologies had just filtered in to my head as being a fact but now I’m not so sure. I just took it as q fact that we live in a patriarcale tyrannical society where women are down trodden but now I’m starting to see evidence to the contrary and how I look at men and women has completely changed… Now I look at men in the street and I’m so grateful that they are doing so much of these hard and dangerous jobs and climbing to the top where it is pretty cutthroat where most)( not all women ) wouldn’t want to be. I look at myself and other women and think how incredible it is that we can have babies! Before I was thinking that the only thing that really had worth was getting a really good job. I see we actually have right now equality of opportunities in my country and I feel very lucky.

David Cain May 7, 2023 at 11:52 am

I have been a liberal all my life and still am, but I’ve become disillusioned with the prevailing liberal narratives. They’re too cartoonish and stereotype-driven.

I believe this is a result of one worldview becoming too dominant in media and policy. It means one side never hears intelligent challenges to their beliefs. They only ever see caricatures of dissenting opinions. The dialectical process is broken. Dissent helps to sharpen and improve a person’s positions, but dissenters are immediately called fascists and nazis so open dissent is rare except among people willing to be called those things. You need both sides, even if you are partial to one side.

DG May 7, 2023 at 6:43 pm

Agreed! I too am disillusioned. But I’m not sure the reason you give is accurate. I remember reading somewhere that with the decline of religion, people are finding new ways to become righteous, or virtuous. And the fervent belief in one set of world views appears to be one way people are obtaining this.

Andy May 6, 2023 at 2:24 am

Cool comment, sounds like you are exploring your morality and innermost decision-making, and that is courageous, good for you

Anna May 6, 2023 at 11:14 am

Aww thanks Andy. I love experimenting and being like a scientist with my beliefs and thoughts. I love finding out I’ve been wrong about something and I love saying ‘ I just don’t know.’ I find it so exciting and liberating.

Dimitris May 6, 2023 at 5:02 am

#11. You don’t have to finish reading a book before you pick up another one. The only way to read more (if that’s what you want) is to engage with as many books as possible according to your curiosity and your mood.

PS: It’s funny how many people commented about the shopping cart!

Alice May 6, 2023 at 10:04 am

The cart thing got comments because that one is purely an opinion, not a universal truth, and a divisive opinion, seeming to say that people who walk away from their carts in the store are superior to those who, for any number of reasons, keep their cart with them, whereas those in the latter group could easily complain about people who leave their carts unattended.

David Cain May 7, 2023 at 11:53 am

I probably shouldn’t have put that one first. It was based on a comedic rant I performed to a friend after a trip to the supermarket, but I don’t think it translated.

Anna May 10, 2023 at 1:27 am

I remember when I came to France and I stayed with a lady that had spent a lot of time in Thailand. The first night I got there she picked up her bowl of soupe in her two hands and drank it and I was really shocked! It had never even entered my head that I could drink my soupe without a spoon. Now I do the same because it is actually much more practical. I don’t slurp or spill my soup off the spoon or have to lean over the bowl. This and your trolley advice reminds me to not machinable do things and keep doing them as I always have. Often there is another way if we are open to questioning. The same thing happens with thoughts that filter in that we just automatically take for common truth. I’m not do sure any more if you catch cold from going out without your coat on…. Wim Hof actually proves that it can be good for you.

Krasna May 6, 2023 at 9:56 am

Corollary to #9: There is no single “right” answer to any important question.
Our belief that there is, is buried so deeply we don’t even notice it.

Most of the most horrible things in the world come about because we think there IS only one right answer–and if only we could agree about what it is, there would be peace and plenty. So we fight endlessly to convince others “our” answer is the right one, or to force others to act as if it is. But it’s only our own belief, our own story, true for ourself, however much it feels like truth for others. It’s not; it never was.

Letting go of the fighting, forcing, and opinions about what’s right for anyone else? That’s what would allow peace and plenty to emerge.

David Cain May 7, 2023 at 11:56 am

To moral questions, no probably not. It is difficult for us to entertain multiple moral conclusions to the same question, but we are capable of it.

it seems like the more intense the moral argument, the more identified people are with the “side” and the less interest there is in their respective explanations. Often there are no explanations at all.

Réjean Lévesque May 6, 2023 at 10:40 am

About #8: Even though it may be true that the great religions were founded by wise and insightful people, these religions have been taken over by others who have used them to control people and their morals. Furthermore, they have put their followers in opposition to other religions, thus inciting them to violence. They have infiltrated governing bodies and have used their power to extract favors and money from their followers.

David Cain May 7, 2023 at 12:00 pm

Yes, people have done that, but it is not the entire story of religion. The idea that religion is so corrupt now as to be useless is a myth. I used to believe that. People still use religion to become better people, and this case is far more common than people using it to facilitate evil. Just less newsworthy.

Remember that these religions are all approaches to contending with the human condition — a part of which is our tendency towards corruption. Every religion I’m familiar with warns against the tendency for humans to fall into corruption _even around religious practice itself_.

Kathy May 8, 2023 at 8:37 am

I find clarification by distinguishing between Religions as institutions (“tendency towards corruption” fomented by/feeding off the power they gain) vs. religions as set of Beliefs and Traditions that communicate spiritual ideas, translating concepts bigger than our individual selves into daily practice.

Michele May 6, 2023 at 5:53 pm

A couple of things come to mind for what I wish everyone would hurry up and learn. Actually they’re related, both based on respect.

1. Children are people too and deserve at least as much respect as anyone else. They are new to the world, just learning how it works, and everyone learns better when they are treated kindly.

2. Another person’s lifestyle or identity does not hurt you. And not understanding someone else isn’t an excuse for not respecting them.

robyn quaintance May 6, 2023 at 9:28 pm

#6 – Totally disagree as this is a case of an irregular verb. Therefore, life becomes lived in the past tense rather than lifed (this would be a regular verb).

David Cain May 7, 2023 at 12:15 pm

Can you clarify: what is the irregular verb here? Do you mean “To life”? (Analagous to “to hair” in curly-haired, or “to plate” in the case of gold-plated)

I don’t see why “verbing the noun” would result in pronouncing it with a short i when we have analogous cases with “knived” and “wived.” Clearly people usually pronounce it with the long i because the only other place they see “lived” is as a past tense of “to live.”

Amanda May 7, 2023 at 10:52 am

What I’d LOVE to convince our species

Get behind the things you do and actions you take without complaining, guilt-tripping, or requiring compliments afterward. This is a mindful practice that overtime pays off in the form of less irritation, anger, bitterness, and resentment. It’s also very empowering to do things because you want to and not because you have to. When the bad outweighs the good in a proposed action, just say no respectfully and move on.

Judd May 8, 2023 at 2:29 pm

The main issue with number 8 is that the world’s religions do indeed make many factual claims. Claims that are testable. When tested, they are found to be false. Either there was a virgin birth or there wasn’t. Either a guy walked on water or he didn’t. Promoting these claims as true is insulting to my intelligence.

It’s not like you can just look at the philosophy and the ethical advice as somehow separate and apart from the factual claims.Thomas Jefferson made this obvious – he created an edited bible with the obviously false factual claims removed, leaving only the philosophy. But let’s not pretend that most believers today are like Jefferson. The vast, vast majority of religious believers I know look at the factual claims and the philosophy as one package. It’s a package that must be rejected.

David Cain May 8, 2023 at 4:07 pm

I think this is a very post-enlightenment, rational way to interpret these iron age religions. Another way is to interpret them is as stories about life that have lessons for human beings. The value of the stories and practices do not depend on the literal truth of the stories. Historically, people have interpreted them on many levels, some believing the stories were 100% factually true, 100% metaphorical, or something in between.

There are different levels of abstraction on which to understand a story — the chapter on Cain and Abel could be interpreted as a historical account stating hard facts about two people (Did Cain kill Abel? Do we have evidence of that? Did they even exist?) or as a timeless fable about two different attitudes toward life. These stories are instructive regardless of the level on which you believe in them, which is part of why they became so popular. Fixating on the literal truth status of declarative sentences in scripture is missing the point, imo.

Edith May 11, 2023 at 11:50 pm

Religion is a wonderful tool similar to philosophy. but compared to philosophy it has many more advantages, because it provides you with a timetable for coming out of your house to meet with others, immerse yourself in music or chants or meditation and somehow it gives you a space and time to think about other things beyond the mundane practicalities of life, sort of an offering to your own transcendence. Philosophy doesn’t have all these packaged and ready to use once a week. So, yes it often gets misused or misunderstood but, what doesn’t?

Bradley Thomas Herman May 11, 2023 at 1:36 pm

Some to add off the top of my head:

1. put out good energy and you’ll get it back
2. the gate agent or customer service guy or whatever is not the cause of your problem. treat them with dignity and you’ll actually get a much better result.
3. the left lane is for PASSING
4. similarly, when walking on a sidewalk, stick to the right
5. related, if you’re walking with a group and taking up the entire sidewalk, it’s your responsibility to move/reorganize when someone is approaching, not theirs to avoid your group
6. standing up and in the aisle at the end of a flight is annoying and inconveniences everyone around you… wait the extra 2 minutes until it’s your rows turn
7. when you’re in line to order food/drinks, you should have some sort of idea what you want and be prepared to pay for it… people who wait in line for 10 minutes and then get to the front only to then ask what they have, or suddenly realize they need to find their card or id, as if they had no clue they’d be ordering food drive me insane

I have more, but those are some that came to me immediately

Edith May 11, 2023 at 11:38 pm

I want humans to know that the most important knowledge we need right now is political. We have stagnated there and nothing will improve, hell, we can even go extinct, unless we adopt a few much needed principles. I’d suggest three: professional public servants, like they have in France; separation of political and economic power, where politicians are public servants all of their life, receive all their income from that work plus free housing and basics for life, but can never go back to work or receive anything from private companies; and three, caps on wealth and redistribution through taxing appropriately inheritance, speculative investment and others.

Edith May 11, 2023 at 11:59 pm

this is only a gross generalization, I must add. I plan on writing a book someday. for instance, we saw the best face of capitalism when it felt threatened by socialism competition is good. so rescuing the biblical idea of an economic reset every fifty years, possibly we could program a socio economic system vote every 50 years for a real democracy that keeps the current beneficiaries of the system on their toes.

Giovanni Tertulli May 13, 2023 at 9:59 am

Here’s what I’d love my loved ones to consider:

– use barefoot shoes. Throw away your “conventional” sneakers, a constriction box for your feet. Allow your feet to regain their space and use their muscles and mobility. Your legs, Knees and back will thank you when you grow older.

– eating plant based products doesn’t mean eating tofu or meat substitutes. You can have a balance diet, plenty of energy and a healthy body at a very convenient price.

– you have time to read. You just choose not to.

– procrastination is merely a result of a comfortable story you tell yourself to avoid work. The task is hard? Well, you can postpone it a few more minutes (days, months). Change the story: you’re committed to work because you have a PURPOSE in life. Once that purpose is back on top of your mind, procrastination is defeated.

Carolyn May 26, 2023 at 9:57 pm

You are quite lucky that you’ve never had your grocery cart accidentally hijacked! It has happened to me several times, so nope, no way, I now always keep mine close by.

Connie June 10, 2023 at 6:59 am

What I want the world to know:
(1) “Only connect” does not mean “Call your mom,” or “Reach out today to an old friend.” It is NOT a subtitle for Facebook. If you want to know what it means, read Howards End (E.M. Forster).

(2) There is NO NEED for a hyphen after adverbs that end in “-ly” (highly regarded, dimly perceived, chronically late).

Steve Griffin June 10, 2023 at 6:21 pm

I was referred to this blog by swiss-miss.com and I bookmarked it on minutes. Heartening to see all the support for #7.

David Cain June 12, 2023 at 8:39 am

Welcome Steve

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