Advice That May Not Work

Dear Will:

I recently listened to a podcast that featured an interview with Kevin Kelly of Wired magazine, who describes himself as “the most optimistic person in the world.” The podcast is entitled “103 Pieces of Advice That May or May Not Work.” (It’s great. You should listen to it.)

Well, I’m not as wise or as thoughtful (or as optimistic) as Kevin Kelly, but as I was listening it occurred to me that I have lots of advice which meets the standard of “may not work.” I couldn’t come up with 103 things, so I stopped at 31 because it looks almost like the same number, especially if you don’t have on your reading glasses.

What follows is based on my own real-life experiences, many of which were informed by horrible personal choices. I like to think that I have made my mistakes as an act of public service. And for that, you’re welcome. Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Don’t play tennis barefoot. Not ever. Seriously.
  2. Also not recommended: basketball in boxer shorts. Trust me on this.
  3. Even if you think you can fix it yourself, it is always better to call the plumber.
  4. Spend more time with people like Mark.
  5. When in doubt, ask a local . . . even when not in doubt, for that matter.
  6. You will never regret the time you spend reading to your kids.
  7. Take long walks, and while you walk, be quiet and listen to your thoughts.
  8. Eventually you will wish that you had said “yes” more often than “no.”
  9. When offered an unfamiliar dish, it’s best to eat it before asking what it is.
  10. It is not possible to be too grateful.
  11. At some point you’ve got to stop refinancing and pay down the mortgage.
  12. Feel free to be disappointed. But try not to be resentful.
  13. If you’re not sure what to do next, be kind.
  14. Don’t ever use baking soda in place of cornstarch.
  15. Look for opportunities to tell others what you like about them.
  16. When you think you can’t go even one step further, you’re usually underestimating yourself.
  17. From time to time, have breakfast for dinner.
  18. It’s OK to let your schoolwork suffer if you and your roommate are creating something TRULY EPIC.
  19. Spend more effort trying to understand than you do trying to prove that you’re right.
  20. Chances are you cannot fix that vacuum cleaner.
  21. Just because you got away with it, doesn’t mean you’re not stupid.
  22. Sometimes you should just close the laptop and go walk the dog.
  23. If you’re ever going to blow your budget, do it on vacation.
  24. Even if it’s windy and raining, pull out the map.
  25. Stay in touch.
  26. Genuine effort and good intentions are much more important than flawless execution.
  27. Do not, under any circumstances, enroll in Humanities 2B.
  28. If you must judge others, judge as generously as possible.
  29. Say “I love you” more often.
  30. Try to be like Jesus.
  31. Pay attention. God always shows His hand.

One last thing: Don’t take my word for it. I generally don’t know what I’m talking about. But remember what I said about the baking soda.


Photo by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash