People Share What Felt Like Useless Advice Until They Tried It Themselves
Life is a constant learning experience. No one has it all figured out. From childhood to adulthood, we are constantly navigating life through a series of trial-and-error. It’s not always easy. Some lessons we must learn the hard way, but the important thing is that we learn them. Our experiences breed new opportunities and each day is a different adventure.
Although no one knows exactly what they’re doing most of the time, it doesn’t seem to stop most people from offering their advice and opinions on how to handle certain situations. Hearing someone give you advice on a matter is one thing. Actually listening to and taking the advice is another. When other people insert their thoughts or beliefs on something it’s often easy to dismiss it.
But, every now and then, listening to the guidance of other people ends up being in our best interests. Just take it from these people who recently shared what felt like useless advice until they tried it themselves:
#1 Getting It (Half) Done
“Once begun is half done.” I am a terrible procrastinator by nature. I like making things seem like so much work that I can’t possibly do them unless I take time off of work. In reality, if you just start a project without thinking about it, you can get everything done if you just set aside like fifteen minutes a day. It’s never really that bad.
#2 This, Too
“This too shall pass.” On those days when I just feel like I can’t take it, I think of that, and I know tomorrow will be different. Someone once told me: “Tomorrow may not be better, but at least it’ll be different.” In a strange way, that too is comforting. Everything is temporary, pain included. It’s important to keep that in the back of your mind.
#3 Cheap Tools
My grandfather told me this and I never understood it until I had my own place: “Always buy the cheap tools at first and if you wear them out, then you use it enough to justify getting a nicer, more expensive set.” A cheap set will actually work the same way as an expensive set, and they’ll still last you a pretty long time.
#4 Shoulders Back
“Always keep your shoulders back.” It was a suggestion I saw for preventing anxiety. I don’t know what it is, but when your shoulders are in that position, it gives some strange feeling of control. I also read somewhere that during panic attacks, the body basically wants to curl into a fetal position for protection, so maybe focusing on keeping your arms down and your shoulders back is a conscious way to go against that and stay grounded in reality. Works for me and it could work for you too.
#5 Tree Alive
There’s an app that grows virtual trees for two hours. During that time, you can’t access any apps you that you think will distract you. If you want to open a distracting app, you’d have to kill your tree. All your trees, dead or alive, appear in a little forest. I’ve always had trouble motivating myself to focus on homework and not look at Reddit or YouTube, but this app is just enough guilt to not fall into those traps.
I haven’t killed anything yet and I’m surprised at how much I can care about some small virtual trees. People told me about it and I just completely assumed that I’d never use it or that it wouldn’t work for me considering how distractible I am, but it really does work wonders. If you ever grew up playing with Tamagotchis, then you’d understand.
#6 Ask Anyway
My dad always told me: “Ask anyway, the worst they can say is no.” He said that advice especially applies to situations when I am buying something or when I need something from another person. The advice has helped me with school, with raises, with my friends, and with people in general. It’s an important lesson in accepting rejection.
#7 Cold Water
Putting cold water on freshly shaved skin will prevent you from getting ingrown hairs. As I grew older, I found that ingrown hairs started to become a problem for me. I never knew how to stop them from sprouting, until I watched some random YouTube video. I was skeptical at first, but once I tried it, it actually worked. Some of the best advice I’ve ever received.
#8 Fearing Future Pain
Don’t fret about things that haven’t happened yet. In other words, worrying about all the stuff that could happen will stop you from doing things that may be good for you. Even worse, it can turn theoretical pain into actual pain. Sometimes, it really is just all in the mind. The more you can hone in on your mental strength, the more you can fight your anxieties head-on.
#9 An Exercise In Emotions
Exercising helps with depression and anxiety. It’s not a cure-all, but it really does help me. I’ve been off my meds now for over a year (under my doctor’s supervision) and when I can’t exercise for a few days, I can feel the depression and anxiety coming back. Now, instead of going through a million things I did wrong in my head, I just run for three miles or lift some heavy stuff.
#10 Fist To Fans
The fans on my old MacBook died. I saw a YouTube video that instructed to simply take a fist and bang it on the part of the computer that housed the fans. Thinking it was a troll, I gave it a shot out of pure frustration, and lo and behold, they purred back to life. I never had another issue with them for the rest of the time that I owned that computer.
#11 Needle Distraction
As someone with a phobia of needles, I finally had a nurse tell me to ask for a spare disinfectant pad and sniff it right as I’m about to get jabbed. She said the harsh smell is enough of a distraction to keep my mind off the needle. I was there for a flu shot, so I got to try it out right away. I wasn’t expecting much, but it worked! I’ve been doing it ever since, and have no trouble with shots or blood draws now, which is huge considering I’ve had several fainting episodes before.
#12 Bribe Yourself
Bribe yourself with fun things to do the not-so-fun things. Today, I was tired after work but got a little care package in the mail, so I made myself go on the three-mile run that I didn’t want to do before the package arrived. Now, I’m refreshed and happy that I did the one thing I was pseudo dreading. Plus, I have a care package to open as a reward.
#13 Smart Sleep Schedules
Stick to the same sleep schedule on your days off so you can follow it on days when you have to be somewhere at a specific time. I spent my whole life sleeping until noon on weekends, thinking I was storing sleep in some imaginary sleep bank. I recently started waking up early on weekends, and now I don’t have trouble waking up when my alarm goes off during the week. Plus, I have all this extra time to do stuff because I’m not sleeping all day.
#14 Just Thirsty
You’re not hungry, you’re thirsty! I’d always eat a big meal and wonder why I still felt hungry… I know now that it’s because I wasn’t drinking a glass of water with my meal. Now, if I notice I am hungry after eating normal portions, I have a glass of water and wait five minutes before I continue eating. It usually does the trick.
#15 Slow Down
It’s better to lose a second of your life than to lose your life in a second. People on the road need to just slow down a little. Always practice defensive driving over aggressive driving. Also, wear a seatbelt and don’t do anything stupid like drink and drive It’ll save your life and other people’s lives too.
#16 Take I-90
“Never take I-90 through Chicago,” my sister said to me in 2002. “Yeah, okay, thanks,” was my reply. In 2004, just over the border of Wisconsin, we stopped for gas. We were on the third day of our drive back from Yellowstone and we had been on the road for almost two weeks in total. Funds were low, and there was nothing left for another hotel that night.
It was 11 a.m., and based on the GPS calculations, we would be home at about 1 a.m. We looked at the map, saw the upcoming highway split and were debating between heading straight for I-80, or staying on I-90. “Well, the last sign said 90 minutes to Chicago, we might as well have a deep dish pizza for lunch. Plus, it looks like a more direct route.”
Mistakes were made. At 3 p.m. we had admitted defeat. There would be no lunch. The infinite traffic wouldn’t allow for it. By 4 p.m., my will was broken. I pulled the e-brake, opened my door, and walked from the middle lane to the ditch just after a bridge to relieve the pressure in my bladder. Shortly after, we said, “Screw this, let’s just get off here.” That too was a mistake.
The signs were in Spanish, the route back to the highway eluded us, and we weren’t even sure what time zone we were in. We asked a guy at the corner of a random street: “Hey man, what time is it?” I’ll never forget his response: “Your mother.” At 6:30 p.m., we finally drove past what is now Guaranteed Rate Park, fully immersed in Chicago rush hour.
An hour later, we crossed into Indiana. We had an utterly forgettable pizza, got back on the road, and endured a drive home that lasted well past dawn. “I told you to never take I-90 through Chicago,” my sister said to me when I told her our tale of that day. She was right, I should have remembered that. Silly, silly me. Sisters always know best.
#17 Outsmarting Insomnia
I suffered severe insomnia for years. Someone told me I should get up an hour earlier, go for a 30-minute run in the morning, then do yoga for 15 minutes before showering and getting ready for work. It seemed ridiculous, but I decided to try it for a month. I haven’t suffered insomnia since. I have way more energy, I sleep better, and I feel better. It’s amazing.
#18 Co-Worker Correspondence
When you’re texting or emailing between colleagues, don’t put anything you wouldn’t say to their face in writing. If you have it in writing, they’ve got something they can hold against you. Even if the door is closed, speak quietly if you’re going to vent. Your coworkers can probably hear you clear down the hallway if you’re yelling after-hours. Take it down to a whisper.
Include your admin on every email whenever you ask a professional question to anybody else or if you engage in a conversation in which the slightest bit of conflict could arise. If you don’t trust one of your coworkers, don’t say a word to them beyond basic greetings. Trust your gut. Sit quietly in the lounge at lunch. If you think something is wrong, speak up. You probably aren’t the only one to notice and your voice does make a difference.
#19 Clean While Cooking
Clean as you go. Do the dishes right after you cook, and spend 10 minutes every day walking through the house just to pick things up and organizing. Don’t let things pile up, or wait to do all of your cleaning in one day. It’ll feel like less of a burden and you’ll free up a bunch of time without changing much about your daily routine.
#20 Help Yourself
Put on your own oxygen mask first. You can’t help anyone effectively if you’re not okay yourself. I was always self-sacrificing, to the point of being hospitalized for exhaustion. I’d always been told to give until it hurts and then just push through the pain to give more, so that’s what feels natural. Anything else just seems like pure selfishness. A great therapist told me that I’m good at helping, but I have to be at least at a baseline before I’m effective. Makes total sense.
#21 Start Writing
If you want to write a novel, just start writing. Don’t plan, and definitely don’t think about it too much. Just get words on paper. All of the edits, revisions, and fine-tuning can come later. Most of the time, your best ideas are developed on the spot, when your mind is not bombarded by multiple thoughts and possibilities at once.
#22 Careful With Chores
On my wedding day, my grandmother said to me: “Never do anything around the house that you don’t plan on doing for life.” At the time, I thought it was terrible advice. Then one time, when I was mowing the lawn at seven-and-a-half months pregnant, I understood what she meant. She was always a smart woman, my grandmother.
#23 One Small Thing
If you have body image issues, find one thing you like about yourself. My starting point was a freckle in the middle of my left hand. Whenever you’re feeling bad about yourself, remember you like that ONE thing. Find a new small thing to like every once and a while, if you can. It becomes easier to love yourself amidst your flaws, in my experience. Thanks for that advice, mom.
#24 Park Far Away
Trying to lose weight? When going somewhere in your car, try and park as far from your destination as you can, when you can. I read this tip somewhere when I was at my heaviest. Every morning, instead of taking the first spot available at work, I’d take the farthest one back. I had to trek a bit to just get to the door, then through the office and upstairs to my cube. It felt good whenever I did it, and it put me in this mode where I wanted to do other healthier things throughout the day. I went from 385 lbs to 220 lbs in about a year and a half after I started adapting those baby steps (among many other baby steps, of course!)
#25 To-Do List
When you’re stressed, make a to-do list. I was always like, “I KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO GET DONE, I JUST CAN’T DO IT ALL!” But if you write it down, it doesn’t have to all live in your brain and you can really focus on getting one thing done at a time. Slow and steady will always be better than rushing things in one go.
#20 Dressing Up When Depressed
Get dressed up whenever you feel crappy about yourself. You don’t even have to go anywhere. It’s an easy way to practice some self-care. When my depression is bad, I will just sit around the house with a full face of makeup on and a fancy house dress. Ever since I took the time to do it, I feel like I did something just for me and it feels like a huge victory.
#27 Choose Your Reaction
Choose your reaction. It’s advice from the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. What it boils down to is, nobody can actually anger you. You have to react angrily to the situation. It doesn’t always work because things like a death in the family are going to make you sad or whatever. But it has helped me at work—I realize that no matter how stupid the person I am dealing with is, or how nasty they are being, I can choose to not go to that level. I can choose to stay factual and deal in logic.
#28 Solving While Sleeping
Ask your brain to work on a hard problem while you sleep. Over several years as a programmer, this has had an amazing success rate for me. When faced with the nastiest, most confounding problems, I have always gone back to this technique and it has never let me down. I spend a few minutes before falling asleep, relaxing and focusing on the problem, and reviewing whatever facts I know for sure. Inevitably, in the morning, I’ll wake up with an epiphany that helps me resolve the problem first thing when I get to work.
#29 Not For Everyone
Accept that you aren’t for everyone, just like everyone isn’t for you. I spent a long time constantly worrying about what people thought of me; if they secretly hated me or were talking ill about me to others, etc. Then, one day, I just realized it doesn’t matter. Knowing about it won’t change anything. I don’t like everyone myself, so why should I expect everyone to like me? That mentality made me more confident in myself.
#30 Dance Like A Pineapple
When my first was born, my aunt told me, “If you don’t know what to do, if they won’t stop crying, if you’re falling apart, if you’re losing your sanity, dance like a pineapple.” It made ZERO sense until he was about four to five months old—I had a broken arm, he had gastroenteritis, and neither of us had slept much so he wouldn’t stop crying… My aunt’s words sang in my head like some darn epiphany… And it worked!
#31 Three Problems
My grandfather gave me a piece of worldly wisdom when I was 13 years old or so. He said it in a joking way, but as I’ve gotten older, it rings true. He said, “Son, three things will give a man problems in his life: money, women, and whiskey. If you don’t have a problem with one of those things, then you don’t have a problem.” I wish that ornery old guy was still around.
#32 The Expense Of Stress
Stress costs money. If you have a stressful job, for example, you will spend more money on mental health care, shopping, massages, junk food, whatever you need to relieve your stress. It’s worth it to switch jobs even if you make less money because it will likely balance out. I didn’t think this made any sense until I left a bad relationship and found that it was suddenly a lot easier to manage my budget.
In reverse, I also left a good job for a stressful one and found that even though I was making the same salary, it was a lot harder to manage. Now, I constantly evaluate the cost of stress in my life and what I can do with my money to try to avoid stress because the benefits will compound. Always choose happiness over money!
#33 Finished With Facebook
Deleting Facebook. Actually, I don’t miss it or feel the need to be connected to everyone anymore. I spend more time with my family and I don’t feel the pressure to be perfect. I also don’t have to deal with all the military drama. I am part of a military family and Facebook, from what I remember, is littered with toxic military communities.
#34 Never Underestimate Networking
Everyone told me about the importance of networking when looking for a job when I was younger and it felt useless. When I thought of networking, I thought about schmoozing people at a wine and cheese event and it just wasn’t me. Turns out, networking can be as simple as building and maintaining relationships as you get older. It’s been extremely important in my career development. Nowadays, won’t even consider applying for a job if I don’t have some sort of connection through my network.
#35 Why Am I Talking
WAIT. Why Am I talking? When someone comes up to you with a problem or wants to get something off their chest, it can be a normal reaction to just start saying stuff like, “Oh, I’ve been through that. What happened to ME was…” Are you LISTENING or just WAITING for your turn to speak? It’s so important to assess the severity of a situation and be mindful of your words. You’d be surprised at how often they’ll solve their own problem. Plus, you’ll gain respect for being available and actively listening.
#36 Spend It On Experiences
If you get money as a present or a bonus, spend it on an experience, not material goods or consumables. You will make memories that can last your entire life. I was given this advice on my birthday from my family. I ended up going on a trip, and the number of fond memories and wonderful people I met while I was away is something that will never leave me.
#37 Bite The Head Off Of The Frog
“Bite the head off of the frog.” My boss would say this ALL the time, so much so that I say it all of the time now. It means to do that which you don’t WANT to do but HAVE to do immediately. The early grind makes the rest of your time, YOUR time. I routinely do everything I hate first thing every morning: I work out at 4 a.m., get to work do all my reporting and communications, knock out my high-priority projects… It gives me the rest of the day to slack off.
#38 Tap The Can
Before you open a can of soda, tap the top of the can a few times beforehand so that it doesn’t spill at all when you open it. Seriously, no matter how much you shake it, you just gotta tap and it won’t explode at all. This will come in handy if you’re clumsy or love wearing white outfits. Trust me, getting soda on a white outfit is the worst thing that could ever happen.
#39 Date Yourself
If you’re single, “date yourself.” I always perceived this as a way to selfishly indulge, until I realized that what it means is I should be treating myself the way I would treat the person I’m dating. So, yes this does somewhat mean indulge yourself a bit, as in, go to a movie you want to, or go out to a nice dinner once in a while. But also, it means to treat yourself much nicer than you usually do.
Forgive yourself for mistakes and learn from them. Be patient with yourself. Think about the stuff you do, and if it’s something that you’d give someone else a break for, then give yourself a break for it. Also, think about things you’d be hesitant to do, like learn to dance or go for a trip somewhere. Then, do those things. Invest time in yourself and you will begin to attract people who see you doing so.
#40 The Pay Off
My father bought me my first car and told me it was not a present, but a loan. He expected to owe him back every single cent he lent me to buy that car. I was 17 at the time and he was as strict as strict could be with the on-time payments of the car. If I missed any, he would threaten to take the car off of me for periodic intervals. I used to resent the entire deal.
Fast forward roughly 20 years later and the advice he told me helped me pay off my home loan by the age of 40. I was also able to set myself up for early retirement. I never did miss a payment with the car or the home loan. My father is no longer with us, but it still makes me smile the way he guided me with financial advice without me ever realizing at the time what he was doing.
#41 Question For The Bully
When I was a kid, I was getting bullied by an older kid on the playground. The teacher asked me, “Well, have you asked him to stop?” I thought it was the most asinine thing I’d heard in my six long years on the planet. But, in a move I still use today when talking to tech support, I went ahead and did the thing they asked even though I knew it wouldn’t work, just so we could move on to the next step quicker.
So I saw him one day while playing tetherball with his friends, and I walked down to him. In front of the other kids in his grade, I asked him: “Hey, can you stop chasing me and my friend? We don’t like that.” He shrugged and said “okay.” He never picked on us again. No more wrist locks, no more having dirt thrown at us, no more being chased around the playground.
#42 Clean Big Items First
When cleaning, take care of the biggest items first. I didn’t realize how it would make the tasks go faster, but it’s merely to make the mess seem less daunting… Put away the biggest three items, and the room already looks 90% finished.
#43 Double Knot It
Tie your shoes properly. If you have to tie your shoes more than once a day, you’re doing it wrong. It has to do with the way you tie your first knot. You can tell that you did it right if the bow, when you’re done, is horizontal, not vertical. I’ve been doing it wrong for 30 years and when someone pointed it out to me, I just brushed it off and said something like, “I just double knot it.”
#44 Eating In Moderation
My dad always says this about eating in moderation: “If you eat only small amounts of something in one sitting, you’ll be able to eat it for longer in your life.” Such good advice, which I follow every time I am offered anything sweat, salty or fried.
#45 Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Don’t worry about things you have no control over. Stuff like a delayed train used to cause me a lot of anxiety, but it’s completely pointless.