Category : LIfe


Four Underappreciated Traits Of Truly Cool People

Tim Denning Cool People

Photo by Sour Moha on Unsplash

The concept of cool needs to be resuscitated.

Images of washboard abs on Instagram or some startup bro bragging about a $100m investment are the poster child for cool. Yuck.

Is there a more normal version of cool? These stories can change your mind. Here are the overlooked traits of truly uber-cool people.

They think bad luck is good luck

I consider myself lucky in this situation.

Jessica is a recruiter and said this. She thinks she is lucky. Let me explain.

Her husband became terminally ill with a rare form of brain cancer known as Glioblastoma. She took care of him for five months. Then he tragically passed away. That left her to deal with her grief and with what she calls “end of life tasks.” So, she took a leave of absence from work.

Her employer let her finish up right away when she told them that her husband’s life was nearly over. They could have made her work the week out. But they didn’t and that ended up being a blessing. Jessica’s husband died two days after she finished work.

Had her employer not have seen the urgency, she would have missed those last two precious days. That’s why she thinks she is lucky.

It unfortunately doesn’t end there.

Back in 2017 Jessica went to a country music concert. She danced the night away. She felt free from the stresses of corporate life. Then a gunman opened fire on the 22,000 people in attendance. 58 people died and 500 people were injured.

Jessica survived the ordeal with only a few scratches, although she suffered survivor’s guilt. How did Jessica explain the experience?

I’m grateful for all the doors that have opened since then…I told myself: I’m living for a reason.

Uber-cool people can take unexpected tragedy and inspire others with it.

They challenge society’s rule’s when it’s logical

Reenie Peppler loved her daughter. She was an angel.

At 13-years-old Rennie had to bury her angel due to cerebral palsy. A person on the internet asked the question “What is the one picture that describes the lowest point in your life?”

Rennie replied to the question with a photo of her daughter, dead, lying in an open casket (see the original post here if you dare). I wasn’t prepared when I saw the photo for the first time. The reactions to the photo became negative.

People believed Rennie had done a very bad thing by posting a photo of a dead teenager on the internet.

The act she committed began in isolation. Until … another mother who lost her child posted a photo of the open casket containing her daughter.

Rennie is uber-cool. She didn’t break any laws. She simply disrupted a societal paradigm about children and caskets, to make people appreciate their kids more, and to hopefully get them to work less at slave-driver jobs so they can spend time with them.

They admit an unfair advantage

Imagine if you could be happy 24/7/365?

Entrepreneur David Rose has been happy every day for 64 years straight. He has the secret to living a happy life. It’s called hyperthymia. David describes the condition as ‘a benefit’ because he has been wired since birth to see the world better than it is due to his condition.

What makes David cool is that he admits he has an unfair advantage. He doesn’t walk around town shaming people for not being as happy as him. He understands that this condition gives him a gift, so he uses it to help others as a mentor and money guru.

Some of us are born with unfair advantages. Admit them. When you do it makes you cool.

They fight for the voiceless

A friend of mine on LinkedIn is uber-cool. He doesn’t republish viral posts, or share huge successes, or talk about never-ending promotions he gets. No.

His posts are bizarre. There’s nothing else like them on LinkedIn. My friend has chosen to stand up for the voiceless. He shares stories about people that society forgets about. He tackles hard topics like “More people question God or the existence of God than they do the honesty or ethics of their government.” A comment like this is sure to leave a bunch of people in pinstripe suits lost for words.

Somehow he finds factions of society that most forget and then shares their debate to bring light to their issues. There’s no right or wrong in the way he writes. The words simply act as a conversation starter that busts any paradigms you had on the topic before you read it.

Social media doesn’t think he’s trendy. These posts don’t rack up millions of views. But he’s the quiet guy in the back of the corner starting intelligent conversations that bring about real change. That’s uber-cool to me.


Turn bad luck into good luck through the lens you view the world through.

Challenge the rules when they’re unfair, and lean into the backlash. Admit any unfair advantages you have to actually be authentic rather than hashtag authentic. And fight for the voiceless. Why? Any of us can become the voiceless. The voiceless are all of us in at least one area of our lives.

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The Question “Are You Vaxxed?” Is Quietly Dividing People

Tim Denning Covid

Photo by Tim Zänkert on Unsplash

To be vaxxed where I live is a status symbol.

I’ve had my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. There’s one more to go so my friends aren’t holding any parties yet. Well, actually, we can’t. I live in Melbourne which has one of the harshest and longest lockdowns since the pandemic started.

As vaccination rates increase I’ve noticed a new trend. We’re dividing each other subconsciously into two groups: vaxxed, and those who refuse to get vaxxed (uneducated).

One of my good friends refuses to get vaccinated. His mother is a nurse and her employer made it mandatory for her to get a jab. With the encouragement of her immature son she refused. She gave up a career as a nurse over misinformation about vaccines.

My friend regularly posts on Instagram about the pandemic. He claims we’re all being fooled, that this isn’t real. He’s gone from gentle self-help quotes to full on conspiracies. He argues that a pill similar to the one Joe Rogan supposedly took is the answer to covid.

Recently he claimed covid is just the flu. It’s no big deal. Days later he got covid because he refused to stay home and wear a mask. His credibility has plummeted. One of his business partners called me the other day.

“What’s up with our mutual friend?”

Me: “His brain has been manipulated by the misinformation. Add in his newfound love of religion, conspiracies, and government bashing, and, well, I suggest you distance yourself.”

The unvaxxed seem to be susceptible more than ever to conspiracies. They listen to celebrity chefs who run health businesses — not hospitals — and the mothers of supermodels when it comes to making a decision about the vaccine.

Your personal source of news has become a big deal. If you choose social media over science then the chance of ending up in the unvaxxed category can increase.

The Great Divide

Plans for Christmas are underway. Some family and friends have chosen to have the vaccine. Some haven’t. Those who haven’t are being reevaluated in my social circles. Do we want to risk getting the contagious delta variant of covid, that we may spread to our elderly relatives? Nope.

Lockdowns haven’t worked in Australia. Record cases in both Sydney and Melbourne continue. Suppression just doesn’t work. The only way to slow down and rebuild from the pandemic is vaccinations. The longer it takes for the unvaxxed to wake up, the longer it takes for the slow return to some kind of normal to occur.

At this stage the unvaxxed are simply being selfish.

It doesn’t end there. Everybody being vaccinated with two jabs isn’t the end. Next comes the era of booster shots.

Governments are already implementing restrictions on the unvaxxed. It’s their choice but their selfishness means they won’t be able to participate in normal society. Restaurants, hairdressers, shopping malls, and international travel will be for the vaxxed.

The unvaxxed risk permanent exclusion. That’s a weird future to imagine.

You’re forced to choose a side

Quiet checking of people’s vaccine status has already begun in my network. Before we consider a post-lockdown coffee we ask the question “did you get vaxxed?” It feels weird to ask the question. On the surface the question is disguised as a moment to brag.

Deep down it’s an investigation.

Even when I get the answer, I go deeper. Anyone who has been vaccinated knows a few small details about what’s involved — where to get it, wait times, questions that get asked beforehand, brands of vaccine.

There are no vaccine passports where I live so trust determines whether you’re about to catch up with an unvaxxed drongo or a normal, functioning member of society who has lived through the pandemic and seeks for the devastation to slow down.

I find it funny in my own circles how those who refuse to listen are the same ones who are skeptical about vaccines and won’t take them. They’re the same people who told me Bitcoin was a scam, even though the cryptocurrency industry is now a $2 trillion+ market backed by the biggest financial institutions in the world. It just doesn’t matter to them.

They’re ignorant. They refuse to have an open mind. They won’t open an article you send them. They can’t see that the unvaccinated are clogging up our hospital system.

It’s all fun and games until you need a hospital.

Last week I tried to get an appointment with a specialist at the ear hospital about my hearing. They told me I’d have to wait six months. No amount of money or health insurance could get me an appointment. Think about that.

This is the very real reality created by the unvaccinated, who act like Batman and end up a Joker in the hospital. I’ve been lucky so far. Nobody close to me has got cancer.

My fiancé hasn’t been so lucky. Both her grandparents got sick (not covid). Their local hospital had no space due to covid so they were forced to stay home. Now, both her remaining grandparents have passed away. International border restrictions meant she couldn’t see them one last time. This is what can happen when hospitals are jammed up with unvaccinated people.

Thanks to everyone who is getting vaccinated

It’s not all bad news. I’m quietly proud of people all around the world doing their bit by getting vaxxed. “We’re all in this together” is the cheesy slogan the unvaxxed have forgotten about.

The unvaxxed are being selfish. Plain and simple.

The world can’t move on from the pandemic unless the unvaxxed *don’t* qualify for access to basic freedoms like restaurants. It’s sad to say but we’ve run out of patience.

Science doesn’t dispute the existence of covid. Governments get zero joy from lockdowns, and it’s not their evil plan. Getting everybody vaxxed once is the first step. The second step is to make booster shots the norm, the way flu shots are in many countries.

When you make plans with other people, whether you realize it or not, you have to choose a side: vaxxed or unvaxxed.

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Pain Is Fuel You Can Use to Grow

Respect by Aretha. Anthony Bourdain. 100 Foot Wave

Photo by Vitaly Otinov on Unsplash

Humans are programmed to avoid pain and gain pleasure. What if pain is the very thing we need to grow beyond the challenges that hold us back?

I go through a lot of different pain. I just never show it — Roddy Ricch

25-Year-Old Washout Jazz Singer

I recently watched the movie “Respect” based on the life of Aretha Franklin. She dealt with the struggle of motherhood from 12-years-old. The movie suggests her first child was the result of a rape. The truth is still unknown.

Singer Ray Charles says Aretha’s religious father ran the equivalent of a “sex circus.” Later in life Aretha got married to an abusive man. They ended up divorced. Then she married another man and divorced him later too. Before her death in 2018 she got engaged once more and then called it off.

Her career didn’t start off with a bang either. She spent years as a jazz singer, signed to a record company, producing music to impress anyone but herself.

Only once Aretha took full creative control did her music start to take off. She chose a white band to play on her songs. The fusion between the two created a new kind of music.

Then in the 70s she recorded an album in a church that became a huge high in her career. She had to overcome the pain, find herself, and then return to her gospel roots to grow into the sort of singer she wanted to be.

Her eyes are incredible, luminous eyes covering inexplicable pain. Her depressions could be as deep as the dark sea.

I don’t pretend to know the sources of her anguish, but anguish surrounds Aretha as surely as the glory of her musical aura — Jerry Wexler

The Drug-Fuelled World of an Odd Chef

A book about cooking in New York back in 2000 became a cult classic. Hard drugs and the culinary world hadn’t been blended together at that point. Many, like my childhood chef friend, use hard drugs to work the long hours required to keep a busy restaurant in business.

Add in a pinch of sex, a lot of racism, and the secrets of the restaurant industry (like what days not to order fish) and you have a recipe for literature chaos. Anthony Bourdain wrote this book called Kitchen Confidential. It’s a tough read that I’m not sure, because of all the racism, would be allowed to be released today.

Anthony’s journey was simple: take hard drugs (like heroin) to work long hours in New York kitchens, write a controversial book about it, and become a tv show host that travels the world and eats odd food.

Anthony found a way to take the pain from his life that he covered up with drugs and turn it into enormous growth. His eventual suicide showed that growth alone isn’t enough.

When rapid growth in life takes you so far from what is considered normal, you seek to trade in growth for an ordinary life.

The Boxing Match With The Ocean

The documentary “100 Foot Wave” depicts big wave surfing. The main character in the film gets an email one day from a lover of big waves. He’s based in Portugal and claims there is one stretch of ocean that has the biggest waves he’d ever seen. The beach doesn’t have those California vibes.

When you look out at the ocean from the sand it looks like a boxing match between two huge loch ness monsters is going down. At the top of the hill is a huge cliff face that could easily rip a human body into two. The wipeouts from each wave blend into each other and seem to never end.

We find out later in the movie that this stretch of ocean has a strange layout. There are deep sections and multiple tectonic plates that all meet each other. The result is, enormous waves that come from multiple directions to create one of the deadliest stretches of ocean anywhere in the world. To have a human anywhere in that water is plain stupid.

Big wave surfer Garrett McNamara decides to travel to Portugal and meet his fellow fan of huge waves. Somehow Garrett manages to ride a few of these waves. One session is caught on camera. It looks as though the wave behind him is as tall as the Empire State Building. The photo scores Garrett a world record and the award for riding the biggest wave of that year. It’s recorded as 70-foot high.

70 isn’t a round number. He wants to ride a 100-foot wave. The pain he goes through to do it is tremendous. Other surfers are encouraged by Garrett to come to Portugal.

Several of them nearly drown.

Riding the wave is the easy bit, thanks to the help of a jet ski. But once the wave ends in a white, foamy, wipeout, the surfer is dragged under the water for several minutes until a jet ski can come and rescue them, assuming the jet ski doesn’t capsize due to the same enormous waves.

Garrett faces several major accidents in a row after his 70-foot wave. His wife and two young kids watch in horror. By this point he’s one of the oldest surfers still competing. The pain of his injuries doesn’t stop him.

He uses that pain to fuel his growth in the sport for many more years. There is a scene towards the end where he gets to tackle the giant waves of the Portugal sea again as a 50-something-year-old. Another close call happens. Somehow he makes it out alive. By this point he no longer fears the ocean or death (this is a bug, not a feature).

Pain takes him a long way towards his goals. This time I can’t help but think pain can fuel your growth although there is a ceiling. There comes a point where the real possibility of death needs to be prioritized over growth.


Pain can help us grow beyond our setbacks. Pain is one of the best motivators there is — it has helped me go far beyond my limitations. What Anthony Bourdain and Garrett McNamara teach us is not to take it too far.

Too much growth can become a disregard for the severity of death and what that does to the ones we love after we die.

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Eight Truths About Life Most People Learn the Hard Way

Self Improvement matters

Photo by Mauro Lima on Unsplash

I’m a dumbo.

You can’t tell me anything. I have to learn the hard way. Only through experience do life lessons truly sink in and become evidence we can reference when a similar situation comes up.

Honestly, I’ve had to learn these truths multiple times. My hope is that you’re not like me. Maybe reading these truths through simple words will help you see their wisdom.

Bad luck can be incredible motivation

I used to curse bad luck. I was superstitious in many ways, stupid in other ways. In my first real job, during the first year, I got made redundant. Talk about bad timing. I should have started in the mortgage team, instead they put me in the insurance team.

I thought I’d been given a gift from the high-priests of finance. On the first day it became clear: everybody in my team whinged and complained … about everything.

“Whyyyy is my coffee so cold? Wahhhh.”

“Why won’t someone buy us new office chairs? Wahhhh.”

All they did was complain. Every new idea the business gave us, they shot it down. “We don’t want to change. What’s wrong with the way things are?” That question right there has killed more dreams than the pandemic.

Pretty soon the business saw my team as a group of lifeless bodies to ship off to retirement. We all got made redundant. As someone who had barely in solid work history, this wasn’t good for me.

But I didn’t get fired. It was done for show. They appreciated my optimism and I was spared. I got to transfer to a new team, although I had to start from scratch. The bad luck of getting a redundancy made me hungrier. That hunger led to many career opportunities and my salary doubled. I progressed through the ranks faster than any other 20-something.

Bad luck can make you think you’re lucky. It can also cause you to give up. You get to decide.

Money is a measurement of time

A millionaire doesn’t have money. A millionaire has time.

We’re taught as we grow up to think of money in terms of what physical things it can buy us: house, car, trip around the world. Then you speak to the dying and everything changes. I had a conversation with a multi-millionaire who is on his deathbed. He doesn’t dream of another Bentley. Nope.

All he wants is more time. His life’s to-do list is still incomplete. There are people he wants to say goodbye to. There are people he wants to forgive. There are people he wants to have lunch with. There are people he wants to reach out to like Warren Buffet.

But he’s run out of time. It’s not realistic for him to jump on a plane in his condition and make any of it happen. So he dies with a garage full of luxury cars and a mind full of regrets.

Start to think of money in terms of time. $100,000 is a luxury car, or it’s two years off work. Get it?

Switching off social media heals the mind

Weird experiment: set up screen recording on your computer or on your phone. Let it run for a few hours. Then play it back.

What happens when you do is you see real-life monkey-mind in action. You should see me on an iMac. Too many tabs open. Alternating between emails and writing. Quick to respond to DMs. Constantly posting content on every single social media platform.

The result? Dopamine levels plummet. Tiredness sets in. If you do it for multiple days or even weeks in a row you will feel exhausted. You may even face burnout.

Switching off social media and your devices gives your mind a chance to rest. I’ve started walking more recently and I don’t take my headphones. It’s called no input time … time to decompress the mind, so it can expand again afterwards.

If you hang out with your devices too much you’ll feel tired, research suggests. You may think it’s a lack of sleep, or too much coffee, or not enough water. Or it could simply be the energy drain of your devices. Think about that.

Tech algorithms run our brains. They speed our minds up to their limit. But if you walk on a treadmill too fast, for too long, and keep increasing the speed, you eventually fall off and slam into a brick wall.

Those who are easily offended should be offended more often

We’re all content creators when we switch on our computers. Congrats.

There are people who wander around with ticking time bombs in their hands, ready to throw them at whoever they see while scrolling. They then blow up in the comments section for no reason. Onlookers duck for cover.

The brutal truth is, there’s no point having everybody agree with you. Some people will agree. Some people will disagree. The point is to make people think. When you do that, you change the world in a positive way.

Web 3.0 isn’t a scam

Haters of Web 3.0 are going to seem unintelligent looking back.

By this point you sound ridiculous if you say blockchain, Web 3.0 or crypto is a scam. It’s more than a $2.1 trillion industry now. The US government is regulating it to bring more trust and confidence. Pretty sure America doesn’t legislate ponzi-schemes.

A woman I spoke to the other day started dissing Web 3.0. At the end of the conversation she asked a few people to stay in touch. Have a guess how? She told them to add her on the Signal messaging app. Signal is Web 3.0. OMG.

My ex’s dad learned the hard way when he refused to understand that email would replace photocopiers and fax machines, and got fired, never to return to work again. At this point in history, it’s not worth being wrong about the innovation Web 3.0 brings, given you’ll be using it in everyday life and at work — and probably already do.

A day full of back-to-back meetings is a nightmare

Meetings fill up your diary. When there’s no time left, you get behind on the real work. Meetings are to discuss work, they’re not actual work.

I spent too many years stuck in back-to-back meetings. This resulted in zero time to talk to customers and execute business decisions. So I had to stay back late and work weekends to “find the time.”

My old boss ended up divorced because of this time trap.

Husband: “I never see you.”

Boss: “I know, I have to work.”

Years after their wedding day: “I’m leaving you. Surprise.”

Weekends and after hours time is meant for family and to relax. If you spend your free time catching up with the days you lost stuck in meetings, you’ll eventually burn out. Say no to more meetings. You can get away with it.

“Doing the right thing is always the right thing”

This quote comes from Gary Vee, love him or hate him (don’t care). I don’t use this sentence as a happy-go-lucky, tree-hugging inspirational quote for Instagram. Nope. It’s a quote to make decisions.

Should I say sorry? Doing the right thing is always the right thing. Should I issue a refund? Doing the right thing is always the right thing. Should I answer that question? Doing the right thing is always the right thing.

When you do the right thing it can look like you lose in the short term. But behind closed doors, when you do the right thing, it builds a reputation in the long term. A reputation builds trust. And trust can unlock your wildest dreams.

The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear — Socrates

Those who complain the most accomplish the least

Social media is flooded with complainers. They stand on their Twitter soapboxes and add to the noise. They get drowned out and often feel like it’s hopeless.

Then I look at someone like Greta Thunberg. Some idolize her and some hate her — who cares.

As a kid she gave up school time to protest about climate change. Her decision led to an enormous movement. (Notice how she didn’t go on Twitter and simply scream?) Now she has achieved more than most of us will achieve in a lifetime. She’s no smarter than you and I. She simply takes action over complaining. A lot can be learned from Greta.

Most of all, nobody is coming to save you. May as well roll up your sleeves and take action.


  • Appreciate when life goes bad. Use it as motivation.
  • Look at every price tag in time, not money.
  • Slow down your brain with less time spent under the influence of tech algorithms.
  • Reject all the meeting requests so you can get your free time back. Use that free time to build your own tiny empire.
  • Use this quote to make decisions faster: “Doing the right thing is always the right thing.”
  • Resist the temptation to complain all the time. Take action on the things that upset you. There’s always something you can do.
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The Pandemic Destroyed Our Honeymoon. We’re Going to Celebrate Anyway.

Pandemic relationship advice

Photo by Karen Holmes on Unsplash

Your wedding day is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life.

Mine is coming up fast. Right after the big day, my partner and I had planned to go on a non-fancy honeymoon to The Great Barrier Reef. We assumed that we would be vaccinated by then and out of lockdown. We compromised already by ensuring the location for our honeymoon is in Australia where we live. It seemed likely we could make it happen, despite the pandemic.

What we didn’t expect was “Delta.”

Australia has had a minimal supply of vaccines, so the variant in the virus has spread rapidly and caused havoc. In year two of the pandemic we are in the 6th phase of lockdowns. The borders between states of Australia have shut again.

We found out yesterday that our wedding at the government registration office could be in jeopardy too. There’s simply no certainty anymore. I feel like you can’t make plans and expect them to stick.

What do you do when your plans continuously get ruined by a pandemic?

Adopt this mindset

A few close friends and family have succumbed to the wrath of the pandemic. They’ve given up. They’ve turned on the government. Some have even made the stupid decision not to get vaccinated. They say “well, what’s the point? The variant is going to require ongoing vaccinations anyway. May as well wait until the updated version of the vaccine.”

Giving up doesn’t solve the pandemic. Being selfish definitely doesn’t solve the pandemic.

In fact, you could argue that selfishness is what brought us to this point in the first place. All those knobs who refused to wear a mask when the science was clear. I still don’t get why the N95 mask isn’t held up like the holy grail. It’s so much better than a normal mask and isn’t hard to source. Heck, I’ve got boxes of them at home if anybody needs one.

But here we are. There’s no changing 2020.

All we can do is learn from the destruction. Future pandemics should be bliss, I hope. With a bit of luck my future children will have a father who is trained in pandemics and ready to fight the invisible enemy with N95 masks, hand sanitizer, social distancing, stay-at-home orders ( for early on), and thick books on the science of pandemics and how to overcome them.

Sometimes I feel like the pandemic has been an intelligence test.

And, unfortunately, masses of people around the world have failed. They think we can simply wish all of this to pass and go back to chugging beer, yelling in traffic from oversized SUVs, and showing up to some open plan office nightmare. The pandemic inserted multiple back-to-back gap years into our lives. My honeymoon is over. It may not happen for years.

The mindset I use to fight the war in my head is this: People have it worse than us. The problems of others make your own disasters smaller.

Daily uncertainty is a habit to be learned

Certainty isn’t returning to a town near you anytime soon.

The pandemic forced us into lives filled with uncertainty. There are many paths from here. Maybe things slow down with the vaccine. Maybe more variants of the virus emerge. The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 actually got deadlier as it progressed — when people complain about the current pandemic, I like to remind them of this fact.

It’s bad … but it could be way worse. Expecting things to go back to normal is a reflection of our need for certainty. Certainty feels safe and so we expect it. There’s no certainty for the rest of the year though.

What’s helped me is to make uncertainty a habit. I’ve had to train my brain to adapt to the varied scenarios on a daily basis. For example, I’ve been in and out of lockdowns for the past few months. In between each lockdown has been a few weeks of freedom.

During those weeks my partner and I have filled them up with activities. We make the most of freedom, safely, while it lasts. This has given us a whole new perspective on what freedom really is. Previously, we took a nice meal in a restaurant or a hike to the mountains for granted. It’s almost like we expected these things. That’s the ugliness of privilege that can quietly slip into your life without you realizing it.

Tomorrow is unknown. How can you make the best of today?

Choose to be happy with whatever happens

Our honeymoon is destroyed. Our wedding day is up in the air. What’s odd is that getting married doesn’t change anything, according to my friends who are already hitched.

We already live together. We’ve endured the pandemic together without murdering each other. We’ve worked side by side from home and have not lost any major customers. We’ve supported each other through some of the most difficult times in history. Some would say we’ve already practiced the art of marriage successfully. Does a marriage certificate change any of that? Nope.

Once we do finally get married, a honeymoon in The Great Barrier Reef is unlikely. So we’re going to celebrate anyway. We’re going to do a local honeymoon about an hour from where we live. The location of a honeymoon doesn’t make us happy.

Being banished from interstate or overseas travel doesn’t place a limiter on life. No. Having our honeymoon canceled left me with one big idea.

It’s the people we’ve endured the pandemic with that count.

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You Get One Life. Don’t Screw It up by Being Normal.

Self improvement advice

Photo by Daria Magazzu on Unsplash

Anthony Bourdain died trying to be normal.

I love him as a chef and tv host. His show “Parts Unknown” helped me travel to countries I can never visit. Not all “parts” of Tony are worth liking. He has a dark side. Recently, I watched a documentary of his final days.

One thing stood out: he tried so hard to be normal.

He got married several times, looking for normal. He even had a daughter to try and be a dad. Watching Tony in his backyard attempting to cook a BBQ and be a sitcom tv dad made my stomach twist. Tony just couldn’t do it. He couldn’t be normal no matter how hard he tried.

It became apparent from his last romantic relationship that Tony wanted a life partner so he could feel normal. But Tony is anything but normal. He spent his early years working in odd restaurants and doing harsh drugs. Then he wrote a strange book that saw unusual success and made him famous. The fame led to a tv show. The tv show allowed him to be like his childhood cartoon hero Tintin and travel the world.

By exploring the world, Tony discovered an unknown part of himself. The quest to find what makes different societies thrive steered his entire life. I watched him uncover the uncomfortable truths of Libya and their dictator leader Gaddafi. Tony bizarrely found inspiration amongst all the bloodshed.

His tv stories seemed to inspire the audience to believe in country comebacks. They focused heavily on the culture of people that transcended the CNN headlines of his tv show employer.

When Tony’s life partner left him for another man, the quest for normal ended, and Tony took his life.

Like Tony, my whole life I’ve tried to be normal and failed spectacularly. A random quote from Isaiah McCall led to the title of this story. Then this quote below helped me understand the lie of normalcy.

The older I get, the more I realize it’s okay to live a life others don’t understand — Aaron Will

What is normal anyway?

Who defines normal? So many people online want to tell us how to think. They try to tell us what is normal and what isn’t. They try to shape our thoughts in the comments section, hoping we’ll fall into line with their version of normal.

Screw being normal, it doesn’t exist. The solution is to be yourself.

Normal is how you become a slave. When you fall for other people’s view of the world you give up on your own. That’s the real tragedy. What you believe is freaking fantastic. It has been shaped by your own experience, not some puppet on the end of a stick controlled by a government. The description of normal has been debated for thousands of years and nobody is yet to agree.

Defining normal is the definition of insanity.

So you’re weird. Hooray!

I’m the weirdest dude you’ve ever met. My life is anything but cookie-cutter. I am obsessed with time. I eat a whole-food plant-based diet, and can’t stand to watch an animal die so it can be my meal.

I think of every animal as a puppy dog — and those who know me well, know that I loooove dogs. But I also can’t own a dog because I can’t stand to have them as my prisoner in an apartment with no backyard. And 60-minute trips to an enclosed park feels like torture to my dog-loving brain, too.

My day isn’t normal either. I spend a lot of time reading about finance and other weird topics most people couldn’t give a damn about. I work in a home office with zero artwork. In fact, my entire house has not one thing attached to the wall. Because I can’t own a dog I have indoor plants all around me. They don’t smile back — yet — but their green colors do produce some kind of strange happiness inside my mushy brain.

Maybe you can relate. There are parts of your life that are probably whacko Jacko too, yeah?

Weird should be the goal in life.

If you’re weird then you should celebrate with a party, and get U2 to sing the celebratory song. When you identify as weird, you unconsciously give up the lame dream of being normal. Weird is normal — that’s the paradox of life.

Know you’re weird, embrace it, and you can finally live a life without regrets. You can be a carefree badass who gets spat on in the street, keeps walking, and licks the gooey saliva up and calls it lunch.

There simply isn’t time to care about every little thing

I’m 35 already. God damn time flew, and I haven’t even had any fun yet. That’s why I quit my pain-in-the-ass job. That’s why I’m getting married. I’ve wasted so much time trying to get a good job, please the parents with a house and white picket fence, get an education, and keep the haters happy.

Screw it. If 35 years can go this fast, then the next 35 can go even faster. According to research, as we age and follow routines, our perception of time speeds up. So if you think there is time to be normal, think again. Normal wastes a large chunk of your life and it can never be achieved.

Worship the time you have. Spend time on being weird because that means you’re being yourself. Be kind to those who disagree with your weirdness.

Nobody can understand your life

Most people don’t get my life. They wonder why I don’t put on a political t-shirt and point out every problem in the world. They wonder how I make money online and not feel bad.

The thing is, nobody else lives in your head. There isn’t a transcript you can extract from your brain and email to people who don’t understand your life. You can’t go “here, this is all of my life experiences that will help you understand me.”

Perception comes from living the experience, anyway. Even if someone could get a read-out of your brain, your life still wouldn’t make sense because they didn’t physically use your eyes, ears, tongue, and mind to navigate each experience. You did that. The information your senses gave you formed your understanding of the world. Now you’re doing the best you can to understand all the noise before you die.

To understand a person is impossible.

The solution is to be compassionate towards other people, to make up for what you can never understand about them, because you don’t have the ignition keys to their brain.

One life has been issued to you. Don’t waste it begging for understanding. Screw being normal. The consequences are far too great as we learned from the death of Anthony Bourdain.

To seek normalcy is a path to insanity.

Instead, be yourself and embrace all the weird quirks you’ve created. Oscar Wilde’s advice is to “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” That’s the best way to exterminate normalcy.

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