Are you a good person? The answer to this question is almost guaranteed to be yes, and the people who say no are just so tiresome I will pretend they said yes as well, because dealing with that brand of Hot Topic self-loathing isn't in the cards for today. So, we all think we're good people, by and large. But could you be a better person? Now, here, if you say no, you're probably awful. and I won't listen to that, either. Go back to your wife, Kanye.
For much of us, there's wiggle room to be a better person. We can take stock of our lives, what we've done, and say, "Yes, I could have dropped my pants on the bus fewer times than I did," or whatever your personal bugaboo is. And that's good. You should want to be a better person, because why not? You have a finite amount of time in this world, and why not keep trying to do better and be better? And it doesn't even have to be hard. And just think: if everyone tried to be better, everything would be better. Is that ever going to happen? Fuck no, but you can try and make things a tiny bit better, because otherwise you're hanging with those miserable Hot Topic sad sacks again, and who can handle that?
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What's the best way to be better? Learn better. That shit's tight. Socrates, noted brainiac and corrupter of boys, once said something along the lines of, "The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing." This more or less means you will never know everything, and being aware that you don't know everything is a good thing. No one likes a cocky know-it-all. So you start from a position of realizing you know jack, and that leaves a lot of room to learn new stuff. That makes you a wiser, more-rounded person, and that's alright.
While most of us can't wait to get the hell out of school and start a sweet life full of microwave burritos and lazy afternoon jack off sessions between episodes of Maury, some of us keep learning even beyond grad school, and it doesn't require a knit cap or thick-rimmed glasses. Self-directed learning can, in fact, be all kinds of awesome.
While school wants you to learn terrible things like how to make change with an abacus and what Robert Frost thought about farmhouses and cow shit, self-directed learning is all about you. For instance, you can learn the electric guitar, which is awesome. You can play it for friends and family at parties, or on the street for strangers, or in a band at clubs and make hundreds of people feel awesome. You could be Slash and play every Guns N' Roses song, and that is literally the best thing a person can do with a guitar. You can do that! I'm going to do that later! Let's do it together!
There's no downside to learning, unless you're just looking into more efficient ways to dispose of bodies that ensures no gang of kids in the woods will find your latest victim. And that's a good thing, too. So even your learned psychosis is kind of a good thing. Face it, learning is aces. Go learn shit.
Maybe this is my own personal handicap, but I can get in negative ruts sometimes that manifest themselves powerfully through the word no.
"Hey, Felix, you want to hit up this party?"
"Hey, Felix, you want to go to this art gallery where you can doodle cartoon characters on the boobs of giggling drunk ladies?"
"Hey, Felix, Susan Sarandon is at the door, and she says she's looking for the greatest motorboat enthusiast this side of Bangkok. What should I tell her?"
Why would I ever do that? Why would you? Sometimes saying no is a product of wallowing in one's own misery -- your boss kept you late at work, and then, on the way out, said you stink like the ballsack of a two-week-old dead hobo. That's mean. And it brings you down. So you want to sit and stew at home. Other times it's just a result of not wanting to leave your comfort zone. For instance, part of me would love to go skydiving, and part of me is deathly afraid of heights. That second part has won out every argument I've had on this topic, ever. Maybe one day I'll jump from a plane like a crazy man, but for now I'm saying no.
Not gonna feast on my soul today, gravity.
Saying yes takes more than just watching a mediocre Jim Carrey movie. It really involves a fundamental change in how you approach life. You say no to so many things, because you want to. Otherwise, you'd say yes. How do you convince yourself to do things you don't want to do? It's hard as shit. But if you have the motivation of wanting to be a better person, you even the playing field of your laziness a little bit.
At this point you ask yourself things like, "What's the harm in saying yes?" or "What has saying no ever got me?" And before you know it, you're calling yourself stupid for missing out on boobs and parachutes and boat trips to a wizard's castle. (Note: Say no to that last one; it's a trick.)
If you're the cynical type, you may still be wondering what the point behind this is, how it would make you a better person anyway, and it's your lucky day, Susie Cynical, because I'll tell you -- saying yes is being positive. It's letting go of negative habits, trying new stuff, meeting new people, and experiencing new tastes or points of view or hobbies or whatever-the-hell. It's not what you say yes to that matters, it's that you let go of the habit of not wanting to change things. That makes you dynamic and flexible and an assorted other words that could be used to describe a gymnast.