5 Simple Steps to Not Being a Total Asshole

#4. Question Your Motivations

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Let's try another emotional shortcut to help you fake your way into behaving like a decent human being. You probably think of your life like an action movie. I'm going to take a stab in the dark here and bet that you, a total fucking asshole, think of yourself like Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious series. Just an educated, almost certainly correct guess -- but feel free to fill in the blanks. Maybe you're Jason Statham. I don't know. We're all unique snowflakes.

Now, try to picture each human interaction like it's the start of an action movie. If the audience were watching these events unfold, do you think they'd sympathize with you? Would you be the hero, or the asshole the hero humiliates for comedic relief right at the start? Do you feel the need for revenge at some perceived slight? That's OK. But consider: Will the burning need for vengeance in your heart be understood by the movie-going public?

For example: If you want to beat the shit out of a guy because he murdered your family and shot you in the head on your wedding day, the answer is probably yes! You are entirely justified in your actions, and the audience -- your fellow man -- will likely sympathize. But would it make for a very good action flick if Uma Thurman, say, embarked on an epic four-hour quest for revenge against the old lady who accidentally stepped on her new Reeboks? Do you think Die Hard would be the classic that is today if Bruce Willis had thrown Hans Gruber off of Nakatomi Plaza because he looked at him snottily at a Sox game? We probably wouldn't have been on board with Taken if Liam Neeson was kicking the holy shit out of the guys who forgot to hold the door for him at Denny's.

If you're feeling the need to physically attack somebody, just stop and ask yourself: Would this make for a good plotline to Rambo 7? If not, consider just letting it the fuck go and moving on with your life.

#5. And Ask Yourself One More Question Before You Do Anything ...

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And that last, most important question is this: Does what I am about to do benefit me more than it inconveniences others?

That sounds selfish on the surface, but remember: You're not trying to learn how to be a saint here. You just don't want to be the biggest shithead on the city bus today.

If you have to cut a lady off in traffic because you're running late for an important job interview, that's probably not the biggest deal. She's still going to be pissed at you, and justifiably so, but she's going to be annoyed for a few minutes about something that might potentially turn your life around. It's still kind of a dick move, but it's understandable. You're stealing bread to feed yourself, not stealing wallets to feed your mistress' addiction to Prada. You're being an asshole, but a small and largely acceptable one -- like on a cat or something.

However, if it's a full month after Independence Day and you're thinking about lighting off some illegal fireworks in the middle of your suburban street at midnight, try asking that important question: Will the joy you get from looking at some lights and hearing a noise for two seconds outweigh the inconvenience of waking up your entire neighborhood -- dogs barking, babies crying, everybody trying to get back to sleep to catch a few hours before work tomorrow? Unless you're Jackson Pollock on LSD, you probably don't like pretty colors enough to balance out the fury-debt of an entire residential street. Maybe you can put off the Fourth of August celebration until morning.

That's it for now! There's tons more to learn -- don't talk when the movie starts, don't gossip about your co-workers, don't yell at anybody who works for tips for longer than 20 seconds, never talk to strangers about your pecs -- but them's the basics. Have fun, and enjoy your new life of not being the biggest hat full of asses that somebody had the misfortune of running into today!

Read more from Brockway at his own monument to narcissism/website, The Brock Way. Follow him on Goodreads, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

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Robert Brockway

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