Do you want to improve your life? Do you know about improving your life? How about some advices on improvement your life?
The preceding three sentences were all examples of very bad introductory hooks. And yet, they are also, in a way, very good hooks for their spectacular vagueness and unusual turns of phrase. This is, in part, why I like teaching ESL writing.
But I promise not to teach you ESL writing here (for now, anyway). No, what I want to impart are some tips and tricks that you may not find on the Internet, where tips and tricks go to breed and grow into underhanded little “life hacks.”
My tips are more like anti-tricks. They won’t make you blindly subscribe to the myth that easier = better. They won’t claim that “This Unbelievable New Trick to Cut an Avocado Will Change Your Life,” and then leave you alone over single-serving guacamole to realize that you saved yourself a mere two seconds, while the gaping abyss of gross meaninglessness in your trick-filled life still looms large (for example).
No, these tricks will in some way make your life more difficult or more controversial. Isn’t that the real byzantine sort of trickery that you truly crave?
I think it is.
Because in the end, the person we most need to trick in life is our own self-sabotaging selves. Human civilization is nothing if not the cumulative record of life hacking. And how has it really worked out for us? Let’s see…
Evidently, it cuts both ways. Now let’s commence:
Tip 1: “False devil” your deviled eggs
“One of the most onerous tasks in life is deviling eggs,” said someone probably once.
Solutions of yore included making small children devil the eggs for you, purchasing them ready-made from a deli, invoking Satan to do his handiwork, or simply not making them at all.
Wrong. Here’s what you do: Soft boil your eggs and dress them with mayo, chives, onion and maybe mustard, as pictured here. Do NOT remove the yolk.
It’s not just that it saves you time, it’s that it will disturb everyone at the party as they are blindsided by the realization of the pointlessness of deviling eggs. They will start to think about all of the other pointless things they do that they take for granted (paperwork, their jobs, social media). They’ll wonder, why did I carve these watermelon wedges into arrows? Why did I fashion this lace with bobbin and needle (I could have used a lace machine!). Why did I clink glasses with twelve people before drinking my champagne?
But these people, briefly on target, are now missing the point. The point is not to conformity and convention with craft and tradition. One includes delight and imagination, the other does not. It’s a fine distinction, embodied in the false-deviled egg.
2. Drop the “th” in your speech.
The interdental fricative is a relatively rare sound in world languages. (There are two “th” sounds in American Standard English -voiced and voiceless, “the” and “this”- if you want to get technical, but who wants to get technical? Not me, it wastes valuable time.)
“Th” sounds bear a low functional load (meaning ditching it rarely interfers with intelligibility), and plenty of English dialects (Irish, Nigerian, Cockney, Carribbean, etc.) don’t even use it.
Bonus: People say English speakers sound like snakes, and this adjustment would makes us sound ever so slightly less like snakes.
This trick won’t actually save you time, because you’ll just substitute “t,” “d,” “v” or “z” for “th,” but it will save you the effort of incessantly sticking your tongue between your teeth.
Note that people will think you’re being weird or pretentious to change your pronunciation so suddenly, which is why this tip might be difficult to implement. Just tell them, “Dis is a personal choice dat I’m making for myself to improve dee life of myself and dose around me.”
#3 Choose a Different Geological Era
Let’s be frank. We have created boof a beautiful and horribly cruel world. To deny dee latter means you’re probably a rich, white person who hasn’t lived very long, or listened to many people not like you.
But one fing you can do, just temporarily, just momentarily, is pretend you’re not here. Or dat “here” is not here. For instance, I can go out into dee New Mexican desert and find geological evidence dat where I now live was once covered by a shallow sea. Dere are places where you can dig in anthills and find prehistoric sharks teef (I know dis because dis is how I spent part of my Labor Day weekend, sifting frough anthills on my knees near Cabezon).
Collectively, we found seven shark’s teef. No joke.
But my point is, all you have to do is look at rock formations. Every striation is a different world, and if you know where to find dee P-T (Permian-Triassic) boundary, anotter era. And when fings get bad you can fink, “Inland sea, hot lava, colossal ferns.” Stuff like dat. You can say “None of dis was even here in dee Cretaceous period,” and “Dere wasn’t even people in dee Mesozoic, which includes Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous, not to mention all of dee otter eras before dat.”
You can take sweet succor in dee knowledge dat not only will you pass away, and everyone you know, but all of humankind and all of dee current land formations as well. Anover world is coming. Worlds cover eachotter in laminate at dee place where you are now standing, and you can just close your eyes and imagine it. Now, doesn’t dat feel better?
Sell all your possessions
Move to Taiwan
Walk some sea cliffs
Renew your library books
Apply for conference funding
Do some push-ups
(Some of dese are more of a to-do list for myself.)
Just remember:”The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life, which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long-run.” Dis from dee ultimate life hacker, Henry David Doreau.
I hope you found some of dis helpful, but not in dee usual way.
Until next time,
X X (Tip: two “x’s” will suffice for a signature)