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Rules to Live By
January 9, 2008 10:14 AM   Subscribe

50 Things I've Learned in 50 Years.

Best one:

17. Don’t waste your breath proclaiming what’s really important to you. How you spend your time says it all.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders (81 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's all a bit Marcus Aurelius for me. You could skip this and read his Meditations too. Like, if you wanted to.
posted by MrMerlot at 10:21 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


9. Cough syrup doesn’t work.

Sure it does. Puts babies right to sleep.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:22 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


"5. The medium is not the message. Those who issue blanket condemnations of any form of communication—be it TV, tabloids, text messages or blogs—simply aren’t paying attention.

When this sentiment comes from someone who isn't IN the media, I'm much more likely to pay attention.
posted by hermitosis at 10:24 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like the idea of passing along nuggets of hard-won wisdom.
I don't like the medium of glib T-shirt slogans.
posted by the sobsister at 10:26 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


1 thing I've learned in 26 years. Platitudes suck.
posted by generichuman at 10:26 AM on January 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


I liked this one:

8. Don’t be bothered when people don’t share your tastes in music, sports, literature, food and fashion. Be glad. You’d never get tickets to anything otherwise.
posted by drezdn at 10:26 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Another "list" still making the e-mail rounds: Regina Brett's 45 life lessons and 5 to grow on.
posted by ericb at 10:27 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


"11. The Golden Rule is the greatest moral truth. If you don’t believe in it, at least try to fake it."

I find the Golden Rule to be self-centered and inconsiderate. Rather than treat people the way you would like to be treated yourself, it's much better to treat people as they would prefer to be treated. Different people, especially those from different cultures, have different standards of behavior, and different preferences.

"Do unto others as they would have others do unto them" is my golden rule.
posted by yeolcoatl at 10:28 AM on January 9, 2008 [7 favorites]


Wear Sunscreen.
posted by ericb at 10:30 AM on January 9, 2008


Fear of failure is a ticket to mediocrity.

I don't know why people are always railing against mediocrity. It's my mediocrity that makes the rest of you look so good. Please appreciate it.
posted by poppo at 10:30 AM on January 9, 2008 [8 favorites]


9. Cough syrup doesn’t work.

What a stupid thing to include. DXM is fun, supresses hacking coughs, and Guaf is an effective expectorant. How about

51. Set your expectations appropriately: Read the packaging.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:31 AM on January 9, 2008


I did not know any of that! Wow! Thanks!








51) Sarcasm sucks.
posted by tkchrist at 10:32 AM on January 9, 2008


1 Thing I've Learned After Seven Years Of Metafilter

1. Snide, off-handed, dismissal is easier than reasoned discussion.
posted by Optamystic at 10:34 AM on January 9, 2008 [17 favorites]


Cough syrup with codiene is much better. It doesn't work, but you won't care as much.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 10:34 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


50. Readers love lists. You got to the bottom of this one, didn’t you?

I have a scroll wheel. Makes getting to the bottom of lists without giving much attention to the usually superficial and padded list almost inevitable.
posted by TimTypeZed at 10:36 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sure it does. Puts babies right to sleep.

You're thinking of Benadryl. Sweet, sweet Benadryl.
posted by dw at 10:36 AM on January 9, 2008


Wait, most people think volleyball is lame? No-one told me that.
posted by martinrebas at 10:38 AM on January 9, 2008


Fear of failure is a ticket to mediocrity.

MEDIOCRITY starts with ME!
posted by sidereal at 10:42 AM on January 9, 2008 [9 favorites]


These things can often be grating, but I liked the tone of this one.

51. Tone is very often as important as substance in human communication. Sometimes even moreso. When you're talking to a drunk with a weapon in his hand, for example.

Oh and this?

43. The store-brand jelly, cereal, paper goods, baking supplies and pharmacy products are good enough.

Needs its corollary: 43a). The store-brand cleaning products, for some reason, are nowhere near good enough.
posted by gompa at 10:42 AM on January 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


It's a happy coincidence, presumably, that there are exactly 50 lessons. It would have been awful if there were only 46 and he had to pad it out to make it a round number. Or if there were 51, and he had to cut "avoid condescension".
posted by WPW at 10:42 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks, ssf. I found I agreed with more of these than I disagreed with, which is a better record than most such lists garner. Naturally, there's one I want to address specifically:

30. Most folk remedies are nonsense, but zinc really does zap colds.

It probably does. I tried the zinc lozenges once, when I had a cold a few years ago. They left a horrible metallic aftertaste in my mouth for hours after I took each one, and no amount of rinsing or eating or drinking or chewing anything else would get rid of it. And just about the time the horrible metallic aftertaste began to subside, it was time to take another one. After a few days of this, I decided I'd rather deal with the cold than have that constant metallic taste in my mouth. Never tried 'em again.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:45 AM on January 9, 2008


21. Fear of failure is a ticket to mediocrity. If you’re not failing from time to time, you’re not pushing yourself. And if you’re not pushing yourself, you’re coasting.


Yeah, I dont know if he realized that this one, with its focus on some external judgement, contradicts any of the others which were basically trying to say "Live life on your own terms."
posted by vacapinta at 10:46 AM on January 9, 2008


Yeah, I dont know if he realized that this one, with its focus on some external judgement, contradicts any of the others which were basically trying to say "Live life on your own terms."

Does it really imply an external judgment? I kind of thought he meant self-judged mediocrity. Like, "if you're afraid of failure, you'll never consider yourself a success".

Not a bad list at all, I thought. Definitely way better than that sunscreen song.
posted by equalpants at 10:54 AM on January 9, 2008


Things I have learned in my life:

1.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:57 AM on January 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Originality is fine, but why go to extremes? There's always the middle course.
posted by xod at 10:58 AM on January 9, 2008


Do unto others as they would have others do unto them" is my golden rule.

I don't understand how this doesn't end in you buys lots of fancy things for everyone, and waiting on them hand and foot.
posted by milestogo at 11:02 AM on January 9, 2008


I don't understand how this doesn't end in you buys lots of fancy things for everyone, and waiting on them hand and foot.


It all hinges on whose definition of fancy you're using.
Standard golden rule: I'm feeding you white chocolate, because I like white chocolate. Empathic golden rule: I'm feeding you ritz crackers with nutella, because you like that.
Usual practice in daily life: I avoid your gaze on the street and keep a shotgun under my bed.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:11 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeolcoatl, we offer you:

"Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same." - George Bernard Shaw

I found this enjoyable, though I'd replace the dentist appointment one with "The 6-month interval for dentist appointments is designed to foster cleaner accounting, not oral health."
posted by QuietDesperation at 11:14 AM on January 9, 2008


DevilsAdvocate: zinc gluconate sprayed (or swabbed) onto the gums and the roof of the mouth will absolutely kill your cold if you use it early on (when you first feel that sore throat).

I use stuff called Zicam. It's a spray. I have not had a full-blown cold in three years.

Again: You have to use it early and you have to follow the directions (spray every four hours).

You can't already be suffering from a full-blown cold and then start using it and expect it to "cure" your cold.
posted by wfc123 at 11:19 AM on January 9, 2008


Yes, MrMerlot, I too realize the wisdom of being neither of the green nor of the blue party at the games in the Circus, nor a partisan either of the Parmularius or the Scutarius at the gladiators' fights.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:22 AM on January 9, 2008


"Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same." - George Bernard Shaw

A variation:
"in elementary school, in third grade, i was told the golden rule: 'do to others as you would have them do to you.' it seemed like a sound concept until i found that some people like to be urinated upon." - Bobby Burgess
posted by martinrebas at 11:24 AM on January 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


1.) Loose shoes
2.) Tight pussy
3.) And a warm place to shit
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:31 AM on January 9, 2008


7. Prejudice and bigotry is hard-wired into us. You can’t overcome it until you acknowledge it.

I honestly don't believe that. I think prejudice and bigotry are taught or an unfortunate side effect of living in a homogeneous culture more than anything.
posted by piratebowling at 11:37 AM on January 9, 2008


DevilsAdvocate: zinc gluconate sprayed (or swabbed) onto the gums and the roof of the mouth will absolutely kill your cold if you use it early on (when you first feel that sore throat).

You've missed my point entirely.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:39 AM on January 9, 2008


I find the Golden Rule to be self-centered and inconsiderate. Rather than treat people the way you would like to be treated yourself, it's much better to treat people as they would prefer to be treated.

I think the golden rule is understood by many in the sense that you suggest. It's treating people with the same care of treatment that you would want for yourself, taking into account your individual preferences and needs. So it expresses the sentiment that you are suggesting: you would want people to think about your unique needs, and you likewise do the same for others.

It's possible to abuse the rule in the way that you suggest, but I think the use of the word "as" is probably deliberately picked, and not simply the word "what." That is, it's "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," and not "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you." The as implies something more holistic, taking into account the interest of others as the priority, since this is the same quality of care that you desire for yourself.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:43 AM on January 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


I like those. I have issue with this, though:

43. The store-brand jelly, cereal, paper goods, baking supplies and pharmacy products are good enough.

Yes, store brand cereal is good enough if "good enough" means the equivalent of chewing on shards of broken glass and thumbtacks every morning. Because, damn!
posted by The Deej at 11:44 AM on January 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


What would the world be like without zinc?
posted by Flashman at 11:45 AM on January 9, 2008


40. Exercise does not take time. Exercise creates time.

I have found this to be true, and it's one of the more pleasant discoveries for me. The strange thing is that I'm never convinced of the fact psychologically though until I get my butt moving again, if I've been neglecting exercise. It seems like a pretty simple math problem: x amount of hours spent exercising takes x amount of hours from other things I need to get done. But the trick is that it changes the quality of time spent everywhere else, making it more efficient and enjoyable.

And for me, when I'm feeling really good physically and feeling better about life in general as a result, time sort of slows down. When I can think with a clearer head, the stresses of life calms down a bit and the screaming monkeys vying for attention in my head are less noisy. It's sort of like bullet time in the Matrix: I can see the individual moment more for what it is, instead of something that is just mushed in with all the other craziness of life.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:52 AM on January 9, 2008


4. The first person to use the expression “Get a life!” in any dispute is the loser.

Guy sounds like someone who needs to get a life.
posted by delmoi at 11:52 AM on January 9, 2008


What would the world be like without zinc?

I don't know, but I'll tell you this: I wish I lived in a world without zinc!
posted by aramaic at 11:54 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Wait, what thread is this?
posted by everichon at 12:05 PM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Having perused lists like this, I'm going to propose the idea that nobody learns anything from life. I think any 17-yr old mefite could easily draw up a list like this which sounds equally "wise."

These lists should be more accurately named: "My 50 list of pre-existing prejudices which happened to be confirmed by reality (The others I'm still waiting on)"
posted by vacapinta at 12:10 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have three rules of life:

1. Remember you are not God
2. Don't be an asshole
3. Skimp on everything else, but always buy two-ply

Which, you know, is pretty much Christian theology summed up. Well, if Jesus had had toilet paper back then.
posted by dw at 12:11 PM on January 9, 2008


yeolcoatl: I think it's only selfish and inconsiderate if you're being willfully selfish and inconsiderate. In which case you're already breaking the rule.

It's not a cause and effect rule. It's a measure of your actions. "how would I feel if this action were reversed? It's not about preferences so much as it is about intent. And to tell the truth, it's not always a happy good time rule. There are ways of looking at it which could easily account for things like jaelousy and vengefulness. Even in those cases, considering the golden rule ensures that you're creating a space in the world that you yourself fit into.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:28 PM on January 9, 2008


15 things I've learned in 28 years:

1. Spinach isn't as bad as I thought it was. It's not great, but it'll do in a pinch.

2. Roll the condom on, don't unroll it and THEN try to put it on.

3. Even the most chill and open-minded girlfriend doesn't think that farts are cute unless a baby's doing it.

4. Dogs eat their own shit and vomit and will often try to lick your face immediately afterward.

5. Cats don't give a fuck about you or your day.

6. When whittling a piece of wood the knife can catch on a knot, turn around and slice your finger open. This will require stitches to fix.

7. People who think the Gottis have good fashion sense are not worth talking to.

8. If it's something that you obsess over during your alone time, (knitting, video games, Pirates, Ninjas, etc...) chances are people aren't interested in hearing about it unless they share the obsession.

9. Individual votes do not determine an election. Rather individuals pull a lever which, so long as it is being pulled regularly, prevents the electoral college from voting. Once the lever has stopped being pulled at the close of the election day the electoral college is then free to go and elect whoever it wants.

10. Michael Bay is the worst goddamn director ever.

11. While there are some truly incredible American beers, Budweiser tastes like drinking a fart through a garden hose.

12. Homophobic men will allow other men to pat them on the ass so long as they're wearing skintight polyester and leather and are getting sweaty.

13. The key to beating Contra for the NES is to press the following sequence of buttons while the Start screen scrolls in from the right: Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A B A Start. (If you're playing with someone else press Select before you press Start.)

14. If you drive into a telephone pole fast enough, you will knock the bottom out of the pole and it will sit straight up on your hood thanks to the tension of the telephone wires. However, the town will charge you for destroying the pole.

15. When people ask you how you're doing, they just want to hear "Fine, how are you?" not a lengthy explanation of what's going on in your life.
posted by shmegegge at 12:34 PM on January 9, 2008 [9 favorites]


I don't know, but I'll tell you this: I wish I lived in a world without zinc!

NO NO NO!!!!!! Be careful what you wish for!!!!!
posted by The Deej at 12:38 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


42. Whenever you walk into a restroom with a smile on your face, you are dreaming. Do not pee.

91. The way to Carnegie Hall is practice, practice, practice, or one easy payment of 100 grand.

3. 14159

77. Everyone likes lists. Everyone dies, too. So, the lists don't seem to be working out for us.
posted by aftermarketradio at 1:11 PM on January 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


14. If you drive into a telephone pole fast enough, you will knock the bottom out of the pole and it will sit straight up on your hood thanks to the tension of the telephone wires. However, the town will charge you for destroying the pole.

I'm totally going to try this on the commute home.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:11 PM on January 9, 2008


43. The store-brand jelly, cereal, paper goods, baking supplies and pharmacy products are good enough.

Not true, unless you want your children's PB&J sandwiches to have partially hydrogenated oils and way too much sugar/corn syrup in them.

51: I will never agree with everthing in a published list.
posted by davejay at 1:18 PM on January 9, 2008


14. If you drive into a telephone pole fast enough, you will knock the bottom out of the pole and it will sit straight up on your hood thanks to the tension of the telephone wires. However, the town will charge you for destroying the pole.

103. If you find yourself sitting in the cab of your truck with a metal wire connecting the front bumper of your truck to a stump in the ground that you're trying to pull out, and you're about to put the truck into reverse, stop and hire a professional.

(that one courtesy of the broken windshield and facial stitches of my neighbor.)
posted by davejay at 1:20 PM on January 9, 2008


Bad News Hughes' advice for children.
posted by Optamystic at 1:35 PM on January 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hey, forgot about Bad News Hughes. Thanks, Optamystic!
posted by everichon at 1:50 PM on January 9, 2008


1.) Loose pussy
2.) Tight shoes
3.) And shit in a warm place.
posted by doctorschlock at 2:18 PM on January 9, 2008


1. You can't be a ninja overnight
2. Everything makes you fat
3. People hate you
posted by doctorschlock at 2:21 PM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


1. Dogs can talk. Check the babycam.
2. The bus driver farts
3. Everything you know is wrong.
posted by doctorschlock at 2:23 PM on January 9, 2008


from the Bad News Hughes link:

When it comes time to pick out that first tattoo, remember: it doesn’t matter how much you like that one comic book. There’s always a chance that eight years later someone will make a movie of it that stars Sylvester Stallone. And you’ll be fucked.

Fucking priceless.
posted by shmegegge at 2:33 PM on January 9, 2008


Highly educated people make just as many mistakes as folks with an average education, except they're less likely to question their logic/reasoning or admit they're wrong. Applies especially to some physicians who lack any trace of empathy for their patients in addition to routinely jumping to wrong conclusions and dismissing their patients' health complaints out of hand.

Disclaimer: I've also run across impossibly kind, genuinely concerned, not to mention very smart doctors who would have made world class detectives had they chosen that profession.
posted by Devils Slide at 2:44 PM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


50 insights over 50 years would be even more interesting if they were evenly spaced:

1. You can crawl pretty fast when Mommy's back is turned.
2. If you slam the edge of your bowl really hard, your Cheerios go flying.
3. Infant siblings are high-maintenance, home-wrecking attention hogs.
4. If you wash down that bite of peas with a gulp of milk, the taste is less offensive.
5. ...
posted by kurumi at 2:44 PM on January 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


I was always taught to Do Unto Others before They Do Unto You
posted by Postroad at 2:56 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


2 things I've learned in the past minute:

1. I'm still at work.

2. I've got two hours left.
posted by katillathehun at 3:06 PM on January 9, 2008


“1 Thing I've Learned After Seven Years Of Metafilter
1. Snide, off-handed, dismissal is easier than reasoned discussion.”

Whatever.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:08 PM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


1. Crush enemies
2. ????
3. Enjoy lamentation of their women
posted by Smedleyman at 3:09 PM on January 9, 2008


1. Never pass up a bathroom.
2. Never waste a hard-on.
3. Never trust a fart.

- 'Edward Cole' (Jack Nicholson) in The Bucket List.
posted by ericb at 3:48 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


from the Bad News Hughes link:


Beat off enough and eventually someone will walk in on you while you’re doing it. When this happens, pause, look them directly in the eye and say, “You done ruined the romance, so go ahead and say whatever it is you want to say.” If they don’t immediately apologize and leave, run over there and put your hands on their face.


Thank you, optimystic, for the most I've laughed in months.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:10 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


1.) Loose shoes
2.) Tight pussy
3.) And a warm place to shit
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:31 PM on January 9 [+] [!]


That reminds me of something my dad used to say: "There's three things I hate. Wet toilet paper, warm beer, and a smart ass." There's your list.
posted by wafaa at 4:37 PM on January 9, 2008


There's only one solid piece of advice that works for everyone that I know of and it is this:

Take care of your teeth.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:38 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Cornbread. Ain't nothing wrong with that.
posted by Slap Factory at 5:11 PM on January 9, 2008


gompa writes "43. The store-brand jelly, cereal, paper goods, baking supplies and pharmacy products are good enough.

"Needs its corollary: 43a). The store-brand cleaning products, for some reason, are nowhere near good enough."


Actually, for me, one thing I've recently learned is that life is too short to eat crap. Money spent on good, raw ingredients to make food is not wasted, even if it's more expensive than eating frozen pizza and no-name sugary cereal. Money spent on mass-produced junk food is wasted (but occasionally worth it, because, hey, this isn't religion). Eating well has the added benefit of improving your health and making you feel better.

Generic medicine? Paper goods? Yeah, as cheap as possible, but not food, not anymore.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:37 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


9. Cough syrup doesn’t work.

That depends on how you define "work".
posted by Tube at 5:49 PM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Generic food is made by people who respect your body about as much as you expect them to. That's why they pour in corn syrup by the gallon. The store-brand jelly is not good enough for *anything*, except possibly serving as a substrate for the boric acid that's killing those little black ants. And then only if someone gave it to you at the office party.
posted by yath at 5:55 PM on January 9, 2008


Loved this post! Thank you!
posted by nickyskye at 6:36 PM on January 9, 2008


Now that you’ve climbed up there, it’s a lot higher than it looks, isn’t it? Dumbass.

Brilliant. Thank you, thank you Optamystic!
posted by The Bellman at 7:22 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


11. While there are some truly incredible American beers, Budweiser tastes like drinking a fart through a garden hose.


11a. Beer snobs always seem to forget one important thing: It's just beer.
posted by wfc123 at 7:50 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


9. Cough syrup doesn’t work.

Tell that to the kids: Millions of youths use cold meds to get high.

Hey, you. Ya you. Get offa my fuckin' lawn!!!
posted by ericb at 8:28 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anyone who declares themselves the winner of an argument automatically loses the argument.
posted by delmoi at 10:52 PM on January 9, 2008


1. Cynicism does not convey wisdom, and happiness is not stupidity.
posted by ikalliom at 3:52 AM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


1. Crush enemies
2. See them driven before you
3. Enjoy lamentation of their women

Best Schwarzenegger line(s) ever.
posted by LordSludge at 6:42 AM on January 10, 2008


Beer snobs always seem to forget one important thing: It's just beer.

This is a philosophy I've always held dear. I completely agree that to say that ANYTHING tastes/sounds/looks/feels/smells bad is the height of snobbery. Indeed, the only thing that demonstrates greater and more perfidious hubris than that is to actually appreciate something enough to value it's better varieties and brands over the more mediocre ones. For instance, anyone who says they don't like McDonald's is clearly a food snob, and they've forgotten than it's just food. Anyone who doesn't guzzle gallons of Franzia out of a carboard box is obviously a wine snob and has forgotten that it's just wine, and anyone who doesn't marvel at the smell of any old pedestrian shit on the sidewalk is clearly an olfactory snob and has forgotten that it's just their nose.
posted by shmegegge at 8:36 AM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've always preferred the categorical imperative to the golden rule. It has a lot more protection against people who like weird things.
posted by systematic at 10:50 PM on January 10, 2008


I've always preferred the categorical imperative to the golden rule. It has a lot more protection against people who like weird things.

Unless the person who likes weird things thinks that an ideal world would universalize their weirdness.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:19 AM on January 11, 2008


11. While there are some truly incredible American beers, Budweiser tastes like drinking a fart through a garden hose.

That is truly the most fabulous description I've read in a long time. Fabulous, I tell you! Allow me to apologize in advance (from the bottom of my beer-snobby soul) for all the times I'll be plagiarizing that in future conversations ...
posted by zeph at 6:27 PM on January 12, 2008


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