Урок №85. How to Do Life: what they didn’t teach you in school, Part II
by Marty Nemko, (written for Mensa’s national magazine), adapted
Recreation. Advertisements try to get you to buy $100 football, theatre, or concert tickets, not to mention $50,000 cars. But what actually gives you the most fun per dollar? Here’s my list:
Hikes with my doggie, Einstein.
Hanging out with my wife
Giving a private piano concert in my home
Reading books and magazines
What should go on your list?
Coupling Despite all the societal changes in the past half century, many of us still reflexively feel we should be in a couple or have children. And for some people, that’s right. But many people get married and have kids, if only unconsciously, because its what you’re supposed to do. But I’ve observed that some of the happiest and most fulfilled people are single and without kids. Just something to think about. Get married and have children because you want to, not because society expects it.
Education Considering a back-to-school stint (снова пойти учиться)? Ask yourself whether you’ll likely learn enough and/or your career will benefit enough to justify the cost, time, and inconvenience. Might you be wiser to forgo (воздержаться) State U let alone Private U in favor of what I call You U: articles and books you’d select, workshops and webinars offered by professionals in your field, and volunteer «apprenticeships» (обучение) with respected people? If you were an employer, mightn’t you consider someone who had forgone the prepackaged State U program for a customized You U education?
If you decide on the traditional U route, look for professors and especially an adviser with a reputation for being transformational, someone whose life lessons remain part of your fabric long after you’ve forgotten everything on the exam.
If you think an assigned paper or project won’t be of sufficient value to you, propose an alternative. Many professors will say yes.
Consider doing an independent study with your favorite professor. Those one-on-one experiences are among the most transformative—and lead to some of the best letters of recommendation.
Parenting Ever-hovering helicopter parents won’t let their kids blow their nose without help. Such parents think they’re doing it for their child’s benefit but, unconsciously, it’s often to make themselves feel needed. It’s usually better to let your kid have a life—even if he does occasionally skin his knee (ободрать колено). Chances are s/he’ll end up more self-assured and less entitled than are helicopter parents’ kids. And you’ll have time to create a life for yourself.
The most stressful part of parenting is fighting with your kid to get him to (insert one or more: clean his room, do his homework, come home on time, stop having sex with his girlfriend: ‘Not»under my roof!» When your kid screws up (напортачить), instead of a confrontation, try Jewish and Catholic parents’ time-honored tactic: invoking guilt. For example, «Johnny, I’m disappointed you didn’t clean your room. You know you’re a more responsible person than that.» Then walk away. Do not delude (delude into sth. — зря на что-то надеяться) yourself into thinking he’ll say, «You’re so right, mommy, I’ll jump right on it.» But you will have sown a seed—Unless your kid is a real hellion (непослушный ребенок), you’ll likely have helped your child become intrinsically motivated to do the right thing. A fight with him is more likely to engender ([ɪn’ʤendə — порождать] a short-term win for you but long-term, a kid who proves that you can’t control him.
Spirituality. The question of whether God exists is irrelevant. If your faith in a higher power gives you comfort, then go speak in tongues, sit in a Shabbat service for three hours, fast from sunrise to sunset for Ramadan’s 30 days. Knock yourself out.
One caveat (предупреждение): Some very religious people wait for God to provide. You must do your part.
Don’t blow off (сбрасывать со счетов) these next two tips because they’re clichés. They’ve become clichés because they’ve worked for so many people.
Be in the moment. I used to always think about what’s ahead. That prevented me from enjoying and making the most of the present. For example, when I was in Paris 40 years ago, I raced through the Louvre in an hour because I wanted to get to the Tuilleries before it closed. I’ve never gotten back to the Louvre.
Break big tasks into baby steps. For example, my wife was intimidated (бояться) by the task of doing her dissertation. She and I taped to the refrigerator a piece of paper with a crude (грубый, простой) thermometer drawn on it, with all the little dissertation milestones listed on the side. Every time, she met one, we colored-in that part of the thermometer tube in red and I gave her a kiss. She finished her dissertation.
Most of us would like to be more productive, to make a bigger contribution, but too often we end up wondering where all the time went. This might help. Sometimes, when I’m considering what to do, I score each option on what I call The Meter: from -10 to +10, where -10 is making things much worse—for example, selling cocaine to children to +10, trying to cure cancer.
So, for example, let’s say, on a Saturday morning, I’m deciding whether to watch TV (a 0—neither helpful nor hurtful) or finish that work project (say, a +4.) Sure, I might decide I need the recreation, and that’s fine. But by making such decisions more consciously, being aware of that moment of truth when I’m deciding what to do next, I more often choose to be productive. Over the long run, that helps me feel better about how I’m living my life.
Lastly, it’s so helpful if you can rid yourself (избавить себя от чего—либо) of your psychological baggage. Sure, you may need years on the therapist’s couch but maybe not. My dad, a Holocaust survivor, rarely talked about it. I asked him why. He stiffened (становиться напряженным, холодным), which he rarely did, and said, «Martin, the Nazis took five years from my life. I won’t give them one minute more. Martin, never look back, always look forward.» I can give you no better advice.
Pick up several phrases and words you would like to invite in your active vocabulary and make up sentences with them. Great if these sentences would somehow relate to each other representing a small text.