Today’s post was inspired by a very good book called The Humans, by Matt Haig. A deceptively simple story, it’s in fact a powerful reflection on what makes human beings, and the lives we lead, so special, even if we don’t realise it ourselves. The novel is very funny, and equally sad. It makes you think and – hopefully – focus, at least for a while, on the good things that make life worthwhile. Which, as you know, is right up my street.
Towards the end of the novel, there’s a chapter called ‘Advice for a human’. This is a list written for one of the characters by another, and is a brilliant and thought-provoking mix of serious thoughts and lighthearted observations about humanity. It’s the kind of thing you can come back to time and time again, and depending on the kind of day you’re having, different items on the list will stand out. Right now, my favourite is probably, ‘No one will understand you. It is not, ultimately, that important. What is important is that you understand you.’
I love that 🙂
Anyway, inspired by this, I decided to create my own list (although mine has 100 points compared to Matt Haig’s 97, because the thought of an odd number was making me a bit uncomfortable). The following thoughts are all out of my own head – as worrying as that may be – and are just as much for me as for anyone else; in some cases probably more so. I hope you enjoy them, and please let me know your favourites (or disagree with me!) in the comments 🙂
1. You only get one family. Be nice to them.
2. Take photos. They don’t have to be good, they just have to be memories.
3. But on the other hand, don’t spend your whole life looking through a lens. Put the camera down sometimes and enjoy real life.
4. Captain Jack Sparrow is the best pirate, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
5. Spend more time looking at the sky. It’s different every day.
6. Go to the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. Pay the money to go inside, I promise you it’s worth it.
7. Learn a language. Any language.
8. Get up early, not because you have to, but because you want to watch the sun rise.
9. Read books.
10. If something scares you, do it. It means you probably care enough about it that you’ll regret it if you don’t.
11. Say what you think; you only get a limited number of chances.
12. If you can’t do anything to solve a problem, why worry about it?
13. If you can do something to solve a problem, do it.
14. Do nice things for people out of the blue, it’ll make you both feel good.
15. For every situation in life, there is a corresponding episode of Friends, so watch it. It may not help with what’s going on, but at least you’ll have a laugh.
16. A cup of tea makes everything better.
17. There’s nothing wrong with a good rant from time to time, as long as it’s to someone, not at them.
18. Be passionate about something. It doesn’t matter what it is (although it should be legal, ideally).
19. Don’t be rude to receptionists or customer service reps. Chances are they’re as fed up as you are.
20. If in doubt, eat cake while you think things over.
21. Ginger biscuits are the best for dunking. Discuss.
22. It’s better to be single and happy than in a relationship and miserable.
23. Do a job you love. Or at least like.
24. Don’t leave your umbrella on the tube.
25. At the end of every day, think of one thing that made you smile.
26. That thing you’ve always wanted to do? Stop talking and start doing.
27. Go and see The Lion King on stage. The opening scene alone makes it worthwhile.
28. Learn to drive.
29. Get a cat – or, if that seems like too much responsibility, just borrow one from time to time. And then try and resist taking a photo when they do stuff like this.
30. Clear your desk every Friday, it’ll make Monday much easier to deal with.
31. Write to-do lists, just for the satisfaction of crossing stuff off.
32. Be kind – you don’t know what other people are going through.
33. Rescue Remedy will not revive a dying goldfish. Seriously, don’t even try it; you’re just wasting everybody’s time.
34. Be silly. When it’s appropriate, obviously. Not at a job interview or a funeral or anything like that.
35. Don’t dwell on past mistakes. Work on not making them again in the future.
36. Sing like nobody’s listening.
37. Wear what you want to wear. Your style is more important than fashion.
38. Life isn’t a competition, at least not against other people.
39. Show interest in others; you might learn something.
40. Talk to your neighbours. They could be really nice people.
41. In relationships, don’t settle. Everyone deserves someone great.
42. But be open-minded; your perfect partner might not be who you expect.
43. Set yourself goals and reward yourself when you achieve them.
44. Stand up for what you believe in, even if you’re the only one who does. You may make the difference the world needs.
45. There’s nothing quite like the smell of baking bread.
46. Everyone can dance. In their own way. Whatever Craig Revel-Horwood thinks.
47. Have a clear-out of your house once a year; anything you haven’t used in that year will probably be of more use to someone else. Or the bin.
48. Be respectful of other people’s opinions. Otherwise, why should they respect yours?
49. ‘Backpfeifengesicht‘ is the best word. It’s German for ‘a face in need of a fist’.
50. Laugh as often as you can.
51. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, just for a catch-up.
52. Read Pride and Prejudice. Because Mr Darcy.
53. Learn the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’, and ‘there’, ‘they’re’ and ‘their’.
54. Don’t stay late at work. There’s always tomorrow.
55. Yes, you locked the car. You don’t need to go outside at midnight to check.
56. Read about history; it explains how we got to where we are.
57. When Facebook goes down, don’t panic. It will be ok.
58. It is never acceptable to do any of the following on a train: take up your neighbour’s personal space; chew loudly; make everyone listen to your music.
59. Also, it’s frowned upon to pee on the floor. But that one should be common sense.
60. Read the Harry Potter books. Power through the first two, because after that it gets good.
61. Turn off the TV and go outside.
62. Start a blog, about anything you want.
63. Never mix sambuca and beer. It will end badly.
64. Say yes more. Except to sambuca and beer (see above).
65. Choose one or two charities you care about, and support them in whatever way you can. Nobody can help every cause.
66. It’s ok to ask for help sometimes. You don’t have to do everything alone.
67. Set your clocks a few minutes fast in the morning, so when you think you’re running late you’re actually right on time. (Yes, this worked on me. I’m that gullible.)
68. Cyclists, you have to stop at crossings and traffic lights too. Sorry.
69. Be nice to Andy Murray. He’s doing his best.
70. Join a club to meet people who like the same stuff you do. If you can’t find one, start one.
71. Sometimes the only way to get somewhere is to walk through the mud. (Ooh, that was a bit profound, wasn’t it? Where did that come from?)
72. A sunset addiction is much healthier than most other vices.
73. Visit a country you’d never have thought of going to. You may fall in love with it.
74. When you’re stuck in traffic, don’t lean on the horn. It won’t make you go any faster, and just annoys everyone else.
75. As of 2014, it’s not Christmas without racing penguins.
76. Don’t start reading the Game of Thrones books unless you’re willing to give up six months of your life.
77. Learn to swim. If only so you don’t have to spend your life explaining to everyone why you can’t.
78. Never stop exploring, even if you’re close to home. You don’t know when you might discover a hidden gem.
79. Learn a few stock phrases about football, so you can hold your own when required.
80. Join Twitter. You’ll meet some cool people.
81. Smile at strangers. It might brighten their day.
82. On a first date with someone you don’t know very well, don’t commit to longer than an hour. It could get painful.
83. Watch Once. The movie or the musical. Or both.
84. Watch Strictly, not X Factor.
85. You never know when a new opportunity might come along, so don’t stop looking.
86. Visit Dubh Prais in Edinburgh and have the cheesecake. And then bring me some.
87. Listen to David Ford. Especially his last two albums.
88. Embrace your weirdness. If you don’t, nobody else will.
89. When it’s summer, drink Pimm’s.
90. If you go to the theatre, turn your phone off.
91. Make New Year’s Resolutions and tell everyone about them, so it’s harder to back out.
92. Don’t check your work email when you’re at home, no matter how quick and easy it is.
93. Love Actually is the best Christmas movie (controversial, I know).
94. Go to a TEDx event.
95. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re doing life wrong. It’s your life.
96. Try not to overthink stuff. After a while it’ll stop making any kind of sense, like when you stare at a spelling for too long and end up convincing yourself it’s not a real word.
97. If you’re single, don’t be bitter towards people in relationships. It’s not their fault.
98. Once you find the thing you’re good at, do it as much as you can.
99. Be happy.
100. Read The Humans. Matt Haig’s list is much better than mine.