#1: Movie Marathons
There’s enough shitty flicks out there to fill every dump-truck in the world to the brim and blast them all to the center of the sun—a most worthy fiery death. That being said, however, there does exist a treasure trove of wondrous films and film series that just never seem to get old. Most of such movies were made before 2000, when writers actually gave a shit and hollywood wasn’t so jacked up on caffeine and cocaine. Those were times when characters shined and became real heroes amidst the backdrop of interesting story lines, where death and sex were carefully used and essential to plot development—not just inserted in order to reach ticket sale quotas meant to satisfy product placement obligations. I’m talking about Indiana Jones, Star Wars (the original releases), the Alien series, and of course, Back to the (motherf*ckin’) Future.
It happens that on days of gloomy weather, my friend and I will get together and chose a predominant film series from the days of glory past, and watch them for hours. The movies, coupled with fine snack food and a few beers, can do wonders to restore balance to the stress:relaxation ratio. Additionally—as far as entertainment dollars go— it’s a relatively cheap form of all-day-entertainment and fun. So if you haven’t had a movie marathon with friends, or if it’s been too long since you could last recite your favorite movie quotes from childhood, it’s time to set a date.
#2 Lone Traveling
People get nervous with this one; they have all kinds of concerns about safety and how to solve unforeseen problems they might encounter should they decide to travel by themselves. You know what I say? STOP THINKING. Problems and difficulties will arise no matter what; in fact, they already do on a daily basis, even in your comfort zone. So what’s going to happen when you encounter them while traveling alone? That’s easy: YOU’LL FIGURE IT OUT WHEN YOU GET THERE.
There’s always an excuse about traveling alone, or even just traveling in general, that prevents people from going for it. If it’s not a lack of money, they’re concerned about how much time they really have to spend; if it’s not about time, they worry about language barriers, food, water, passports, visas (need I go on?) The point is: at any given point you can think of a million reasons NOT to do something. However, the real bitch of that is, if your waiting for things to be perfect, you’ll never do anything. No combination of conditions will ever be perfect….EVER… So if you have just one good enough reason to go (like I’m not going to live forever or I’ve never left my country before) then just do it.
Last week I went to Shanghai alone and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. A week or so prior to going, I sat at my desk in my apartment staring blankly at my computer screen. I was trying to decide whether or not I could get reservations for a flight and hostel together on top of a visa application that needed to be submitted the next day (if I wanted to get the visa in time for my planned vacation week). The issue was that I needed to have the reservations before I could even apply for the visa. It was kind of a high stakes gamble, but also a awesome situation which gave me no way to back out—it was either all the way, or not at all. Even after purchasing the tickets and filling out the visa application, I still had concerns about what I was going to do there; I had never been to China before and didn’t speak a word of Chinese. Yet, rather than dwell on the negativity of unanswered questions, I just ignored them and assured myself that I would figure it all out as I went. (AND BOY WAS I RIGHT) I LOVE BEING RIGHT. As it turned out, I got around the city just fine, saw everything I wanted to, and had one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The true value in traveling alone is the unavoidable self-reliance that emerges from the quiet solitude of being OUT of your comfort zone. Such an experience forces your mind to open and elicits a new perspective on the world, its cultures, and yourself. You find yourself figuring out creative ways to solve problems you’ve never encountered; and, when you do, the reward is 10 fold in the dividends paid out in confidence, experience, and happiness. So, GET THE F*CK OUT THERE ALREADY.
#3 Making Something
Don’t get this confused. This doesn’t mean to say: be an artist, take classes, sell your stuff on eBay and start a second career. This suggestion isn’t about being good at making something. It doesn’t even mean to say that you should try to be good at making something. It means exactly what it says: make something. Really, make ANYTHING. There’s something empowering and satisfying about making something that is your own. People cut themselves down about this; they get worked up about whether or not they posses creativity, or if they are creative ENOUGH. Look, first of all, everyone is creative on some level, and secondly, this isn’t a friggin contest. It’s not about making something to impress others; it’s about making something for the sake of making something (though you might take joy in sharing it with others as well). Most pointedly, I mean to suggest that you make something through such a process that is void of judgement. Suspend your superficial criticism and just make something.
It really can be anything at all. There is no true superficial value in this, so don’t try to find one to justify it. Creating something is both a reward and reason in and of itself. Paint the world from your own mind—no matter how small.
You’ve heard things like this before, but that’s because they’re true. Forget about your cell phone and the internet for one full day. This can be quite the challenge for most people as smart phones have integrated the internet and phone communication together. One of the tricks I’ve found to be sure that your day remains internet and cell phone free is to plan it. Tell your friends and family about your communications free day. Plan some indoor or outdoor activities based on the things you like to do, or a get-together with friends that requires them to meet you face to face. You’ll be amazed at how much more time you seem to have when you’re not glued to a screen or worried about phone messages. Ultimately, you begin to realize how precious time spent outside in the fresh air or with loved ones really is. Although there might be some initial discomfort in being disconnected, once engaged in your planned activities, you’ll find that you easily forget about the digital world once you live your life concretely. To encourage your connection free day, you can turn off your cell phone and unplug your internet and T.V. the night before.
#5 Waking Up Earlier
Sleep is one of the most amazing things ever—especially when done naked. But really, the average person spends way too much time sleeping on the weekends. In fact, I’ve read that anything over 7-8 hours actually shortens your lifespan; ideally people should sleep about 5-7 hours. Look I get it: you’re hungover from Friday night, you’re exhausted from the work-week, and all you want to do is spite your damn alarm clock by sleeping much later than it usually lets you. But ask yourself this question: How often do you feel that the weekend’s too short? If you said “pretty much all the time”, like I know you did, listen up. Challenge yourself to wake up at LEAST the same time you do for work, only this time it’ll be your time.
Nearly every weekend I wake up at about the same time I do for work. Sometimes, I wake up even earlier. The aim really is to give yourself MORE of your own time. Spending most of YOUR time sleeping really isn’t doing much for you when you consider how much time you spend working so that the guy above you gets a fat paycheck and a nice Christmas bonus. And if your sitting there screaming at me through the screen saying, “Dude, F. YOU. That’s what the weekends are for: partying late and sleeping late!” Yea I get that bro. But sacrificing two weekends a month so you can finish that bike ride you’ve been putting off will not only do wonders for your physical health, but also your mental health as well.
Here’s the real trick of it: because you already spend so much time in bed on the weekends, waking up 5 hours earlier essentially makes you a time traveler. If you consider your “weekend” to begin on Saturday at 12pm (the time you usually wake up), but instead, you decide to wake up at 6am, that means you could do 6 more hours of ANYTHING before your “day” even started. Think of all the exercise, reading, meditation, and creative work you could do in 6 hours. But perhaps the greatest advantage afforded to one who wakes up earlier on the weekend is the midday nap. The midday nap is not only shorter than the time you would have wasted by not getting up in the first place, it’s is also nearly as refreshing as birthday sex.