A life worth living takes time and energy. While there’s no magical cure-all to fixing one’s future, there are certainly little ways to make it less scary. These Redditors shared the tiny changes that made a big difference in their overall well-being. From the tiny savings to little refusals, there’s no shortage of ways a slight act can make a big impact. Get ready for these surprising stories of people changing their lives for the better in one small act.
1. An “A” for No Effort
I stopped giving a darn at work. Literally stopped giving 110% and started to give maybe 50%, and no one gave a darn and my evaluation stayed the same. I guess one day I figured that finance can wait another day to get the report, but my child will remember me playing Monopoly with him on Wednesday night.
2. Let It Go to Voicemail
Putting my phone down when I’m with people. Just be in the room. Eat, drink, talk, be available to the people around you. Allow little silences to settle in because really, they’re just moments of thought, and they inevitably lead to deeper conversations. Even in the time it takes the kettle to boil, just being present where I am has made my life better.
3. Let’s Meet Again
Telling my wife, after a rough time between the two of us, that I really wanted to have a wild, exciting affair and I’d prefer it be with her. That was about 25 years ago. Turns out we have a lot more fun treating each other like lovers than we did as spouses. Also? Getting a Fitbit. That’s really motivated me to walk more. So, there’s that, too.
4. The Robot Takeover Is Welcome In This House
I got a robot vacuum. My wife and I are very bad at keeping up with household chores. Coming home to a freshly vacuumed house everyday is amazing and it helps motivate us to keep the rest of the house clean.
5. Understand the Weight of Your Words
I used to always say “no problem” when people asked me to do things. Then, I overheard a conversation about how using negative words (both “no” and “problem”), despite meaning that I would do whatever they needed help with, might cause negative thoughts in other people subliminally, and they would then tie that to you.
Even if they don’t realize it, they have negative emotions and thoughts when they think or see me. So, I changed to saying “Sure thing” when people would ask me to help them with stuff. Night and day difference, people.
6. Some Love is Worth the Investment
12 years ago, out of boredom, I paid $5 for a premium Hot or Not account that allowed matches and messaging. A few minutes later, I clicked Hot on this girl and almost immediately got a notification that she did the same to me. So, I took the chance and sent her a message. We’ll be married 10 years in April and have two amazing kids.
All because of a bored whim.
7. Be Willing to Get Called Out
Friend of mine once called me out for bullying—nothing loud or public, but she pulled me aside and said a few quiet words about how she was disappointed about the way I acted. “I know you’ve got a better heart than that. You should show people, I think they’d like you better,” she said. Blew my mind and got me to meaningfully think about the people around me—which, as many of you know, isn’t easy for a high school athlete.
8. Know Your (Credit) Limit
A secured credit card with a $300 limit. When I got out of the Army, my credit was a mess. Couple years later I decided to fix it, starting with the secured card. Only used it for gas and paid it off every month. Fast forward another five years and I have a decent score, high available limits on multiple cards, a good rate on a car loan, and I’m almost ready to buy a house.
9. Apples are Nice, But Don’t Keep the Doctor Away
Going to the doctor early. Lump felt like barely anything, but I worked up the courage to ask the doctor if he could check it out. That led to a second opinion, surgery, and no more cancer within three days. Waiting longer could have led to months of chemo or worse. Get to know your body (what normal feels like) and check yourself, boys and girls.
This happened when I was 24, in the US. A year before getting dropped off my parent’s family insurance plan, which saved me about $12,000. I realize that was an extremely fortunate situation compared to basically the rest of the US. Since some asked, it was about half the size of a pea, and difficult to feel through the skin.
Got a physical exam, then an ultrasound. Surgery went in through my abdomen and removed the entire left testicle just to be safe. I’ve had follow-up imaging done of my abdomen to be sure it hasn’t come back since. After surgery recovery, sex is no different than before and you only need one to be fertile. I stopped noticing anything different after a year.
Getting checked was scary/embarrassing but the best decision I could have made. Peace of mind or treatment is way better than embarrassment or death.
10. Follow the Beat of Your Own Drum
Music. My friends and other people in high school told me that joining band and marching band in senior year would be my biggest mistake and regret. Turns out that it’s the reason why I’m going to miss high school so much once I graduate this year. Now it’s my biggest passion, brings me joy, and I learned to listen to practically every genre there is.
Point is, find something that you think you might like. Try it once consistently, meaning don’t just try it one day and throw it away, try it for a week or something to actually determine whether you like it or not. It might end up changing everything. I tried music and it is something that I have nothing bad to say about.
So much that I’m planning to continue music in some way during college and even as an adult.
11. Have a Ball
I love playing basketball. I joined a gym with a basketball court so I could play whenever I wanted. I go in every morning and play. Go back sometimes in the evening and play with whoever is there. High school kids, old dudes, dudes that can’t play. I don’t care—I love basketball. I’m 44 and it’s one of the first times in my life I’ve done something for me because I love it.
Maybe basketball isn’t your thing. That’s not my point. Find something you love and do it. Do it because you want to. Do it for fun. Keep it fun. Find others who do it too. It doesn’t matter who they are, just enjoy what you’re doing with others.
12. A Tag By Any Other Name
I started to pay attention to peoples’ name tags. It started to matter to me that I thanked “Tom” for his great service. That I thanked “Cassandra” for her help checking out my groceries. That “Toni” was there to answer my questions, or that “Gladys” showed up at 5 AM on a cold morning so I could have a coffee on my way to work.
Paying attention to name tags led to me paying better attention to peoples’ names when they told them to me. Like they were trusting me and inviting me into their lives in some small way. That they cared that I knew who they were, and I recognized that there was responsibility in that. So, over time, this made me a better listener in general, which takes practice.
Pretty soon, it started to matter to me that I was a listener and not a wait-to-talker. It started to matter to me that if I had something to say, that I better have good reasons to say it. And so, it then mattered to me that I had good reasons and good information which informed my beliefs, which led to it REALLY mattering to me that I was literate and adept in the tools of skepticism and to always remember, perhaps assume, that I could be wrong.
To question what I took for granted was true, be willing to change my mind and assess my opinions/stances with a confidence derived from why and how I believed what I believed. It became very important to know how to best determine true things from false things, to believe that which is true and discard that which is false.
Forget for a moment that this has revolutionized my personal ethical and existential philosophies, on paper, it has led me to pursue and achieve a master’s degree in science education and empowered me—a self-described prolific procrastinator—to complete a formal master’s thesis and publish articles. So thanks, name tags!
13. Man’s Best Friend
When I was about 10 years old, my parents and I were in our backyard clearing out a ton of weeds that had gotten out of hand. I had trouble focusing because our next-door neighbor had this really adorable puppy and all I wanted to do was play with him. We found out that they were actually going to take him to an animal shelter because their son was not taking care of him as he promised.
I decided to ask my parents if maybe we could get him instead. I was an only child and never really have anyone to play with unless a friend would come over, and the thought of having a puppy to play with whenever I wanted to was great. My parents agreed and our neighbors offered to sell him to us for $20. I had that saved up and immediately agreed and promised I care for him and love him forever.
So, he became my puppy, my brother, and after a few days of debating, I named him Snoopy. Snoopy became my closest friend. He made me laugh, played with me, and would just hang out and watch TV with me. He was always there for me, especially through some tough times in my life where I was extremely self-destructive. He saved me from myself.
He was there at my side through tough breakups where all I ever wanted to do was lay in bed. He was an amazing friend. He was there to see me graduate eighth grade, high school, and college. I hoped he would be there on the day I got married and maybe be around for when I had kids, but unfortunately, as much as we wish for things, sometimes they don’t happen.
Today is the four-year anniversary of his death after being by my side for almost 17 years. That little ball of fur made such a huge impact on my life bringing me years of happiness, friendship, and love. Even though I’m sad he’s gone, I’m grateful to have had him in my life.
14. You’re Not Going Anywhere
I told myself to stop being so damn sad. Mind you I still (and always have) struggled with depression and am not at all claiming to have found a substitute for therapy or medications, but the last year was worse than most and I wanted to die. A lot. One day I decided that wasn’t going to happen. I wasn’t going to leave my family grieving or give the people who hurt me the satisfaction.
Also, I’m simply too curious about the future to go. I was still sad though, because my brain kept repeating “I want to die,” and I told myself since I’ve decided to live, it’s time to cut that voice out. Someone once told me you can have any thought in the world and it’s simply not your fault what pops into your head. But after three seconds, you own it; you’re entertaining that thought.
So, every time the desire to die came up I said, “But you’re not, so freaking forget about it.”
15. Why Stay Down When You Could Push Up?
I started going for walks and doing pushups when I felt overwhelmed. Now I’m in the best shape of my life and I go to the gym five days a week. It’s given discipline, self-confidence, and helps regulate my mood. It has led me to be more conscious of what I eat and makes me get enough sleep. It really helped me discover my love for exercise.
16. It Starts With A Look™
Spending more time to put an effort into my appearance. Not only does this affect the way people see you, but also the way they talk to you and are usually more open. Part of this might just be from a confidence boost. For example, I used to really only have one or two good friends in my high school but then BAM, summer comes and I cut my hair, iron my clothes, and buy better/cleaner outfits and more people are talking to me, more people, in general, are just willing to be seen with me.
17. There’s a Reason It’s Called an “Ex”
To be completely honest. it was cutting off my ex completely. Even though she broke up with me, she wasn’t able to let me go or accept me back and it just kept hurting the both of us. But as time went by, I lost that need to rely on her emotionally like I had before. And I’ve started fixing other parts of my life that I had set aside for the relationship I had with her.
18. Keep Calm and Carry On
Meditation. My wife introduced me into meditation, now I’m doing for like 20-30 minutes per day, and my life is so much better. I lost most of my negativities, my ego is shrinking, and our loud arguments now became conversations, and our relationship is better all around.
19. A Few Minutes Can Mean Kilograms
I committed to spending five minutes a day for 100 days using a food and exercise tracking app. The measuring has caused me to cut back on bread and soft drinks and adding in three gym sessions a week, I have gone from 91kg to 82kg (that’s 200 lbs. to 180 lbs. for the USA). I am constantly getting comments that I look 10 years younger.
20. Never Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Going to a mental health professional. It’s not just like sitting on a couch and paying someone to listen to your rambles. If you end up with an excellent therapist, s/he can really help in dealing with your hang-ups and mental issues using scientifically proven methods. And sometimes, it’s not even your brain that’s the problem—it can be the people around you that are causing you mental torment.
A good therapist can help identify those people and help you deal with them. If you think that you need to go to a mechanic when your car breaks, then you should also consider going to a mental health professional when your brain needs rewiring.
21. Early to Rise, Early to Grind
Waking up at 4:30 am. I realized that after work, the end of my day was the least productive. So, I took that time and moved it to my morning. Now I wake up and do productive things before I even start work and never am in a rush. I take the first 30 minutes to get my coffee and browse a little Reddit while waking up, then start my day.
It’s really hard to justify watching TV at 4:30 am.
22. A Little Piece of String Can Make a Big Difference
Flossing my teeth. I finally started taking dental care seriously when I became independent from the parents which also meant I was paying more than I knew. Deep cleaning was really expensive, and they told me to floss daily. Been doing that for six months now and it’s made a huge improvement from how bad it was before
23. DIY Mindfulness
One small thing that changed me for the better would be the habit-forming and behavioral/cognitive implementation of mindfulness and basic meditation into your everyday life. You don’t need to be led to a mountaintop by a shaman to meditate in a basic way, reap the benefits of such, and be more mindful in your everyday life.
Plus, it helps deal with stress in a healthy (and free) way. It just takes effort—which for many, is the toughest asking point. There are some modern tools useful in the application of such; namely, the utility of podcasts and apps on our phones. With the help of these, we can get some assistance in learning how to be more mindful and utilize something like meditation in 2019.
Personally, I use one called Headspace—super simple stuff here, but it definitely has helped me. I also like Sam Harris’ podcast, so I tried out his app too (Waking Up). I haven’t used it as much, but so far, I definitely enjoy it as well. Would recommend, if you want to learn the basics of mindfulness and meditation without it being abstract or scary.
By working these exercises into our daily routines, we can learn to be more mindful, and learn more adaptive ways to cope with life’s small, but consistent, stressors.
24. Why Do Tomorrow What You Can Do Now?
Use the two-minute rule at work. Can also be one- or five-minute rule depending on what job you have. Everything that can be done in two minutes, do it immediately. I get a lot of questions daily; some can be done fast. Plan the longer ones for later. Don’t need to keep looking at a list and wondering where to start or how to get it done.
Helps me to keep focus, clear my head and work efficiently.
25. Just Say “No”
I started forcing myself to say “yes” whenever asked for something. I was extremely depressed so anytime someone asked me for help or to go out I would immediately say no and just stay at home alone. Now I say yes, within reason, and have found that helping others gives me so much satisfaction and has helped pull me out of my depression.
26. Always Look on the Bright Side
Making a conscious effort to try and be more positive. I’m quite cynical, and I’ve recently tried to be optimistic/positive rather than leaping to the worst conclusions. I do this by making a list of potential solutions when I have a problem rather than just dwelling on the fact it happened. If I’m having a bad day and people ask how I am, I don’t reel off all the bad stuff—I just say I’m not having a great day, but I think it’ll get better and ask how they are instead.
I pick out good things and try to learn from stuff when it goes wrong rather than just feeling I failed. It’s been quite tough, but I do feel happier and more hopeful. It’s not a fix-all for all my problems but it’s really helped adjust my attitude
27. No Shame in a Half-Full Plate
This might sound a little strange, but eating smaller portions for dinner. For some reason, I grew up thinking I had to eat everything on my plate, but when I eventually stopped that habit, I ended up not only losing some unnecessary weight, but also went to bed feeling a lot less bloated.
28. It’s the Little Things That Shouldn’t Bother You
A great quote gave me a new insight on my day to day activities. Let’s say you have a bank account with $86,400 in it. And someone was able to steal $10 out of it. Would rather, spend the rest of the $86,390 just to get the $10 back? Or just let the $10 go. There are 86,400 seconds in every day. Don’t let someone who ruins 10 seconds of your day, ruin the entire day for you.
29. Don’t Sleep In It
Making my bed every day. Unless I had something to do that day, I would usually lay in bed for several hours until I got bored of Reddit. In February I decided to start making my bed every morning and it’s made me a way more productive person.
30. Life is Easier in Thirds
Actually, I have three. They came to me a long time ago in the 1980s when I was doing my master’s degree work. The professor cited a 1981 study by Susan Kobasa. You could probably read it for yourself but here’s how he summarized it: People in high-stress jobs got sick less if they did three things.
The first was to know your job requirements and do them, only taking on more if it will be enjoyable. Example: They need someone on the safety committee. You are not interested. You do not volunteer or allow yourself to be pushed into it. They need someone on the holiday party committee. You love holidays. You volunteer.
The second was to do your work at work and your home at home. Don’t take work home. Stay at work until you are done. This had made a huge difference for me, a teacher. When I got home, even if it was late, my wife and kids knew I was totally available to them and would not start demanding they leave me alone so I could work.
The third is to adopt an internal locus of control. You are responsible for your life. No one holds a gun to your head and makes you work anywhere. You don’t like it, find another job. You hate your life, move somewhere else and start over. Even the things we cannot control, like, say, cancer, we do decide how to respond. Either we will fight it or not, for example.
Every bill you have, you chose that. You signed up, you signed the lease, you requested the service, etc. You are not a victim. In the cases where you ARE a victim, you decide how to respond. Do you press charges? Do you carry a grudge? Do you seek revenge? Do you forgive? You are in control of your life. Now I’m 63 years old.
Taking those three principles and making them real have helped me have a very good life, despite the bad things that have happened along the way.
32. Get Out of Your Shell
Getting out of my apartment at least once a week. At 23, I was living alone while working 40 hours a week, doing nothing with my free time except stuff on my computer. Week in, week out, go to work, come home, perpetually without much of anything to break the monotony. When I started finally going to meetups in my area—it took me the greater part of a year to actually go to one because I was so nervous about going to one—it helped so much.
Some people are okay with their solitude and that’s fine, but I’d highly recommend making yourself get out and socialize with people at least once a week. I can’t even begin to describe how horrible a feeling it is to “look forward” to the weekend and then just do nothing for those two days. I started feeling guilty about how little I did with my free time.
Thankfully, boredom and loneliness eventually got me to be more adventuresome.
33. Don’t Have a Cow
I stopped eating dairy. Much less bloated, poops are regular and healthy, much more energy. Sometimes it’s hard because cheese is delicious, but I feel much better overall. Another simple in theory change: I got a dog. It’s not so simple after because it’s a lot of work, but she gets me walking three or four times a day, she’s the cutest thing ever, and generally makes me happy.
I’m more active, it forces me to talk to people on the street which helps push me out of my comfort zone, and all of this helps manage my depression.
34. It’s as Simple as Homework
I was a divorced single mother with two babies at the age of 22. I didn’t even have a high school diploma. With work and dedication, I studied for the GED, enrolled in community college, and worked nights to compete an A.S. Degree in the Healthcare field. 15 years after I graduated, I was earning over a 100K a year, and owned my own home. I shudder to think where I would be without education.
35. Bibliography Is Next to Happiness
Taking a book with me to work. Not only do I read more, but it’s always a great conversation starter. By carrying it, instead of putting it in my bag, it has allowed me to significantly network more with people. It’s a great ice breaker, and I feel smarter too, as I am learning more each day. Currently on my third book for the year—which is pretty good for me!
36. Why Drink When You Could Game?
My computer. I used to go to the bars to hang out and blow all my money on booze. Really bad habit. So, I built a budget gaming computer for $400 and upgraded from there. I hang out with my friends from out of town on Discord and we play BRs. I spent probably $2,000, but it’s saved me probably $10,000 and allows me and my best buddy (one of the out of town guys) to hang out a few times a week.
I would ring up $30-$50 bar tabs, sometimes worse once or twice a week. That stuff really adds up. You never get your money’s worth.
37. The Best Meal is the One You Can Teach to Others
Meeting my mentor. It should have been a simple transaction. I was manager of the seafood department at an upscale grocery store. She came looking for squid; which I didn’t have available. Instead of that being the end of our interaction, we struck up a nice bit of chatting. As she was wearing a chef coat with the emblem of the college she teaches at, I commented that, “If you need another teacher, give me a shout; I’ve always wanted to be a teacher” when she said good-bye.
She asked for a quick synopsis of my qualifications and, after, asked that I send her my resume. Almost two months after sending her my resume, I heard back from her. She was letting me know that I qualify to teach collegiately. I had never expected that. She also told me that my two new classes would start in three weeks and I needed to prepare syllabi and lesson plans. SURPRISE!
But I was able to eek it out. That was almost five years ago. After four years as an adjunct professor, I am in my second semester as a full-time instructor. I absolutely LOVE my new career. I love being able to spill out 30 years’ worth of information gathered to willing recipients. I love watching my students grow and become everything they ever longed to be.
What I love MOST is getting updates from them on their current adventures. One will be on ‘The Great Food Truck Race’ next season and one is cooking on a research vessel in the Antarctic – among many other adventures. And my mentor nominated me to be honored as a “Best Chef” in our state. This honor from the American Culinary Federation is making me realize that I am having the positive impact that I always wanted for my life.
38. Help Comes from the Strangest Places
LSD. I didn’t reflect back on myself honestly until about the third time I took it. Not every time you will learn and have a revelation. It is dependent on the amount you take and state of mind. I was in a really rough spot while in university. All my life I’m just coasting along not trying my best and as well as being depressed.
LSD provided a therapeutic mental state for myself to look at my own behaviors. I had gone into an irrational thought loop where I thought to myself, “I am worse than useless and my influence on people were just better if I hadn’t had any chance to influence anything.” At the time I was majoring in social work, so it was pretty important for me to be able to influence others as it was part of the job.
But at the same time dealing with things myself how could I advocate for others and improve their lives. So, here I am at the end of the “trip.” I’m laying down with my eyes closed with my thoughts. My friend is laying down probably sleeping or thinking as well on the other couch. This is where I’m thinking about my behaviors.
I was recently broke up, by my choice, so I was kinda down because there were feelings still there but ultimately just not a good fit. I’m also thinking about my relationship with my parents. It’s not great, we have a poor communication relationship and my only reason to be in university was for them. I understood they want what is best for me but it’s hard to stay motivated when it’s not for yourself directly and taking classes with stupid professors isn’t my idea of learning.
I’m also thinking about my behaviors as I have done nothing great really. I’m basically failing half my classes as coasting was no longer good enough. It got me through high school easily but not here when I had to be responsible. I reached the end of the line with negative thoughts: “I’m not stupid but I’m failing out of school.” “I don’t hate my parents, even though we don’t have a good relationship. They are supporting me financially.” “I want to love someone and experience love. But every time I try, I end up hurting someone or myself.”
This all led to the idea I was better off dead. “Is this it then?” I told myself. Here I am laying in the dark, it is 6 am on the first day of the year. I’m just weighing the pros and cons of my life. Evaluating if my time on Earth and my contribution to society would be better if I died and did less damage. But I don’t want to die it also causes great harm.
It was at this moment I had to decide. I had decided if coasting was gonna be it, which meant I’m better off driving my car off the road and ending it. Or, being an active human being and taking responsibility. I choose to live and get out this hurdle of university life. Took me two extras years and change from criminal justice to social works, but I graduated.
I was given the knowledge and ability to change my life I think, or maybe I’ve always had it. But I never thought to flip the switch on until LSD. Could I have done it later in life and without the assistance of LSD? Sure. That night I was to either plan out my death or my life. I told myself I’m not stupid, so why am I not graduating already.
It’s a waste of time and money from my parents and myself. I told myself I’m going to start taking school seriously. Start studying for exams and being prepared by knowing when exams are. Before that I would stay up late and get two to four hours of sleep before classes. So, I was not retaining information or recognizing the dates.
I knew what day it was but never the concept of in two weeks we have an exam. But through LSD I recognized my problems and I was able to plan and tell myself what needed to change and how to grow. The following semester I made the Dean’s list. It still doesn’t mean anything to me but hopefully, it’s a good measurement for the readers.
It wasn’t until my senior level courses that I learned about neuroscience and I was creating new neural connections in my brains literally. At the same say but different semester, I learned j have basically practiced cognitive behavioral therapy on myself. It wasn’t textbook CBT, but it was what worked for me. I’m currently applying for a masters in social work.
I want to run for a government office, I want to do natural based and horticulture-based therapy. If I’m lucky enough I want to work with people that want to try psychedelics. Two little squares of LSD soaked paper did this. And it is wonderful. It’s a great time for recreational use as long as your respectful and safe about it.
Many people try to abuse things and it hurts the image of some really beneficial things out there.
39. A Fatherly Wake-Up Call
My dad calling me out for my bull when I was 12. I was the worst child you could think off, needy, loud and a major jerk to people, including my parents. My mother was a tough love kind of person; she would yell and hit me and my sister if we would disobey, but my father would always be on my side, so I usually depended on him.
But he was too nice, he would buy things and would always be with me, but I slowly turned into a needy jerk as months passed. I would always ask him for stuff I wanted, to stick with me, and to check with me every night. The brattier I was, the more stressed out he got over the years, but I’ve always taken my parents for granted, and could have honestly cared less back then.
But one night I wanted him to do stuff for me, and he didn’t have the time for it, but I constantly bothered him and yelled at him. Eventually, he got so pissed to the point where he did a ten-minute rant yelling and screaming about how awful I was and will get nowhere in life by the way I was acting. He told me how hard he and my mother worked to keep my sister and I alive and left for the night when he finished talking.
I was speechless and went to sleep afterward. The next day, he drove me to school and talked to me like last night ever happened. I got better grades, became a nicer person, and generally happier about how things were going. I went out more with family and friends and had generally good times.
40. Your Times is Like a Pie; Divide it Wisely
Oddly enough, something I saw on a board about life hacking tips turned out to be enormously useful to me: dividing my hours of the day into 20-minute and 40-minute blocks. Set a timer for 20 minutes, spend that entire 20 minutes dedicated to cleaning, doing a chore, or otherwise being productive, and then set a timer for 40 minutes that I spend however I please.
Rinse and repeat at will. This has been helpful because I suffer from major depressive disorder and was also raised by someone who has hoarding tendencies and doesn’t clean beyond subsistence levels (for example, they would do a load of dishes, but never cleaned the sink or wipes the counters. That kind of thing).
All that combined makes me really struggle with keeping house and doing necessary things that should be cleared out regularly, little things like shredding all those “you are pre-approved for a credit card” junk letters, washing all the dishes during the day before making more dirty dishes at dinner, you get the picture.
I wasn’t raised to do it, and my nature is to do literally anything else. The 20-minute task blocks keep me from getting overwhelmed by otherwise overwhelming tasks, and the 40-minute “me” time blocks make me value that time all the more than when I am just loafing around indefinitely. Yesterday, two 20-minute task blocks translated to completely clearing the dirty dishes, deep-cleaning my rice cooker, organizing and sanitizing the counter beside the stove, cleaning and organizing the bathroom sink cabinet, and ditto for the toiletries/medication shelf.
It was a great eye-opener to see how much I can get done in a really short amount of time, and very encouraging.
41. Turn the Grammar Towards Yourself
Unfollowed a lot of people on Instagram. I’ve suffered with an eating disorder for going on eight years, and I finally unfollowed all of the super skinny girls from my high school. It’s better for me to just follow people I genuinely care about or pages that make me happy. Minimizing the chances for me to compare myself to others was a great way to aid my recovery!
42. Don Draper is Quaking in His Boots
Got rid of terrestrial TV. No live channels, just Netflix/Prime/YouTube and installed an adblocker on all my browsers. I almost never see advertising anymore and it’s done wonders for my anxiety and general mental wellbeing. It really hammered home just how manipulative the marketing industry is and it saves a ton of bandwidth.
43. Blood Isn’t Everything
My story isn’t that uncommon. I have young parents, they were 18 & 19 when I was born. They got married because they got pregnant and got divorced because they got pregnant and married. They just weren’t ready and way too young. It sucked. Eventually, my dad left the picture altogether, and my mom remarried. She dated this guy since I was 5 or 6, really young.
They got married when I was 9. He raised me. He’s my “true” dad. This seems to be rather common among people my age (23, almost 24). Then my mom and stepdad got divorced when I was 18. It was awful. Much worse on me than my biological parents’ divorce. I was so young when they got divorced (2 years old) and then I gained another “dad” pretty soon afterward—my stepdad.
When my mom told me that they were getting divorced, I was terrified. I’m an only child, I live in a relatively small town, and this all happened at the beginning of my senior year in high school. I didn’t know who would move out and where I would end up. They would fight all the time. For some reason, they’d wait until I went to bed and then start screaming at each other. I remember one night I heard something like this:
Stepdad: “Get your stuff and leave.”
Mom: “But where am I supposed to go? What about my daughter?”
Stepdad: “I don’t give a DARN where you go, but OUR daughter is staying right here at home. With me.”
At first, I was a little pissed that he thought he could make that decision for me, but after I thought about it for a bit, I realized the gravity of that sentence. It was the first time I had heard him refer to me as his daughter. I still call him by his first name. Old habits die hard, I guess. And really…the main cause of tension between them was money related.
He knew that and knew he’d be able to provide for me better than her. My mom is the most irresponsible person I’ve ever met when it comes to money. She got my first car repossessed (I was “paying” for it. As in, I’d give her the money and assume she was making the payments. Nope. Pocketing that stuff. She also wrote thousands of dollars’ worth of hot checks to my place of employment, using my employee discount and my checks!
I was a minor, so she legally had to be on my bank account. I barely got away with keeping my job. There’s more, but that’s a different story for a different time. Long story short: my mom and I didn’t have the best relationship anyway. Months later, my mom was making plans to move in with my grandma in the neighboring “city” and was going to uproot me and transfer me to a new bigger school.
During Christmas break of my senior year…ugh. I told her that I wanted to stay with my now ex-stepdad. She didn’t know I had heard what he said that one night. She couldn’t believe I was choosing him over her. Also, when I was 19, I still didn’t have a car and my boyfriend at the time was driving me around everywhere…and his grandma had an old 1991 Cadillac DeVille she wanted to sell.
So, my ex-step-dad gave me $2,000 cash and told me to go pick it up. He just gave it to me. No questions asked, no expectation of payback. I still live with him rent-free, as long as I keep a job and stay in school and pay my own bills: new car payment (the Cadillac was awesome but just not cut out for driving all over the place in super-hot summers and a few pretty brutal winters.)
Car insurance, cell phone, etc. I think this has helped me be more responsible with money (definitely something I wouldn’t have learned with my mom) Anything I want I have to pay for myself, but I don’t have to pay for a roof over my head or a bed to sleep in or a shower to use. All because a man who had no legal or genetic responsibility to me took me in anyway, and fought to keep me when my mom left.
I get to experience his generosity every day, and I’m grateful for having him in my life every day. My ex-stepdad is the greatest man alive. Be jealous.
44. Can’t Put a Price on Education
On September 14th, 1986, my dad dropped me off at boarding school and gave me a five-dollar bill. I never heard from him again. He never paid my tuition bill. So, from the age of 14, I took every job I could get and worked my way through. At $4 an hour, I didn’t even come close to paying off my entire bill, but the school let me stick around because I was a model student in and out of the classroom.
We get to graduation. I opened my little diploma thing expecting to see a bill in five figures. Instead there was a note: “Congratulations on your graduation. A group of us who believe in you and love you have taken care of your bill. We are proud to present you with your diploma.” I later found out that one of my friend’s dad, a fairly well-off dentist, went fundraising among his golf buddies because he didn’t want to see me enter life at 18 under crushing debt.