You gotta love January. Resolutions, reflections, “words,” goals, and all that jazz pepper the social media feeds. And along with it come the myriad of self-help and advice posts.
- 4 Ways to Become a Happier Person
- 7 Things Awesome People Do Every Day (Have you heard? 7 is the magic number to get blog traffic these days)
- 9 Reasons You’re an Awful Parent (OK, not really, but that’s what they mean)
The truth is that most of those posts are absolutely useless. Some authors make entire careers out of writing useless advice. You may even find some absolutely useless advice on this blog. It’s human nature to want to change ourselves, and to try to help others, so here are some ways that you, too, can write a list of useless advice:
1. Tell people what they already know.
Happy people dwell on the positive things in life. So, it’s really that easy? Just think good thoughts? Funny, I was sure that happy people think negative thoughts all day.
2. Make people feel guilty for things that probably don’t matter.
I’m sorry, my kids are not going to be completely ruined because I check my iPhone. I refuse to take on YOUR mommy guilt because you wanted to get it off your chest. Did your parents stare at you every second of your childhood? No? Oh, your parents were doing stuff at home (maybe even on the phone, GASP) while you were riding your bike two miles to the corner store with your friends and then playing in the street until dark? I think my kids will be OK if I check my phone after helping them with their homework for an hour.
3. Share statistics that have no bearing on causation, but sound cool.
“80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls.” OH!! Is that how they become rich? Maybe all those people are so grateful that they send big checks on the wealthy person’s birthday! Wait, does that work for Facebook birthday messages?
4. Tell people to do things that are utterly impossible for them to do.
I could save about $10,000 per year by taking public transportation! That’s awesome! Except I live in rural NC, 15 miles away from anything. No subways, trains, double-decker buses, or trolley cars in sight! My cost of living is significantly lower than you city folk, so there’s that.
Kittens don’t really help people with life-lessons, but they are sure cute! And looking at pictures of them releases endorphins in the brain. I think. Try it and tell me if you feel better:
Number 5 was contributed by Amy Lupold Bair of Resourceful Mommy, who happens to give great advice.
Do you want some really good advice?
As I was writing this post, I happened to head over to my friend Ben Cotten’s blog. I thought he might have something to wrap up this little tirade and turn it into something positive, and he did not disappoint.
Check out A New Year’s Resolve: How People Change: “…if all we do is “think positive” without questioning the quality of the foundation of that positivity, then we end up in delusion instead the kind of lasting change we are seeking.” Oh, yes. That’ll preach.
So can we stop telling each other one-size-fits-all lies in order to make ourselves feel important? I, for one, am going to make that a resolution for 2014. Before giving friends “10 ways to go deeper in prayer,” I might start by asking questions. “What are the barriers you feel toward meaningful prayer?” “What do you feel God telling you to do?” “What would it take for you to do what God is telling you?” “Can I commit to pray for you and follow up to see how you’re doing?”
I’m going to try, will you?