Pretend Your Way to a Better You

You know how there are different stages of life? Some times, for years, everyone is getting married. All of your friends and your siblings, everyone you know is getting married. You spend weekend after weekend going to showers and weddings and bachelorette parties and receptions and sometimes even your own personal wedding. Then that will fade away and then everyone is having babies. Then everyone is buying houses and decorating them. It’s like a wave of priorities that sweeps through an entire peer group and everyone gets caught up in it.

Right now I’m going through a stage of life where everyone I know is into self improvement. Nobody reads novels anymore, they’re so busy reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Who Moved My Cheese?  The majority of my Facebook friends have decided to spend less time on Facebook so that they can pursue careers and get back to personal hygiene. Everybody has taken up running. Everybody.

It’s starting to make me feel inadequate, because I’m actually happy with my mediocre life right now.

However, having said that, I do have some techniques for life self-improvement. And since everyone else seems to be all about living better lives, I thought I would share some of my tips with you. When my life gets out of control with mediocrity and my weird habits run amok, when I have to pull myself together and slap a coat of paint on what I have going on here, I have several ways to step it up a notch.

1. Pretend you’re being stalked

When you’re home alone, instead of picking your nose, walking around in your granny panties and a wife beater, talking to yourself, dipping Fritos in mayonnaise, stuffing the whole cupcake in your mouth at once, and keeping up with the Kardashians, pretend your neighbor (preferably the cute one) is secretly a creepy stalker and has gained unlawful entry into your home when you were out. He put little tiny cameras all over your house. He’s sitting in his basement with 25 TV monitors, watching you.

Thanks to me and this blog entry, he won’t see you being your old, nasty self. He will now see you having a salad for lunch, doing yard work in a top that matches your shorts (yes, there’s a monitor outside, too), listening to classical music, and watching Meet the Press. (You will have to go to the bathroom in total pitch blackness, but it’s a small price to pay.)

You will start to cook healthier and way more gourmet, you won’t let newspapers, mail and old sewing projects stack up in unsightly piles around the house. You won’t spend useless hours on stupid websites or playing Spider Solitaire. You’ll drink better wine and less of it. You’ll be nicer to your husband and kids. You want Cute But Creepy Neighbor to be impressed by you, your marriage, your home, and your parenting abilities.

But what about when you’re away from the in-home TV cameras?

2. Pretend you’re famous

Did you ever wonder why famous people are better than the rest of us? Their shoes match their belt and purse, they’re far more beautiful than we are, they wouldn’t be caught dead in the Dollar Store.

It’s because they’re famous. They know they’re being watched and any misstep can easily be photographed and put on the cover of Star. At parties, everyone’s watching what the famous person is doing, so they never eat the big hors d’oeuvre that will not fit nicely into the mouth, they hold their martini glass just the right way and they hold their stomach in all night.

When you’re out and about, start pretending that you’re famous. Wear sunglasses and choose your outfits wisely. Instead of chewing the sides of your mouth and picking your cuticles during the homily, start paying attention in church. Look attentively at the speaker, wherever you are. Your posture will improve, your hair will look better, you’ll be kinder to people who wait on you (your reputation is at stake, remember), and you will never forget to put on deodorant.

3. Pretend You’re Going to Live to Be 150

This is the exact opposite of other advice. Others will tell you to pretend that you’re going to die tomorrow in order to have your priorities come to life. I totally disagree. How can you become a better person if you spend every day diving out of airplanes, giving away all of your possessions, contacting old people you have wronged and apologizing? I mean, a little bit of that is OK, but you’ll never get any laundry or cleaning done, and you’ll never pay your bills.

Instead, pretend that you’ve just gone to the doctor and he sat you down and told you that after extensive blood work, he’s concluded that you have a rare medical condition that guarantees that you’ll live at least until you’re 150. You and you alone are responsible for living with all the crap that happens between now and when everyone else on the earth is dead. So you better get busy and start making every day count.

Hope this helps. At least until the self-improvement phase is over and the next one begins: Decorating the retirement condo.

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