Tuesday, February 19, 2013


There are many ways that people laugh. Some have a big deep belly laugh, some have a quiet little titter, often hidden behind a hand. It's circumstantial too. The best joke in the world is cold pancakes with no syrup if there hasn't been any warmup. After that warmup, once you're into the habit, almost anything is funny. The very earliest punchline I can remember is "Please." I often don't have much of a sense of ha-ha, but I was just a kid and I got it.

It's nice listening to people laugh. Really laugh, not the forced laugh that goes onto laugh tracks. The world needs more people enjoying themselves. However, there is one exception to this, and it's like fingernails down a chalk board, only a thousand times worse. Worse than bad rap.

It's teen aged girls giggling and screeching. I get it on the LRT if I leave work mid afternoon. It's a good thing I don't have duct tape in my bag because I'd use it. It's a horrible noise. I don't know why they do it. It's the most profoundly unattractive noise a person can make. Worse than listening to someone vomit. That usually stops fairly quickly, in the great scheme of things. Teen aged girls go on forever.

Maybe they get into the habit and it's self reinforcing, sort of like the audience for a good comedian. Once you start, it's hard to stop. The secret is to harness that, and get into good habits. At work if you get into the habit of logging in, check email to see if anything is actually on fire, then start working on whatever your current project is, it gets easier to get the work done. After you've got some solid chunk of something done, get a coffee or tea, cruise through your email and trash 90% of it. If you get into the habit of just starting, it becomes much easier to start, even if it's a horrible task. Sooner started is sooner ended. The only exception is if they've announced a re-org, and you have reason to believe you're on the hit list.

Workouts are a good habit. If you're in the habit, your body expects you to do it. One day you'll find yourself putting on the right shoes and clothes for the weather outside when you haven't even consciously thought of it. It's just something you do.

Saving money is one of the best habits you can have. As long as you are paying interest to someone or some organization, they own you. Credit card debt is the worst of all. Move heaven and earth to get out of debt. A few years back I took a bit of a risk on a start up company. It lasted about a year and half, then it was a long time till I was working regularly again. We had money saved, and our house was paid off. Our lifestyle didn't change in the slightest. Oh, I guess we started eating better because we didn't eat out as much.

People ask me how to get into better shape. They usually ask about activities, and gyms, and fees. I tell almost everyone that at their stage, all that stuff is bullshit. Signing up for a gym is a waste of money. Before they start working on getting into better shape, they first have to build the habit of working on getting into better shape. Depending on their current level of activity, I tell them to go for a brisk walk every day for a month, rain or shine. It doesn't really matter how fast or how far. It's best if they do it at the same time of day, but not essential. If they do that, I'll talk to them about what's next. If they don't do that, talking to them about fitness is like talking to a eunuch about sex.

Frankly, I'm at the building the habit again, aiming for a more reasonable level. Tonight I was down for 45 minutes of stretching and core. I got some interesting clunk noises from my hips and low back, and all feels pretty good.

I'm building another habit, a daily one. Any guesses?

1 comment:

  1. My children's laughter through the years - from baby giggle to the way they throw their heads back and guffaw until they are nearly hysterical sometimes now - wish I could bottle it up and take a sip when I need to be renewed.

    Trying to build some of the good habits in my kids. We actually tied the regular exercise and money ones together - part of son's allowance is tied to proper saving, charity, saving for big items and 3x/week walks (2 miles) with dad (which has had beautiful consequence of giving them time to share quite conversations together). Still working on some of my habits. No idea what your new one is.


Looking forward to reading your comment!