365 Ways to Stop Being An Idiot! The Holiday Edition


The response to my column last week was off the charts with so many positive comments and more than 50 shares, so I decided to do another edition for the holidays.

There is a saying that we are all experts in something. Equally so, at times, we are all idiots in many more things.

And if you’ve ever been to a bookstore, you probably have seen the series of books called the “Complete Idiot’s Guide to..” whatever. It is a line of how to and other reference books that each seek to provide a basic understanding of a complex and popular topic. Everything complex from how to do your taxes to investing in the stock market to more simple everyday things like car repairs, house cleaning and training a pet.

So, in response, I decided to write a book of how to stop being an idiot. Voilà –“365 Ways to Stop Being An Idiot!” was born. I have scanned the internet for wisdom from the great poets, historic leaders from all religions, energetic storytellers, my favorite movies, standup comedians, TV shows and even my 99 -year-old Aunt Shiffie.

And I  share that wisdom with you as a holiday gift- Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Joyous Kwannza and a Festive Festivus to all.

So for the holidays, here are seven more ways you can stop being an idiot:

#327 Little steps begin in the right direction

Every day you have gazillions of little opportunities to move your life on the path you want it to be. When was the last time you woke up and realized that today could be the best day of your life?

Put your dreams to work today. Take that single baby step forward, and see things crystallize in front of you. Remember, success is something you experience when you act accordingly. Success is not something you HAVE, it’s something you DO.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” –  Buddha

#162  Build relationships on common goals

Two people who want to have a good relationship need to be aware of a basic principle: When each one tries to pull the other to his own direction, there will be conflict and constant quarrel.

But when people focus on their common goals, the differences between them will not cause difficulties, and they will have a peaceful relationship.

Whenever you find yourself about to quarrel with another person, ask yourself, “What goals do we have in common?” This way of looking at the situation will make it easier for you to find a solution that will be satisfactory to both.

“If you want to bring an end to a long-standing conflict, you have to be prepared to compromise.” – Aung San Suu Kyi

#15 Stop procrastinating on procrastinating

What we don’t start today won’t be finished by tomorrow. And there’s nothing more stressful than the perpetual lingering of an unfinished task.

The secret to getting ahead is simply getting started. Starting, all by itself, is usually sufficient to build enough momentum to keep the ball rolling. So forget about the finish line and just concentrate on taking your first step. Say to yourself, “I choose to start this task with a small, imperfect step.” All those small steps will add up and you’ll actually get to see changes fairly quickly.

“You have to be the one setting your own goals, trying to achieve those goals.” – Johnny Bench

#87 Feel gratitude each day

Save this for a day when you feel adventurous enough to try this out. For an entire day, respond to anyone who asks you how you are, “I am full of gratitude today.” The first thought that goes through someone’s mind is usually, “What happened special today?”

This gives you an opportunity to think about what was special today. Each and every day there is always something special to be grateful for. There’s always the fact that this day you are alive. By virtue of being alive today, today is special and you are entitled to be full of gratitude today. Treat each day, each friend as if it’s a gift.

“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” – Maya Angelou

#322 Stop spending time with the wrong people

Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot. Never, ever insist yourself on someone who continuously overlooks your worth. And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.

It’s easy to take friends for granted. But if you want to strengthen your friendships, do the opposite. Think of your friends with gratitude. And then express your gratitude to them in words and deeds. Everyone loves being valued.

“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.” – Dalai Lama

#222 Be Present at this moment now

What are you doing right now?  Consider what you’re doing right at that moment. For most of you, right now, you are reading. Are you just reading? Where are your thoughts? Your emotions? Your hands? Your sense of time? You are reading – that’s it…so just read.

Not being present is easy. There are bills to pay and kids to pick up at school. There are doctor’s appointments and reports to write, books to read, parents to resent, loved ones to miss and the list goes on and on. With all that going on – past and future – it’s no wonder that presence is so elusive. It is not, however, as elusive as you might believe.

“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” – Epictetus

#61 Things change

Embrace change and realize it happens for a reason.  It won’t always be obvious at first, but in the end, it will be worth it.

What you have today may become what you had by tomorrow. You never know. Things change; often spontaneously. People and circumstances come and go. Life doesn’t stop for anybody. It moves rapidly and rushes from calm to chaos in a matter of seconds, and happens like this to people every day. It’s likely happening to someone nearby right now.

Sometimes the shortest split second in time changes the direction of our lives. A seemingly innocuous decision rattles our whole world like a meteorite striking Earth. Entire lives have been swiveled and flipped upside down, for better or worse, on the strength of an unpredictable event. And these events are always happening.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” –  Mahatma Gandhi



Joseph Novick is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.



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Megan Manfredi

Love the advice. I always try to take time this time of year to reflect on my life and take stock in how I can improve for the new year!