One of our favorite genres of advice is the surprising solution to a big but common problem — guidance that an expert would likely never recommend, because it’s too unorthodox, too personal, too real.
These tips aren’t “hacks.” They’re bigger than that, and involve deep personal change. They represent new ways of relating to the world. And they’re so easy to implement.
“The Video Game That Made Me Better at Marriage,” by Anna Peele
When Peele and her husband started playing a game called Overcooked (that comes free with the purchase of a PS4), they thought they were just passing time. But inevitably, as they tried to make their animal avatars cooperate enough to prepare elaborate meals, problems would arise. And they had to find solutions... together. Peele writes: “Overcooked is the world’s cheapest marital therapy, teaching you that when you encounter difficulty or disappointment, it’s less helpful to yell at your partner for what’s not being done correctly than to clearly communicate and work together to optimally divide duties based on skill and availability.”
“Move Tasks From Your To-Do List to an I-Did List,” by N.A. Turner
To-do lists are helpful, but they’re perpetual. Although certain tasks may get done, the list itself goes on forever. So instead of just crossing out items, Turner started moving those items to a new list: an I-Did list. Every time he completed a task, that task became an I-Did item. And then he could step back and marvel at all he’d done. “Feeling proud of your accomplishments at the end of the day will help you look forward to tomorrow,” he writes.
“The 2-Word Trick That Makes Small Talk Interesting,” by Dave Schools
This trick, which Schools picked up on while listening to podcasters interview guests, will forever change how you approach an awkward conversation at a party. As Schools writes, “We’ve all experienced an interesting conversation with someone we’ve just met — an exchange in which words flow back and forth effortlessly, where both people are fully present and happy to be there... And I had an idea of how to get it.” His tip is deceptively simple, but will change the way you approach small talk.
For more unexpected life-changing tricks, from revolutionary midday baths to the joy of the therapy houseplant, check out This Works for Me.