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Maybe the best kinds friends are the ones you see a few times a year

Photo by Quinton Coetzee on Unsplash

My best friend visited me the other day for the first time in eight months. At my door, we squealed and hugged each other for two straight minutes in a Pfizer-aided joy. Then we proceeded to spend the whole day slowly catching up, with no pressure or performance, ricocheting off one another’s expansive realizations of the last year. It felt amazing — but also like we’d seen each other yesterday.

One of the weird benefits of our pandemic era has been an enforced investigation into what kinds of socialization we all need to thrive. For many, like me, it’s been…

Being kind to yourself is an underrated way to feel more in charge of your life

Photo: Alistair Berg/Getty Images

Have you ever had a stretch of weeks, months, or — god bless you — years where it feels like you’re putting out fires constantly? Like you can’t catch a break? Like the universe is really taking you for a ride?

I realize that, technically, we’ve all been living through that for the past 15 pandemic months. But I’m talking about the mundane things that — when three, four, five of them pile up — really start to test your resilience, sanity, and positive personality traits. An unexpected letter from the IRS. The presence of fleas in the flat you…

What does it mean to plan out our lives in unplannable circumstances?

The last time someone asked me about my five-year plan, I was in an office with too few windows, interviewing for a job that listed one set of responsibilities in the description and a different set in the interviews. I tried not to let it faze me, because the role came with health insurance.

By that point, I’d googled enough examples, filled out enough college applications, and written enough cover letters to be able to succinctly answer t when asked. …

The power of saying ‘You don’t need to respond to this’

Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

Earlier this year, when I had Covid, people naturally checked in on me by text during my illness and recovery.

All of the messages came from a place of caring. But they all kind of stressed me out, too.

I loved receiving and reading the support, but I felt overwhelmed by the expectation, either implicit or explicit, that I respond. How was I feeling, people wanted to know? Too overwhelmed and tired to answer any texts, was the honest answer.

This went on for weeks. It wasn’t until after I felt better that I realized how to avoid inflicting this…

To make your phone work for you, not against you, think like an anthropologist and deconstruct all the jobs you’re asking it to do

Credit: Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

My hands hurt. They’re sore and stiff, and on bad days I can feel a dull ache from my wrist all the way up to the base of my skull. I know what the problem is: Even though I’ve tried to be on my phone less, it’s clearly still too much.

The pandemic has thrown us into a tizzy of endless news-reading, doomscrolling, and social media escapism, without the in-person social norms that used to help regulate our behavior, and the tumult of the election year didn’t help. I also added five months of maternity leave and a texting-while-nursing habit…

The one question you should ask after deciding to make a change

Image: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

I wanted to talk to Trevor Kashey about goals for my book, The Comfort Crisis, because he seemed so good at achieving them. He had enrolled himself in college at age 14 and gotten his PhD in biochemistry at 23 before becoming a cancer researcher. Now, he runs a successful nutrition consulting company, where he’s helped thousands of people lose hundreds of thousands of pounds.

But Kashey didn’t want to talk about goals. In fact, he said, he hated the concept.

“Goals feel good to set, but they’re just a diversion,” he told me. “People face no consequence if they…

Photo: Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images

Despite knowing that most New Year’s resolutions end in failure, it’s hard to resist the urge to suddenly “improve” myself every January. You’d think I’d know better, especially as someone who works at Forge. And yet, I sort of believed that in 2021 I’d not only become devoted to exercise—in my mind, the worst activity imaginable—but that I’d seamlessly transform into a runner during the darkest, coldest time of the year. Running seemed easy and free and like I could do it whenever, and thus, a good fitness thing (is that what they are called?) to try.

So far, I’ve…

Father loading dishwasher as son watches.
Father loading dishwasher as son watches.
Photo: DGLimages/Getty Images

I’m about to change your life: When loading the dishwasher, sort the silverware as you load. Putting away the clean utensils will be a snap. Oh, and get a sock bag for your laundry — it’ll make folding the laundry so much simpler. Or how about freezing herbs into ice cubes, for instantly fancy cocktails?

Shortcuts are like tiny gifts for your future self, and that’s something we could all use more of these days. As Thomas Smith writes in the new Debugger series on optimizing everything in your life:

A good shortcut isn’t about cheating your way out of…

Change is inevitable, so focus on what you can control

Mother with child looking out window at twilight.
Mother with child looking out window at twilight.
Photo: d3sign/Getty Images

We tend to live under the illusion that things are stable — and that when they aren’t, it’s a disruption from the norm. If the chaos of 2020 (and, so far, 2021) has thrown any truth into focus, it’s how much we crave a straight line. An orderly progression from point A to point B.

But really, as I tell my coaching clients, the norm is that things are always changing. There is no straight line. For better or worse, our lives move in cycles:

  • Order → disorder → reorder
  • Orientation → disorientation → reorientation
  • Integration → disintegration → reintegration

Don’t buy into the cold-weather/warm-weather binary. There is only outside.

Photo: bluecinema/Getty Images

Winter is coming, and like seemingly every other aspect of life this year, the coronavirus is turning it upside-down. Normally, mid-November is when we start worrying about having to go outside. Now, we’re worried out about having to stay in. And with good reason: The prospect of being cooped up till spring is depressing, even frightening. My wife and I just panic-bought a rowing machine.

But here’s the truth: The colder months, the next few months especially, are when we need to go outside the most. (Let’s start with our Thanksgiving celebrations.) Not just because being outdoors has numerous health…


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