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My Best Advice Is To Not Give Advice

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I like to think I talk a big game. I hope it is such a big game in fact that when people hear me talking they stop and think, “Man, that Flippo. He sure does have it together.” The joke being that I don’t have it together. I don’t have anything even resembling together. What I do have is a loquacious streak a mile wide and a pugnacious vocabulary poised and ready to be unleashed in a whirlwind of verbosity. My plan here is that this big game I talk will act as a sufficient smokescreen for my obvious ineptitudes and self-confidence issues. Because frankly, for all the big talking I do, I end up doing a whole lot of nothing.

The play Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon has a great line that says something like: “There are two kinds of people in the world, watchers and doers. Watchers…watch and doers do!”

It’s funny in context, I promise. Anyway, it is deceptively profound in its simplicity. Or deceptively simple in its profundity. Or profoundly simple in its deceptiveness. Whatever you want to call it, I think it holds true enough to use it as an example. By Neil Simon’s formulation, I would label myself a watcher and not a doer.

Under closer examination I would probably label myself as a watcher, talker, and pointer-outer, because I am fairly accomplished at sitting back and picking apart peoples’ problems/arguments and formulating some sort of response. Or at least a joke. I have handed out my fair share of good advice which people have then turned around and put to good, practical use. My problem is I don’t listen to my own advice.

Which got me thinking. If I consider my own advice to be primarily bullshit, does everyone else who gives advice think the same thing? For the sake of argument, I’m going to say yes. Which made me realize something else. This is bad news considering I am trying to come up with a “Change the World”-worthy idea.

My bout of sudden inspirations didn’t stop there. What dawned on me is that to make the world a better place we probably need a lot fewer people out there giving advice. Because let’s face it; the world could use a lot less hypocrisy. If people stopped going around telling other people how to live their lives then they couldn’t turn around and immediately do the exact opposite, making hypocrites out of themselves. I know I am as guilty of this as anyone else, and perhaps more than some because of my way with words, which makes people tend to listen when I speak or write.

Case in point: so far all I have achieved with this article is the gigantic irony of advising people to no longer give advice. Obviously I can’t even follow my own gosh darn advice and I didn’t even have the decency to wait until my thoughts were completely formulated to become hypocritical.

So here’s the deal. I have already said what I think people should not be doing in order to change the world, but that is a pretty negative way to look at things. Therefore, I give you the positive. What people should do to change the world is exactly this: nothing.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Flippo, you’re stupid. Doing nothing is paradoxical when you are trying to achieve something.”

Nay, says I. Let me explain. One of the big things wrong with the world, and especially the United States, is that people are too stressed. In America it is constantly go, go, go in a never-ending struggle to cram 25 hours of productivity into a 24-hour day. The worst part is that with all the technology available now, cramming an extra hour’s worth of productivity into the day does not even seem that hard; all it takes is finding the nearest wi-fi spot.

The problem is that even with all this productivity, people are still giant balls of stress because there is always more to be done. The stress level of this nation is ridiculous. It is probably responsible for just as many heart attacks as bad cholesterol. Not to mention all the marriages imploding in divorce or the students practically living off of energy drinks and other forms of energy substitutes.

What I think people need to do is take the advice of the band Frankie Goes to Hollywood and just relax. I consider myself to be a pretty chill guy so it bothers me when people can’t be as chill. However, I have taken some time (admittedly not a lot of time) examining what these stress balls of people do differently than I do. What I came up with is that I do a whole lot of nothing and they do a whole lot of not-nothing. Therefore, to be less stressed people need to do less not-nothing and start doing more nothing.

I am fairly serious about this. I think people should make a conscious effort to do a little bit of nothing each day. It does not even have to be a whole lot at first, perhaps just fifteen minutes or so. I believe that fifteen minutes of sitting down, actively doing nothing, and thinking of anything other than all of the things you have to get done, would help.

Of course, too much doing nothing is definitely a bad thing. I learned that the hard way, having to take a summer class to get my GPA high enough to keep my scholarship. So while all these stressed-out people are learning how to be more chill, I’ll be learning how to be more responsible.

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About Robert Flippo