It occurs to me that every question has already been asked. Just recently I’ve asked the internet a range of questions on very different topics and found that someone has already asked all of them. People might not have used the same wording but they were seeking the same answers. Does this mean there’s no such thing as original thought? There’s a research project for you. Please let me know your findings.
Feeling rather blobby, I typed “how to be your own personal trainer” into the interwebs. Many people have already asked this question and even more people are happy to answer it. (Note to self: probably would have been better to go for walk instead of sitting in front of computer.) In a nutshell, here’s what the online world recommends:
- Put together a workout plan (Easy: paper, pen, ideas. Done.)
- Find your motivation (Ummm…what does it look like again?)
- Set a goal (Do I have to? Can’t I just waft around, doing something I like?)
- Push yourself (Hey, stop it with the aggressive stuff!)
- Mix it up (Love to. Variety is the spice etc etc.)
How long do you think my personal personal training lasted? Can I just tell you that day one was AWESOME! And since then I’ve very much enjoyed not doing any of the things I told myself I was going to do.
On another research expedition into the online jungle, I’d only got as far as typing the first letter of my “how to” question when I realised that a selection of suggestions was being offered, based on that first letter. So then I got completely sidetracked and went through the whole alphabet—”how to a… how to b…”—to see what came up.
Some letters produced answers on a theme. For example, if you type “how to d” into a well-known internet search engine it provides a lot of suggestions related to drawing:
- how to draw
- how to draw a rose
- how to draw a dog
- how to draw a unicorn
- how to draw a dragon
- how to do tax a return (Oops! Which one of these is not like the others?)
“G” gives you advice on how to get rid of things: illness, hiccups, pimples, dandruff.
“I” is all things investment related and ice-skating (need to work off the tension of all that investing).
“K” is about knitting and keeping cats away. (Harsh, although a cat playing with your wool while you’re knitting can be tiresome.)
“N” is how to not be things and is quite touching:
- how to not be tired (Please let me know.)
- how to not be awkward (You’ll grow out of it.)
- how to not be jealous (Takes work but it’s worth it.)
- how to not procrastinate (A little bit never hurt anyone.)
- how to not cry (Oh, sweetheart, just cry!)
My two favourites, though, were “B”:
- how to boil an egg (How is it that this is the top-ranked question???)
- how to be happy (I asked this once and found helpful answers. No shame in that.)
- how to be cool (Be uncool! Be yourself! Requires much less effort.)
- how to be single (Tough one. Honestly? Just be glad to be alive.)
- how to be popular (See answer to “how to be cool”.)
- how to become a paramedic (Right, so we’ve sorted out what we’re eating, we’ve tackled our existential crises and now we’re seeking gainful employment. Sounds like a well-rounded human being to me.)
And “L”, which I think just nudges ahead of “B” because of the incongruity:
- how to lose weight (Address your underlying emotions first.)
- how to lodge a tax return (Clearly people worldwide find this hard.)
- how to lock cells in Excel (I need to read this.)
- how to lucid dream (You’re probably doing it already.)
- how to lose belly fat (I’m going for a walk in a minute. Join me!)
- how to love yourself (You’re unique! A valuable, precious person and we need you around!)
- how to lower blood pressure (See walking, above.)
- how to look pretty (You are pretty.)
- how to lose face fat (Look at it from a different angle.)
- how to lay pavers (Maybe get someone else to do it.)
About a decade ago I typed “how to change your life” into a search engine and came up with 39 million hits. Typing the same question today brings up 48 million variations on the answer. We’re all still looking for the how-tos.
The real answer, from my experience, is that life changes anyway, while you’re tying yourself in knots trying to figure it out. It changes in ways that you could never have imagined—good, bad, exhilarating and excruciating—layers of rubble and layers of gold all overlapping down the years. The person standing next to you who looks to have it all figured out is just as bewildered, flawed, disgruntled and delighted as you are. Just ask them.