The Irony Man Competition

My Dad was a Marine.

My next-younger brother is Keith. When we were kids, Mom was forever taking us to the doctor for those booster shots every kid was required to get, seemingly every other week. We were never sure exactly what they were supposed to boost. But for us, the only things they succeeded in boosting were fear (we both recall the needles with which we were injected to have had the rough dimensions of railroad spikes) and a residual aching pain in our injected arms that seemed to last right up until it was time for our next booster shots.

On one post-injection occasion, we made the mistake of telling Dad our arms hurt from the shots. His response? Right. He made us do pushups. Because? Right again. That’s what they did in the Marine Corps after the boots got their shots. Needless to say, we never made the mistake of telling Dad our arms were sore again; although, Dad never seemed to lack for reasons why we should do pushups.

Muscles Between Your Ears

I couldn’t help but think of Dad when I read this article from Inc.: “Want to Be Mentally Strong? Let Go of These 5 Bad Habits Right Now“, written by Julian Hayes II. I’ll be magnanimous enough not to cite the five offending habits here. (You’re welcome.) But I will share these snippets of the piece’s pop-psychological inanity and ersatz expertise:

  1. “It’s essential to have your brain in the right place.” [If your brain is anywhere other than in your skull, five bad habits will be the least of your worries.]
  2. “Without having your mind in the right area, you can easily lose focus.” [You also can easily lose consciousness or worse. See my response to #1.]
  3. “Mindset traps are the result of past environmental conditioning.” [Past environmental conditioning is a subset of past experience and past history. Scientists are still working on a way to experience future history.]
  4. “You can easily lose focus, leading to … overthinking.” [Since his article is the quintessence and the very product of overthinking, this is the entry by which young Mr. Hayes won this year’s Irony Man Competition.]
Try These

As an antidote to this devilish drivel — and in the hope that it keeps at least a few people from having their brains turned to oatmeal (regardless of the places or areas in which that oatmeal might be) — I offer these five prophylactic propositions:

  • Stop whining.
  • “Trust thyself.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance“)
  • Make yourself useful. (This was one of Dad’s favorites.)
  • “Know what thou canst work at; and work at it, like a Hercules! That will be thy better plan.” (Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present)
  • Stop reading stuff about all the stuff you should let go of.
Get to Work

Since it’s too late to enter this year’s Irony Man Competition, you might as well find something constructive to do. And the best thing you can do to ensure your constructiveness is stay out of your own way.

If you follow my suggestions, you’ll get more done and worry less. If none of them works, make yourself useful and do some pushups.

Image courtesy of the Pinterest board, “Marine Uniforms”.